Liverpool could soon face another 'Philippe Coutinho situation' with Virgil van Dijk in the next few seasons, according to club legend Graeme Souness, who was surprised that Real Madrid and Barcelona were not monitoring the Dutchman when he was at Southampton.
The Reds had to pay a premium to bring Van Dijk to Anfield after angering the Saints with their perceived illegal approach in the summer, but the former Groningen star made the best possible start to his career on Merseyside by scoring the winner in the Merseyside derby against Everton earlier this month.
Many baulked at the £75m fee Liverpool shelled out in order to bring Jurgen Klopp's number one target to Anfield, but Souness was "surprised" that Barcelona and Real did not rival his former side for his signature and believes his composed nature is evidence of the abundance of quality he possesses.
"I really rate him [Van Dijk] highly," said Souness on Sky Sports, relayed by the Daily Mail. "I'm surprised Liverpool ended up with him, I thought the big two in Spain might have come sniffing – (or) definitely Man City, I think they could do with him, or someone like him. There's not too many Virgil van Dijk's out there.
"I was like most people, in Scotland it looked all too easy for him. I'm thinking: 'He'll find it difficult (in the Premier League)'. He didn't. It's the same Virgil van Dijk.
"[He is] Someone who plays, always to appear to have another gear available to him. He's never extended in anything he does and that's a great sign of a football player."
Liverpool broke the world transfer record for a defender when they purchased Van Dijk, who missed his new side's 4-3 victory over Manchester City on Sunday (14 January) through injury. Many thought the £75m fee was far too exorbitant even for a player of Van Dijk's quality, but Souness thinks the Netherlands international has what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the game and could soon find himself in a tug-of-war between Liverpool and one of football's elite clubs, much like Coutinho when he was flirting with Barcelona.
"He makes it look so easy. I think he's not going to solve all of Liverpool's ills defensively but he'll go a long way to solving many of those problems.
"I regard him as potentially being a superstar. I tell you how far I'll go. In a couple of years he will be, possibly, in a Coutinho situation again. He can only get better, barring a bad injury."