Van Dijk is a physically strong, right-footed centre-back, who usually features on the left-hand side of central defence, although he can also play as a right-sided centre-back. He is gifted with pace, good technique, and an eye for goal, and is an effective set-piece taker. Regarding his ability, former Celtic teammate Kris Commons commented that van Dijk was “comfortable on the ball”, also noting that “He had good technique and a wonderful right foot. He was good on set-pieces, some of the free-kicks he scored for Celtic are absolute wonders. He could read the game well. He had an aura about him, a confidence, because I think he knew he was good.” Neil McGuinness, senior scout at Celtic when Van Dijk was signed, called him “everything you would want if you could create a profile of the ideal central defender”, praising him as a “very smooth ball-playing defender” who possesses aerial prowess, skills from dead ball situations, and “strong leadership qualities”, while commenting that since his move to England, he is “more tactically aware now […] his anticipation and timing has improved and he is a lot more of an all-rounder”. McGuinness believes Van Dijk’s “biggest problem” is that he “can switch off when the game is comfortable”. Van Dijk commonly uses only his first name on the kit. According to his uncle Steven, this is because of a feud with his father.