Virgil Van Dijk: A Worthy Player of the Year Winner

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Forget Phil Foden, Virgil van Dijk is the POTY

In the lead up to the annual academy awards, propaganda often starts around the turn of the year to escalate viable candidates to the fore of their respective awards categories. Oscar season can produce the odd surprise winner, though many of the trophies will land at the feet of the assumed front runners. Regarding the Premier League and their end of season player awards, it would appear that the month of March is the time for various managers and pundits to start beating the drum for their chosen pick.

Class Over Form

After viewing Manchester City overcome their neighbours (Manchester United) in an expected 3-1 home victory, one post-match interview saw Pep Guardiola proclaim Phil Foden to be the divisions best player of the season, immediately after his match winning double to win the derby. There is no doubt that the 23-year-old England star is enjoying a rich vein of form and should be a starting piece for his country in the upcoming European Championships. What must be considered, however, is the fact that for much of the season, the Etihad academy graduate has been largely peripheral and commonly below the elite level he is currently portraying.

Historical Context and Subjectivity in Awards

A few years ago, Jordan Henderson was awarded the FWA Player of the Year accolade, given to his final few months of good form in the reds Premier League winning season of 2019/20. That campaign was a solid year for the former Liverpool captain, yet it was inconceivable to see his contributions as greater than much of the other Anfield starters. Opinion can be subjective and moulded to suit the agenda of those that demand to be heard, which unfortunately has too often been the case in footballing circles and the awards that are handed out globally.

POTY Candidates Beyond Liverpool

There are some tremendous players that will deserve mention and over the coming weeks and months, the following players will be pushed by their clubs, pundits, and fanbases as potential players of the year. These names are not servants of Liverpool FC, but players that represent the Anfield giants’ rivals.

  • Phil Foden – Manchester City
  • Erling Haaland – Manchester City
  • Rodri – Manchester City
  • Declan Rice – Arsenal
  • Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
  • Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa

Liverpool’s Contenders for POTY

Alisson Becker, Mohamed Salah, and Virgil van Dijk

All those players above are enjoying tremendous seasons for their respective clubs. The individual performances of those names have at times been elevated to brilliant levels, without being either sustained or continually elite. Concerning the Liverpool players that have enjoyed continual levels of elite form, there are three names that immediately come to mind.

  • Alisson Becker
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Virgil van Dijk
Photo: IMAGO

VVD’s Unmatched Influence

Of those three listed, I believe the Liverpool skipper to be head and shoulders above both his teammates and all others playing within the English top tier. The former Celtic man has reasserted himself as the world’s leading central defender and stands alone as the most influential leader in the Premier League. Certain legends of Liverpool have been able to drag their sides to unbelievable success, with Steven Gerrard and Graham Souness being the names that strike me more than any others, as those that could use their world class levels of play to elevate all those around them.

Virgil Van Dijk’s Indispensable Role in Liverpool’s Season

Liverpool’s current skipper is unmatched in world football right now and would waltz into each team on the planet. The regeneration in the summer of 2023, meant that this season was supposed to be a transitional year, where adjustments would be undertaken to ensure that v2.0 could be a long-term success. What has occurred instead, is an unbelievable charge for glory across four competitions, that has already seen the EFL cup of 2024 added to the reds eye watering trophy haul. The 32-year-old VVD has neither the desire nor time to allow for any transition, thereby choosing instead to push himself and his squad to the pinnacle of the game once more. The contributions of the 6ft 4ft Goliath is something that does not just deserve recognition, it demands it.

Photo: IMAGO

Conclusion: Virgil van Dijk is the True POTY

Often, I am quite ignorant to the player of the year awards and even more so to the Premier League team of the year. This year, however, I am irritated to see an all-time great dismissed so casually by biased pundits, whereas others are held to a different standard just because they are deemed the emerging talents of the future. Brilliance deserves to be rewarded and the season that is being undertaken by Virgil van Dijk must be celebrated by all, regardless of allegiance. Liverpool Football Club may or may not achieve ultimate success this season, though one thing is absolutely for certain, which is without the elite level season of their fabled leader, the reds would not even be in the running for what may come.

There is only one player of the year that deserves any mention and he is the chosen leader and driving force of Jürgen Klopp’s all conquering reds.

Steven Smith

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