Former Manchester United player-turned-pundit Gary Neville has given his final say on this season’s PFA Player of the Year in the Premier League after much debate since the turn of the year.
Gary Neville has touted Liverpool’s powerhouse centre-back Virgil van Dijk as the undisputed recipient of the award, with no player even coming close to the Dutchman according to him.
Van Dijk has turned heads this season with his incredible performances week-in week-out for Liverpool, and has no doubt been one of the most phenomenal players of this Premier League campaign. The Dutchman is leading Liverpool’s first title-charge in five years, and aiming to secure their first Premier League trophy since 1990.
The big difference between the Liverpool of last season and this season has surely been the addition of the towering defender. The Reds boasted a similar attacking pedigree up-front last season with their deadly combination of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino firing on all cylinders, but their shaky defense was a constant weak-link, brutally exploited by Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Virgil van Dijk was signed in January of 2018 for a record £75 million, the highest ever for a defender. Roma goalkeeper Alisson was also acquired in the following summer transfer window to give the Reds much-needed surety in goal. However, after this season, that mammoth sum paid for Van Dijk looks like a mere bargain.
It is evident what the 27-year old has brought to Jurgen Klopp’s side. Van Dijk is a born-leader and almost faultless defensively. He is an immaculate passer of the ball, also possessing an eye for goal, whilst his maturity at the back and reading of the game is second to none.
The Dutchman captained his side in Friday night’s 3-1 comeback victory at his former club Southampton, as Liverpool yet again carved out a massive victory late in the match to put more pressure on Pep Guardiola and Manchester City.
The Reds now sit one point above Guardiola’s team, but City do have a game-in-hand. The Premier League champions have had to shift their focus on Wembley for their FA Cup semi-final against Brighton.
The Manchester City duo of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero have also been in sensational form throughout the season, and many pundits and fans are claiming that one of the two could win the coveted Player of the Year award if City were to retain the title.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is also having his best Premier League season in a Chelsea shirt in terms of statistics, with the Belgian scoring 14 goals and leading the assists chart with 12.
But Gary Neville has stated that nobody comes even remotely close to the Liverpool centre-back. “100% Player of the Year for me, nobody else gets close to him”, said Gary Neville. “I’ve not seen a central defender as good as him for a long time. His passing is a joke. He passes the ball like a midfielder”, he added.
The last defender to win the award was John Terry for Chelsea in 2005 whilst Luis Suarez was the last player to have won it for Liverpool back in 2014. Remarkably, a Manchester City player has never won the accolade. The voting for the same was conducted in February and is set to be announced in the coming month.