The Oranje are being criticised after their disappointing draw with World Cup qualifying rivals Montenegero last week, with many questioning the leadership inside the team.
But Van Gaal said of Van Dijk: "He's a great influencer.
"We have leaders in the team, but it is not easy to intervene in the game.
"I have not seen many players in my career who could do that. There was Danny Blind as captain at Ajax. There was Josep Guardiola as captain of Barcelona. And there was Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was vice captain at Bayern Munich. But he could do that too."
Holland meet Norway tonight needing victory to reach Qatar 2022.
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