Dutch footballer Virgil van Dijk won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Liverpool defender, who played an instrumental role in his team's journey to becoming the greatest football team in Europe, is the first defender to win the award.
The 28-year-old defender was signed by Jurgen Klopp during the winter transfer window in January 2018. It cost Liverpool a heavy sum of $91.4 million which was then the highest for a defender.
Why was Van Dijk given the award?
The Netherland captain has been in tremendous form throughout the 2018-19 season for Liverpool. The footballer had stood like a wall in the Reds' defence and did not let any attackers dribble past him in both the Premier League and the Champions League last season. The centre-back has been the most reliable defender in front of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
The Reds were made fun of when they signed the 28-year-old defender for such a hefty sum of money. But he proved his worth as Liverpool conceded the least number of goals among the teams playing the top five leagues of the world.
Before his addition to the Reds squad, their defence was very poor but now they are the best side in the world in this aspect of the game.
Moreover, his performances in big matches also mattered a lot. Time and again he has proved that he is capable of keeping the nerves and see Liverpool through. The 28-year-old displayed flawless defending when the Reds faced Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the UEFA Champions League which Liverpool won 2-0.
Though he has not been that great with crosses, van Dijk has been accurate with the long balls throughout the season which is ideally what the job of a central defender. The Dutch star is currently the best defender around in the world.
Liverpool had won the Champions League last year and came second in the premier league table, just missing out on the title with a single point. They have been invincible all through the season and won the Champions League in a commendable manner.
This also made a strong impact on Van Dijk getting the best player award as in the last few seasons, players from Champions League-winning sides have won the award. Finally, Virgil Van Dijk getting this award is quite justified as he has brought bigger success to his club than Ronaldo or Messi.