One thing Graeme Souness undoubtedly knows is what a top player looks like. He may have been the manager that was part of Liverpool's decline from an all-conquering football behemoth, but he was peerless as a midfielder and captain in iconic Liverpool colours. Just watching him talk about players over the years reveals that he's not one to be easily impressed in his capacity as a pundit.
However, Souness sees something special in Virgil van Dijk as a defender. Like Jamie Carragher, Souness has gone on record saying that Liverpool's primary weakness lies in defence. Both have wanted more, and this is reasonable with James Milner and Dejan Lovren as Jürgen Klopp's first-choice left-sided defensive options last season.
Milner—a midfielder converted to left back—appears set for a return to midfield, while Lovren—a player who essentially should be an upgraded and highly-paid Ragnar Klavan—has never fully convinced at the two big clubs he's played at. There is clearly a need for more despite Klopp's confidence in his existing options.
Just having the Premier League's aerial defensive titan would bring an immediate benefit to Liverpool, but Souness stressed the potential and effortlessness that makes Van Dijk such an enticing transfer target.
"Whoever Van Dijk goes to, and hopefully it is Liverpool, will make them stronger," Souness said. "He makes the job look easy. When I see him, I see him in a race as though he's got another gear.
"When I see him jumping to head the ball, I don't see him at full extent. When it comes to a bit of a tangle he's really, really strong. I think he's a real player and I think at his age he's only going to get better.
"Whoever gets him, and hopefully it is Liverpool, they will be a far better team for it."
Now that Van Dijk has handed in a transfer request, it will be most curious to see which team will benefit from the 26-year-old's considerable abilities. He has the looks, the talismanic ability, the statuesque and athletic physique, the technique, the composure, and the leadership qualities to be a real star.
Unfortunately for Van Dijk, Southampton have neither the financial might nor the stature to keep a player of his talents. Liverpool will need to proceed with the necessary caution but could look forward to a tantalising partnership between Joël Matip and Virgil van Dijk.