Howe: Botman can become one of Premier League’s best defenders

Eddie Howe has backed summer signing Sven Botman to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s best-ever defenders following an impressive start to his Newcastle career.

The 22-year-old Dutchman is already being compared to illustrious compatriot Virgil van Dijk after settling into English football impressively in the wake of his £35m arrival from French club Lille in June.

Asked how good Botman – yet to finish on the losing side in 12 appearances for the Magpies ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton – could be, head coach Howe replied: “I would not  be here saying Sven can’t do anything because that would be wrong of me.

“He has the tools to be as good as any other centre-half talked about in Premier League history.”

With Liverpool’s Van Dijk having set new standards while the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have graced the Premier League in the recent past, Howe’s assessment may prompt raised eyebrows.

He said: “I’m not saying those names, I’m just saying I wouldn’t put a ceiling on what he can achieve. He’s got everything, in my view, I don’t see a weakness in his game.

“Of course, he’s very young, he’s only had a handful of games in the Premier League, so he hasn’t had the longevity that he needs to say that over a longer period of time, and that’s the challenge for him, to hit those consistent levels that he needs to.

“On the ball, he is outstanding. Technically he is very high level and can play short and long passes. He has all the tools.

“He has got an understanding very quickly and picked up the pace of the Premier League very quickly, the physicality.”