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Since signing from Celtic at the beginning of the 2015-16 season,

Southampton star Virgil van Dijk has become a beacon of consistency in the Premier League.

Virgil van Dijk now one of the Premier League's best defendersHe is fast building a reputation for his cool and collected marshalling of the Saints back line. The Dutch centre-back settled an unsteady start to Southampton’s season when he signed and has since not missed a single minute of Premier League action for his club. Whilst the form of defensive partner José Fonte has had its ebbs and flows van Dijk has been a model of consistency.

His impressive form even earned him his first call up to the Dutch national team in October 2015 and he has since racked up 10 appearances for the Oranje. Standing at 193cm, the defender has a somewhat lanky look but could hardly be said lacking any strength able to match it with any striker he has been paired against. Aerially he is a supreme force, rarely losing a contest and has a turn of speed which allows him to regularly cover his fellow defenders.

What is lost on many people is Dutchman’s presence in the front third, having scored four times for the Saints. Mainly a threat from set pieces, van Dijk can threaten with long-range strikes and make the odd foray forward in open play – another string to his bow.

His ability to dribble and carry the ball is crucial to Southampton’s attempts of playing incisive and expansive football, something Puel clearly implores van Dijk to do, and it works to great effect.

With van Dijk in the team Southampton have conceded 45 goals in 44 Premier League games, a rate of a little over a goal a game. In that time he has become the club’s best defender and arguably the firs names on the team sheet.

His nonchalant playing style can appear somewhat baffling to fans but don’t let it fool you. The Dutchman’s playing style can be traced back throughout his career with Pieter Huistra and Dick Lukkien, who were the head and reserves team coaches at FC Groningen. The club where van Dijk first played professionally and a time when really had to be pushed to get the best out of.

With a six-year-contract offered and accepted in May 2016 Southampton have locked down the Dutch international until 2022 – a clear indication not only his prowess but it signifies the ambitious nature of the club.

At just 25, van Dijk has establishing himself as one of the league’s best defenders and despite his aforementioned style, he is a joy to behold.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Jackson Delmenico, Twitter: @JayLukeDee
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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