Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola thinks Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has proved “well worth” his £75 million transfer fee.

The reigning Premier League champions host the current league leaders tonight at the Etihad Stadium in what is being billed as the most exciting game of the season so far.

Is Van Dijk worthy of Guardiola’s praise? Five things to know…

  1. Van Dijk moved to Liverpool from Southampton for £75 million last January.
  2. The Dutchman has established himself as one of the most talented defenders in the world.
  3. The Reds are top of the Premier League table, having remained undefeated in the league.
  4. They have also only conceded 16 goals in the Premier League in the 34 league games the 27-year-old has played across the last 12 months.
  5. If Liverpool beat Manchester City, they will go 10 points clear of Guardiola’s men.

Prior to their almighty Premier League clash this evening, Guardiola discussed the effect of someone of Van Dijk’s ilk and how his performances justify the almighty transfer fee shelled out by Liverpool this time last year.

“He’s an exceptional player,” Guardiola told reporters.

“When a player costs whatever it costs and it works, it is well worth it. When you pay less and it doesn’t work, it is so expensive.

“If he can play every three days with no injuries and play consistently, it is well worth it.”

“It’s almost a final for Man City” 

Guardiola also discussed how vital this fixture is to his side as they attempt to close the gap to just four points at the top of the table between themselves and the Reds.

A disappointing Christmas period saw City lose to the likes of Crystal Palace and Leicester City before a solid 3-1 away victory at Southampton got their league campaign back on track.

Having lost three of their last five Premier League matches, Guardiola has admitted that tonight’s match is almost as important as any cup final.

“We know how important it (the match) is.

“If we are not able to win, especially if we lose – 10 points, goal difference 11 – if they continue that run it will be so difficult.

“It’s almost a final for us. For them, nothing changes.”

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