Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has defended Virgil van Dijk after a fake quote from Michael Ballack criticising the defender appeared on social media.

The ex-Chelsea midfielder was claimed to have put van Dijk’s meteoric rise in the Premier League down to the lower standard of attackers.

The quote, which has been widely shared on social media, says: “Virgil van Dijk is very lucky to play in an era where there is no [Didier] Drogba, [Frank] Lampard, Alan Shearer, [Thierry] Henry, [Wayne] Rooney, [Robin] Van Persie, [Carlos] Tevez, [Emmanuel] Adebayor and Diego Costa in the Premier League. No wonder they think he is the best defender in the league.”

That quotes went viral on social media and, although it now appears to have no credibility, the claims against van Dijk caused controversy on social media.

Henderson responded to an Instagram post by backing up his Liverpool teammate Van Dijk.

Henderson wrote: “They’re the lucky ones,” accompanied with a winky face, which leaves it unclear if he’s aware the quotes are fake or not.