Virgil van Dijk is the frontrunner to be crowned Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year for 2018-19 after his performances helped fire Liverpool back into Premier League title contention.
The defender could become the first Dutchman to win the award since Robin van Persie at Arsenal in 2012. His displays during his first full season at Anfield have helped the Reds to a two-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, albeit having played one game more. He is favourite for the awards, with Caesars pricing him at 5-2.
Citizens duo Sergio Aguero (7-1) and Raheem Sterling (8-1) follow Van Dijk at considerably larger prices and are each vying to bring the club their first PFA Player of the Year winner.
Star striker Aguero leads the division on 18 goals this season, but wing team-mate Sterling has contributed 15 of his own along with nine Premier League assists and has arguably been City's best player this term.
Mohamed Salah won the award last year after scoring 32 goals in what was his first full Premier League campaign with Liverpool. He and Reds team-mate Sadio Mane make up the remainder of the top five in the market, each priced at 20-1 with Caesars.
PFA Player of the Year Odds
Virgil van Dijk: 5-2
Sergio Aguero: 7-1
Raheem Sterling: 8-1
Sadio Mane: 20-1
Mohamed Salah: 20-1
David Silva: 30-1
Bernardo Silva: 40-1
Paul Pogba: 40-1
Harry Kane: 40-1
Heung-min Son: 50-1
Eden Hazard: 50-1
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 75-1
Roberto Firmino: 100-1
Odds provided by Caesars Entertainment
Salah's attacking exploits last season were enough to see him crowned PFA Player of the Year despite Liverpool's failure to win a trophy, and Van Dijk's efforts this term could see the feat repeated at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp was given a taste of the Netherlands international following his arrival in January 2018. However, Van Dijk's integration has evolved this term and seen him become a crucial figure in the team.
His addition has seen the Reds adopt a tighter system not focused as much around the attack, and the Mirror's David Maddock recently highlighted him as the steel behind their title challenge:
David Maddock @MaddockMirror
City were an all time great team in the PL last season. Liverpool were not. City are back at that level this season...and Liverpool are now at that level too. Why? A clue: "He's Virgil van Dijk" That's why he has to be the Footballer of the Year.... https://t.co/Y8OghCDjNM
Liverpool have lost only once in the Premier League this season—three fewer than City—and have also conceded a division low of 18 goals in 31 games.
They have been transformed structurally, with the former Southampton and Celtic star earning plaudits as one of the best defenders in the world.
No club has won back-to-back Player of the Year awards since Manchester United pair Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney clinched it in 2009 and 2010, respectively—Cristiano Ronaldo won the two previous editions, also with the Red Devils.
Aguero has competed for the Player of the Year gong in numerous past campaigns, and a Golden Boot award would help his cause in finally ending his wait for the award.
Sterling has been just as, if not more, productive in front of goal considering he's stationed out wide. The former Liverpool star has excelled under Pep Guardiola and has 19 goals in all competitions. He's on course to break his career-best total for the second season in succession (Sterling scored 23 times in 2017-18).
However, the England international was 23 at the start of the season and is eligible for Young Player of the Year, which could stand in his way of winning the main award.
Liverpool duo Salah and Mane are two of four players on 17 Premier League goals this season, one behind leader Aguero—Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal are the others.
That pair are far off the pace after failing to display the same kind of consistency as Aguero and Sterling this term. Mane has picked up form recently but had only eight direct goal involvements in his first 18 league games this season, while Salah has scored once in his last nine appearances for the club.
Earlier in the season, Goal's Nizaar Kinsella picked out City midfielder Fernandinho as a potentially high-value selection, the Brazilian having again been pivotal in his deep-lying role for Guardiola's side:
Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante was named 2016-17 PFA Player of the Year, but the award hasn't been won by a defender since John Terry in 2005. The former Blues stalwart helped the club win the Premier League that season.
Van Dijk is the clear favourite to end the drought of defenders failing to win PFA Player of the Year, although City's stalking stars will look to snatch that and more silverware from Liverpool's grasp.
Aguero has come up with important goals for City in the past and could be a huge factor in Guardiola's side turning the title race back in favour of the defending champions.
Prediction: Sergio Aguero to be named 2018-19 PFA Player of the Year. Van Dijk runner-up.