TALISMANIC centre-back Virgil van Dijk believes Cherries defender Nathan Ake “has the quality” to go right to the top and added: “He’s a fantastic guy and player.”

The Liverpool defender was speaking after his side got the better of Cherries 2-1 at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.

Ake took the armband against Jurgen Klopp’s men on Merseyside after centre-back partner Steve Cook was forced off with a hamstring injury.

And van Dijk, who captains the Netherlands national team in which Ake features, was pleased to see the Den Haag-born star improving.

Asked by the Daily Echo how good Ake could be, 2019 PFA players’ player of the year van Dijk said: “First of all, he’s a fantastic guy.

“I speak with him quite a bit at the national team and I think he’s a fantastic player as well.

“On Saturday he showed with clearances and I think he stepped up when he had the armband as well. It’s just good to see that he’s improving.

“I don’t know what might happen with him in the future with Bournemouth, you just have to stay grounded – but I am not worried about that (with Ake) at all.”

Former Celtic man van Dijk was runner-up in last year’s Ballon D’or, only finishing behind Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

Asked whether he felt Ake could go right to the top level, the Liverpool star replied: “He has the quality but he has to have more than just the quality these days. But he’s still young, he’s improving and you never know what decision might happen.

“It’s all dependent on how the season will end for Bournemouth too – but I am very positive about him. He’s a fantastic guy and player as well.”

Cherries ace Ake has represented the Netherlands 13 times at senior level. He is hopeful to be part of Ronald Koeman’s squad featuring in Group C of Euro 2020.

The former Feyenoord youngster faces stiff competition for a starting spot with van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt part of the Dutch squad.

“In the national team we are in a good situation with the centre-backs at the moment,” said van Dijk.

“He (Ake) is one of them and is also a good character to have in the team.

“He works hard and he’s a good example for younger players out there as well.”