Virgil van Dijk will be determined to end his first full season at Liverpool with a Premier League winners medal draped around his neck. Success in the Champions League wouldn’t go amiss either.
The £75million acquisition from Southampton in the January 2018 transfer window may have raised a few eyebrows at the time, given the huge fee, but just over a year later it’s proved to be an absolute bargain.
As the Premier League takes one final pause before it ventures into the “business end of the season” it’s a fitting time to take a look back on the statistics behind Van Dijk’s imperious defensive dominance so far this term.
Van Dijk has yet to miss a single Premier League game at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. Jurgen Klopp's men have conceded the fewest goals (18), keeping an impressive 17 clean sheets to date, a league high. Only three times have they conceded two or more goals in one top-flight game.
Not only has the 27-year-old accumulated more clearances (163), blocks (16), and interceptions (36) than any other player in England’s top-flight this season, but he’s also won more duels (198) and aerials (146), as reported by Sky Sports.
Van Dijk, who has made 2213 passes, has yet to be beaten by an opposition player on the deck, despite playing 2755 minutes of action. He’s simply impossible to get past.
His positioning and reading of the game have been immense, while his combination of power and pace have frustrated many a defender, with Watford’s Troy Deeney recently admitting:
“I’ve said it many times, I hate him,” Deeney told BBC Radio 5.
“I hate going up against him.
“He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair.”
The defensive kingpin, who 59% of Sky Sports readers voted as their Player of the Year, is currently the odds-on 1/2 favourite to win the coveted Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year gong - ahead of Raheem Sterling, and Sergio Aguero - which is widely considered to be the pinnacle of individual honours over on these shores.
Van Dijk’s teammate Mo Salah received the award last season, while other Reds winners in the Premier League era include Luis Suarez (2014) and Steven Gerrard (2006). However, only two defenders have topped the pile, Chelsea’s John Terry (2005) and Aston Villa’s Paul McGrath (2003), although that could soon change...
- Virgil Van Dijk: 59%
- Sergio Aguero: 15%
- Raheem Sterling: 13%
- Paul Pogba: 4%
- Heung-Min Son: 3%