Why VVD doesn't deserve the PFA POTY
Background photo: Robert Cutts, CC-BY-SA 2.0
Virgil Van Dijk is a big guy. Literally. With an imposing 6' 4" frame carrying 203 lbs of pure muscle, you don’t want this man bearing down your back. In addition, that mass supports a football brain. The Premier League has felt his full weight in 2018/19. There’s a strong line of argument for the Dutch skipper to be named Player of the Year. The reasons aren’t far-fetched. Still, there are obvious signs which give credence to the rhetoric that Van Dijk doesn’t merit the prestigious PFA Player of the Year award.
Van Dijk matured as a defender at Anfield. He showed promise at Southampton although he was nowhere the man he is now. Liverpool overspent to get him but he’s repaid with interest. Before the towering Dutchman arrived, Jurgen Klopp’s charges were conceding a goal every League game. With him, the rate is 0.6.
It's no shock he's on the PFA shortlist; in fact, it's well-deserved. Van Dijk should sweep home this award without question. If only he wasn’t nominated in parallel with players who’ve grabbed the campaign by the scruff of the neck and worked magic.
Quick stats: VVD vs the competition
You must’ve noticed Van Dijk is the only defender nominated. Stats show he’s far and away the best centre-back in the division, at the heart of all 22 Liverpool clean sheets. Plus he’s notched three goals for the cause.
Thanks to Van Dijk, Liverpool has Premier League's best rearguard. If defence wins titles, as they say, the Reds should win their first in the Premier League era. First, the stars must align.
Raheem Sterling shines like a million stars for Manchester City. The Englishman has matured into a big game performer, carrying City in the process. Sterling's already bagged 17 goals and laid on 10. Only Eden Hazard [16,13] is more directly involved in his team's scoring.
( In The Premier League )
- Games: 31
- Goals: 17
- Assists: 10
Jesse Lingard in his entire career
- Games: 110
- Goals: 17
- Assists: 10
Sterling is 2-years younger than Lingard 😉
#MUNMCI #ManchesterDerby https://t.co/AFxlJkLGsw
Sergio Aguero’s contribution this campaign makes him another valid contender. His 19 strikes and eight assists count give the Cityzens the edge in the title race. Perhaps he splits the City vote with Sterling.
Or perhaps not. Sadio Mane chipped in with some rewarding hard work for Liverpool, rifling home 18 goals in league play and four more in Europe. But Mane hasn’t been as creative as his peers. The Senegalese claims only two assists through the season. It could be argued, Mo Salah is a more deserving representative of Liverpool's attack.
Bernardo Silva has as much claim to the award as any. The Portuguese have been nothing short of amazing in sky blue this term. He snuck in 14 goals in all competitions and set up teammates for eight more while the media sang Sterling and Aguero's praises.
One for the attackers
Van Dijk has been brilliant, period.
Former defenders like Rio Ferdinand heap praise on the 27-year-old. But his efforts will count for little if Liverpool hasn’t been so ruthless in attack. They have Mane and Mohamed Salah to thank in that regard.
Sterling, Silva and Aguero carry City. The trio adds flair, guile, panache and proficiency to Pep Guardiola’s overwhelming team. Each made a stronger contribution to their team than Van Dijk.
As has Eden Hazard. The Belgian needn't share the Stamford Bridge spotlight with a comparably talented teammate either. One doesn't exist. The Blues owe their presence in the race for a Champions League place to their No.10. The Real Madrid-bound forward scored and assisted on more goals than in any other season in his career.
Rumours say the battle is a straight one between Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling. If that's the case, the mesmerising City man deserves to win it. If it's an open competition, the nod should go to Hazard.