Virgil Van Dijk – PFA Player of the Year 2018/19
For the second year running a Liverpool FC player has been named as PFA player of the year, and this time it is Van Dijk, who replaces Salah with the accolade. The award, which is voted on by the members of the PFA is seen as the ultimate individual recognition, and is a reward for his magnificent season to date with the Reds.
Van Dijk joined the Reds in January 2018 after a prolonged transfer chase. And, since joining, Van Dijk has certainly been worth the wait, and has quite simply made Liverpool a better team. With Van Dijk in the side, we win more games, we concede less goals, we look more composed, and figures wise, we have 25% more clean sheets when he plays. Naturally, other players impact on that, and in particular Allison deserves massive credit for this too.
But what else does Virgil bring to the side? Composure is the first attribute. As his now famous song says, he is as calm as you like. And that calmness has spread. Joe Gomez has grown as a player alongside him, and more recently Joel Matip has formed a solid pairing with him. Van Dijk also has set the standards high. He is regularly seen barking instructions at his defence. And that’s what it feels like, his Defence! He is the leader at the back, and for a lot of Liverpool fans he is our most natural leader on the pitch.
His presence is also worth calling out. The man is a colossus. Not since Shankly famously unveiled Ron Yeates as a colossus have Liverpool had such an imposing player. At 6ft 4ins, and with a frame to match, he is a giant of a player and coupled with incredible athletism, speed and agility, he stands out. People have already waxed lyrical about the fact that he hasn’t been dribbled past once yet this season, but his range of passing and the fact he is adding goals to the side too is making him stand out even more.
So, why have his fellow professionals named Van Dijk as their top player? Troy Deaney of Watford has been vocal in his thoughts when he said ‘He’s too big, he’s too strong, he’s too quick, and he’s got good hair’. He also went on to say that Virgil ‘smelt lovely’ too! The pundits have been saluting his achievements too, with Carragher saying recently ‘When he first signed, there were maybe raised eyebrows at the amount,’ Carragher added. ‘But if somebody offered you double now you probably wouldn’t take it, that’s how good he has been.’ And, of course the fans, well they have naturally taken him to their hearts and his now famous song is regularly belted out across the Kop and grounds all around the UK and Europe.
2018/19 has been a landmark season for Van Dijk and he will hope that he can add a team trophy to sit alongside this award in the coming weeks. Whatever happens, at 27, Van Dijk is just entering into his prime and Liverpool fans love the thought that he has the potential to make himself into an Anfield great. In the words of Andy Gray, ‘Take a bow son’.