Virgil van Dijk's leadership has made a "real difference" to Liverpool's incredible defensive transformation, according to team-mate Georginio Wijnaldum.

Jurgen Klopp's side have conceded just five times in the Premier League this term, a vast improvement on the 17 they had shipped by the same stage last season.

Netherlands skipper Van Dijk was signed for a reported £75million in January to address the issues at centre-back and has made an impressive fist of justifying the outlay, which was a world-record fee for a defender.

Liverpool's players recently appointed the cool-headed 27-year-old their third captain behind Jordan Henderson and James Milner in a sign of the esteem in which he is held at Anfield.

And Wijnaldum thinks his compatriot has proved value for money, telling his club's website: "I think Virgil has made a difference in the last line because he is a good defender, a big defender. He is an extra man who can defend set-pieces as well.

"He is a leader in the last line who not only helps himself with his quality but also the players next to him and so he really helps the team.

"But it is not only Virgil, the team helps him also – the players who play next to him or in front of him and the goalkeeper too because we all have to communicate with each other and help each other.

"It is good teamwork that makes us do things so well, but of course he has made a real difference since he came."

Van Dijk and Wijnaldum are expected to play on Friday, when Netherlands will attempt to close the gap to Group 1 leaders France in Nations League A.