‘No one comes close’ – Van Dijk hailed as player of the year
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has been the outstanding player of the 2018-19 season and is on course for a clean sweep of the player of the year prizes, according to Jamie Redknapp.
The Netherlands captain became the world’s most expensive defender when he moved to Anfield from Southampton for £75 million ($98m) in January 2018.
Van Dijk has helped turn an error-prone Liverpool defence into the best back-line in the league.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have kept 26 clean sheets in the 27-year-old’s 52 appearances for the Merseysiders, in which they have won 37.
And no Premier League side have shipped fewer than the 14 conceded by the league leaders this term.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Redknapp feels he is the leading contender for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, even ahead of last season’s winner Mohamed Salah.
“No one comes close to Virgil van Dijk,” he told The Daily Mail. “He has transformed Liverpool into a rock-solid team who are favourites to win their first league title for 29 years.
“His team-mate and reigning player of the year Mo Salah must fancy his chances of defending the crown.
“He has followed up a record-breaking first season at Anfield by topping the scoring charts with 16 goals.”
Tottenham’s title challenge has once again been led by Harry Kane, who has netted 14 times in the Premier League this season.
Out until early March with ankle ligament damage, any hope Spurs have of winning silverware this term rests with the England captain.
Redknapp added: “Kane remains Spurs’ most important player.
“His goals have been worth six points to Spurs — more than any player — and his late strikes against PSV salvaged their Champions League campaign.”
In the absence of Kane and Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min has taken on the responsibility of leading the Tottenham attack.
He has already scored in both of his games since returning from the Asian Cup where he represented South Korea, netting against Watford and Newcastle United.
Despite being impressed by Son, Redknapp does not believe he has stood out.
“His workrate cannot be questioned,” the former England international said. “Son made more sprints than any player on the pitch in both of Spurs’ games last week despite having recently flown back from the Asian Cup with South Korea.
“He has stepped up and become a key player for Mauricio Pochettino. It is to his immense credit that he is being talked about as a player of the year contender.
“While Son is making a convincing case, he doesn’t quite get into my six-man shortlist.”