December 28, 2017 / 6:03 PM / 9 months ago

SHOWCASE-Soccer-Puel backs Van Dijk to become world's best defender at Liverpool

Dec 28 (Reuters) - Leicester City boss Claude Puel believes Virgil van Dijk has all the attributes to become the best defender in the world following his record transfer from Southampton to Liverpool.

Puel had Van Dijk as his captain at Southampton last season as the south coast club fought to keep the centre back at the club.

The Dutch international finally secured a move to Anfield as the world’s most expensive defender on Wednesday, with British media reporting it was a 75 million pounds ($100.88 million) deal.

Leicester visit Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday, with Van Dijk officially joining the Merseyside club when the transfer window opens on Jan. 1.

“He is one of the best defenders in the world and he has all the qualities to become the best. It is fantastic for Liverpool,” Puel told a news conference on Thursday.

“He can play in different good teams and it is a good reward for him. At the beginning of the season it is difficult for him because he wants to join another club, but now he will find his level.

“I am happy for him and happy he can’t play against us.”

Puel’s Leicester, eighth in the league table with 27 points from 20 matches, will be looking to end their four-game winless run in all competitions at Anfield this weekend.

“They are a great team with good defenders, midfield and attacking players. They are a complete team. We have to look after our play and try to play our game against them,” Puel added.

“We had good opportunities and good results recently against big teams like against Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham. We like the big occasion.”

Puel confirmed defender Danny Simpson could be sidelined for at least a month with a hamstring injury, while Robert Huth continues to recover from an ankle problem and could feature for the reserve team next month.

$1 = 0.7435 pounds Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Rex Gowar

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