The Dutch 27-year-old was a target for Albion before he joined Celtic from Groningen in the summer of 2013. He moved to Southampton in 2015 and then signed for Liverpool in January last year for a reported £75m fee.
Van Dijk has impressed on Merseyside to help Liverpool lead the way in the Premier League this season and Hughton believes he is at the same level as some of the Premier League's best all-time defenders.
Asked if the likes of Duffy and Dunk can learn from van Dijk, Hughton said: “Yes. Ours certainly would.
“What Van Dijk is to Liverpool, that’s what our two are to us.
“We know what level he is but if I’m looking at this level of club and what you would regard as two outstanding centre-halves at our level, ours are as valuable to us as what he is to them.
“He’s adapted incredibly well.
“The two we have will look at the best around where they can learn from, what they can pick up from.
“Lewis has already spoken about John Terry as someone he admires, seen play and tried to get some characteristics from.
“Both of them would do. At the moment (van Dijk) is a great role model. He doesn’t miss many games, is good in both boxes and is a top, top all-round player."
Hughton was also asked if he can remember another centre-back having such an impact on a backline as van Dijk has and said: "There certainly will be. I know it’s different circumstances, but you always look back at the great centre-halves in the Premier League. Your John Terrys, your Ledley Kings, your Sol Campbells. There are numerous ones you can name.
“What Van Dijk has the advantage of is it’s not as if he’s coming into a bad side. He’s walked into a very, very good side that probably just need those couple of additions to raise their level once more.
“What you have with all the best centre-halves, and it’s exactly the same with Van Dijk, is they make things look easier.
“Is he that at level of player? Then yes of course, I’ve no doubt he is when you look at the qualities he’s got.
“The other players we’ve mentioned have done it over a long period. So if you’re asking me if he’s at their level as a player then the answer is yes.
“But if you’re talking about an influence on our game and the history they have, then of course they’ve done it for a longer time and he hasn’t."
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