Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has been crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year at the 2019 PFA Awards in London on Sunday evening.
Van Dijk is just the fourth defender to win the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award and the first since 2004.
The towering dutchman has been nothing short of outstanding for Liverpool this campaign.
Since arriving at Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a world record £75million fee for a defender, the 27-year-old centre-half has brought assertiveness and confidence to a club with a frustrating defensive record.
In recent seasons the Merseyside club’s vulnerability at the back has been their Achilles heel, but Van Dijk’s presence at the heart of their defence has been integral to Liverpool’s chase for a first Premier League title, as it has led to a high number of clean sheets.
A ball-playing centre-half who is the epitome of cool, calm and collected, Van Dijk has been a constant figure of assurance at the back and won the PFA Player of the Month in November.
Van Dijk’s club manager, Jürgen Klopp, has waxed lyrical about his talents since his arrival 15 months ago. “You could write a book about his skills, his strengths, how much I like him, what a fantastic person he is. He’s so young, already so mature, so strong,” said Klopp.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been in awe of his displays too, telling Sky Sports: “He looks like a man playing in a kids’ game. He’s playing against some of the top players in European football in the Premier League, but everything is so easy.”
There were a few gasps when he was bought for such a large figure, but van Dijk has silenced the doubters by justifying every penny since arriving at Anfield.
At times he has captained the side and there is no doubting his leadership abilities with his demand for acute concentration from his defence for the entire 90 minutes.
Those qualities earned the former Celtic and Groningen blocker the Netherlands captaincy last year and he was crucial in helping the Oranje to the Nations League play-offs in Portugal this summer.