Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule has hailed Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk as the best defender in the world.
Van Dijk, 28, joined the Reds from Southampton in January 2018 in a then record-breaking transfer for a defender and played a pivotal role in their Champions League triumph last season.
As well as a mainstay in the starting XI for the Premier League leaders, he is captain of the Netherlands national team and was named runner-up to Lionel Messi in last year’s Best FIFA Men’s Player award.
Sule is in no doubt that the former Groningen and Celtic star is the top defender in the game currently and the Germany international hopes to follow Van Dijk’s example.
“Virgil van Dijk went to Liverpool at 27 and took the step to become the best defender in the world. He is now at the top at just under 30,” the 24-year-old said in an interview with Bayern’s 51 magazine.
“As a central defender, you have your best phase from the mid-20s. You have the necessary experience and clarity, at the same time you are physically in top shape.
“I want to take the next big step in the next two or three years. And when people say that I belong the best in the world, I’m happy. That’s my goal.
“I will work hard on myself, then it will be up to me whether I become one of the best central defenders in the world or not.”
Sule joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in 2017 on a five-year contract and has made 96 appearances for the Bundesliga giants.
Although he was a regular starter under former coach Niko Kovac, he has been out of action since October after suffering a cruciate ligament injury.
He is confident that he is on the way back to full fitness, however, as he has had extra time to recover due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am on the home stretch with the rehab training. Even if it is a difficult time, I feel good,” he added.