Andy Robertson Backs Liverpool Team-Mate Virgil van Dijk for Player of the Year

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates scoring his second goal with team mate Andrew Robertson during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield on February 27, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Liverpool's Andy Robertson has backed team-mate Virgil van Dijk to win the PFA Player of the Year award this season and labelled the Dutchman "the best centre-back in the world." 

Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75 million in January 2018 and has had a huge impact on the Reds defence.

He has played a key role in Liverpool's title challenge this season, and Robertson believes Van Dijk deserves to pick up the end-of-season award for the Premier League's best player, per Carl Markham of the Press Association (h/t MailOnline):

"If the season ended tonight, I would give him it personally. There's still 10 games to go and somebody can step up from another team but Virgil can take it to a whole new level, I reckon. The attacking players are usually in the running because they take all the goals and the headlines, but this season Virgil has been fantastic and he's getting all the plaudits that he deserves.

"I don't think he'll be focusing on that, he'll be focusing on the team. It's always nice to get end-of-season awards, and I'm sure he'll be in the running. It will be close if he doesn't win it. He's so consistent as well. If he puts the performances as he has done, there's no reason why he shouldn't have that trophy.

"He makes my life easier, that's for sure. To have him next to me it makes everything so much easier. When somebody is running at you and you know Virgil is inside—he's rarely out of position, if ever. For me, he's the best centre-back just now in the world. That's the way he's playing and the confidence he's got—and he's still young enough that he can get even better."

Liverpool are one point clear at the top of the Premier League as they pursue their first league title since 1990:

After 28 games of last term, they were third, 18 points off first, and they eventually finished 25 points behind champions Manchester City.

The key change in 2018-19 has been Liverpool's defensive solidity.

They still boast one of the most potent attacks in Europe in Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. But now it is supported by a solid back line.

In this season's Premier League, Liverpool have conceded just 15 goals, by some distance the best defensive record in the division, and they are on track to let in around 20 by the term's end.

The last time Liverpool went through an entire league campaign conceding fewer than 35 goals was in 2008-09, when Rafael Benitez was in charge.

Van Dijk has been vital to the huge change in Liverpool's defensive solidity:

So often in previous years, Liverpool have let themselves down by dropping points against smaller sides because they were vulnerable at the back.

That has not happened in 2018-19, in part because Van Dijk has transformed Liverpool's back line into a top-class unit.

If Liverpool go on to win their first title in almost three decades, the 27-year-old will have been the key component, and he would deserve to become just the sixth defender to pick up the PFA award.

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