Virgil van Dijk has praised Netherlands teammate Jurrien Timber and claims the youngster is further ahead in his development than the Liverpool star was at his age.

Timber has quickly established himself at Ajax, having previously worked under Erik ten Hag in the Eredivisie.

The 20-year-old was a primary target for Manchester United, Ten Hag’s new club, over the summer but Ajax stood firm and eventually kept him at the club.

Van Dijk and Timber played together in a back three alongside Nathan Ake in the Netherlands’ 2-0 victory in Poland on Thursday night and the Liverpool defender praised his teammate ahead of their next game against Belgium on Sunday.

“I wasn’t nearly as far along as he is now [at the same age],” Van Dijk when asked about Timber. “I have nothing but praise for him. He is a great player and a true professional.

“He has so much potential. Hopefully he can develop further. Then it will be all right, I think.”

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The Low Countries derby on Sunday is the latest fixture in a storied rivalry between Belgium and the Netherlands – the pair have played 125 official games so far, with the Dutch winning 56.

The Netherlands only need to avoid defeat to top Nations League Group A4, sitting three points ahead of Belgium.


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