Virgil van Dijk has been named the PFA Player of the Year at a London ceremony after a standout season at the heart of Liverpool’s title challenge, beating Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling to the award.
Van Dijk, 27, signed for Liverpool midway through last season from Southampton in a £75m move – a world-record transfer fee for a defender – and immediately improved Jurgen Klopp’s defence, helping them to the Champions League final in his first season at Anfield.
The Dutch international continued that form this season as an immovable force in a defence which has collected 20 clean sheets and conceded the least goals – 20 – of any Premier League side, while he has also contributed three goals at the other end.
It is the first time Van Dijk has won the award, and he is the first defender to win since the Chelsea captain John Terry in 2004-05. He topped a shortlist including his Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah – last year’s winner – as well as Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Sterling.
Sterling won the Young Player of the Year award, thanking his fellow professionals via a big screen after playing in City’s win over Burnley earlier on Sunday, which took them back one point above Liverpool with only two games left to play.
England Women captain Steph Houghton won the Merit award, while Manchester City’s 20-year-old forward Georgia Stanway collected the women’s young gong and Arsenal’s prolific striker Vivianne Miedema took the main prize, on the same day Arsenal clinched the WSL title.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Van Dijk. “I’m very proud. Defending is as important as attacking. We have Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Robbo [Andrew Robertson] here too, and they have been amazing throughout the season, everyone can take credit. We’ll see how it ends.”
PFA award winners in numbers
Virgil Van Dijk
- The Dutchman has featured in every Premier League match and played all but 35 minutes of the Reds’ season to date.
- He has scored five goals in all competitions – three in the Premier League, including a brace against Watford, and two in the Champions League. He also has two Premier League assists to his name.
- Liverpool have kept the most clean sheets (19) and conceded the fewest goals (20) in this season’s top flight.
- Van Dijk has had only one booking in the Premier League all season – at Leicester in September.
- Sterling has scored 17 Premier League goals, four behind the Golden Boot pace-setter Mohamed Salah.
- He also has 10 assists, the same as City teammate Leroy Sane.
- His five Champions League goals include a brace in the quarter-final thriller against Tottenham.
- Sterling’s hat-trick helped England to a 5-0 win against the Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier and he followed up with another goal against Montenegro.
- Miedema has scored 22 goals in 19 Women’s Super League games for Arsenal, who were crowned champions on Sunday.
- Miedema has scored 39 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions this season.
- Stanway has scored 11 goals in the Women’s Super League this season.
- She won a bronze medal with England’s Under-17s in the 2016 European Championship and a further bronze at the Under-20 World Cup last year.
- Houghton made her England debut against Russia in March 2007, a month before her 19th birthday.
- She has won 104 caps for her country and scored 12 goals.