Virgil Van Dijk Wins PFA Player Of The Year

Dutch duo Virgil van Dijk and Vivianne Miedema have won the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year awards for 2018-19 in the men and women categories respectively.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk, 27, beat Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard in the vote by his fellow players.

Arsenal forward Miedema, 22, beat Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert and Ji So-Yun.

Manchester City forward Sterling won the men's young player prize.

City also provided winners for two other awards, with England forward Georgia Stanway claiming the women's young player prize and England captain
Houghton receiving the PFA Special Achievement award.

Van Dijk succeeds Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah, who won for 2017-18, and is the first defender to take the award since Chelsea centre-back John Terry in 2005.

Miedema, who helped Arsenal clinch their first Women's Super League title since 2012 earlier on Sunday, follows Chelsea and England striker Fran Kirby.

The rock at the heart of Liverpool's title challenge

Van Dijk has been one of the key players in Liverpool's ongoing title challenge this season, playing in every one of their Premier League fixtures.

Signed in January 2018 from Southampton for a world record fee for a defender of £75m, the Netherlands international has been a rock at the heart of the Reds' defence.

Liverpool have kept 19 clean sheets from the 36 league games in which Van Dijk has played this season, 28 of which they have won.

He has also contributed three goals and two assists during the campaign.

"It's the highest honour you can get as a player to get voted player of the year by the players you play against every week," said Van Dijk.

"It's special. I'm very proud and honoured to receive it."

Van Dijk could still end the season with a Premier League winner's medal as Liverpool currently trail Manchester City by a single point with two matches remaining.

Chelsea playmaker Hazard, who won in 2015, was also nominated alongside the City trio of Aguero, Silva and Sterling, and Van Dijk's Liverpool team-mate Mane.

Sterling goes close to senior prize but wins young player award instead

Many believed it was a two-horse race between Van Dijk and Sterling for the men's Player of the Year award.

Instead Sterling, 24, takes the young player prize, beating City team-mate Bernado Silva, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

He also succeeds City team-mate Leroy Sane in winning the award.

England international Sterling has enjoyed another extremely effective season for reigning champions Manchester City, scoring 17 goals and providing 10 assists.

He could end the season with a domestic treble of winner's medals, having already won the Carabao Cup with City, who lead the title race and face Watford in the FA Cup final on 18 May.

Sterling has also received recognition for his stance against racism in football this season, having criticised newspapers' portrayal of black players and calling for stronger punishments for supporters who racially abuse players.

Van Dijk wins BBC readers' and pundits' votes

Van Dijk was also the pick of both the BBC Sport readers and pundits.

The Dutchman received 56% of votes by BBC Sport readers, with Sterling in second place on 26%.
Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, who was not shortlisted for the PFA award, got 6% of votes in third.

Twenty-one pundits - Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Alex Scott, Paul Ince, Phil Neville, Jermaine Jenas, Rachel Brown-Finnis, Stephen Warnock, Chris Sutton, Pat Nevin, Danny Mills, Mark Lawrenson, Martin Keown, Danny Murphy, Chris Waddle, Leon Osman, Sue Smith, Joleon Lescott, Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Upson and Kevin Kilbane - chose their top six performers of 2018-19.
Van Dijk and Sterling were their two outstanding candidates, with the former earning 14 votes to the latter's seven.

Both were selected in a PFA Premier League team of the year dominated by Liverpool and Manchester City players.

Van Dijk was joined by Reds team-mates Alexander-Arnold, Mane and Andrew Robertson, while Sterling has City colleagues Aguero, Silva, Ederson, Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte for company.

The only non-Liverpool or City player in the side is Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba - a selection that has been met with some criticism.


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