From Al Bawaba:
Despite the disappointment of Sunday, it’s been a season to remember for Liverpool.
The Reds may have come up agonisingly short in the Premier League title race, missing out by a single point to a rampant Manchester City, but what a ride they have given their supporters!
Jurgen Klopp’s side finished the campaign on 97 points – a record for any runner-up in English top-flight history – and having lost just once in 38 matches. They led the table for long periods, and did so again on the final day for 20 glorious minutes.
It’s been a season of stellar performances across the board. Liverpool finished with the Premier League’s best defensive record, with two of the league’s leading goalscorers and with the players’ player of the year in their ranks.
But who deserves to scoop the Reds’ player of the year award?
Here, Goal picks the top three for 2018-19, in descending order. But what do you think? Feel free to join the debate in the comment box at the bottom of the page!
3. ANDY ROBERTSON
Andy Robertson Liverpool 03032019Andy Robertson Liverpool 03032019
Left-back has been a problem position for Liverpool for longer than most fans would care to remember, but they have well and truly solved the issue now.
Andy Robertson was a relatively low-key signing at just £8 million (€9.2m/$10.3m) from relegated Hull but has since established himself as one of the best all-round full-backs in the game.
His consistency this season has been remarkable. The Scot set up Liverpool’s first league goal of the season for Mohamed Salah and has continued to provide a steady supply from the left flank.
He finished the campaign with 11 assists in total, equalling a Premier League record for a defender set by both Andy Hinchcliffe and Leighton Baines. Unlike those two, Robertson is not a set-piece specialist.
It wasn’t all about his attacking output, though. Robertson featured in 36 of Liverpool’s 38 league games, helping them to a club-record 21 clean sheets with his tenacity, aggression and vastly-improved positional sense.
A real fans’ favourite, his spirit was never more evident than in the Reds’ epic Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona last week, when his early tussle with Lionel Messi set the tone for a crazy Anfield night.
No backwards steps from the Glaswegian, whose rise shows no sign of slowing.
2. SADIO MANE
Sadio Mane Liverpool 2018-19Sadio Mane Liverpool 2018-19
He’s the quietest man in the Liverpool squad, but Sadio Mane’s performances have been anything but. The Senegal star has enjoyed his best ever goalscoring season, with 26 goals so far from his left-sided station.
His brace on the final day of the Premier League season against Wolves earned him, alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mo Salah, a share of the Golden Boot. And unlike those two, all of Mane’s goals came from open play.
Some of them were memorable – his backheel against Watford stands out, as does his sensational turn and chip away at Bayern Munich. Mane scored against Manchester United and Arsenal and Chelsea. He stepped up in the winter with a run of 11 goals in 11 games, taking on the burden when Salah’s scoring touch briefly deserted him.
Add to that his work ethic, courage and physicality, and you have one very special footballer.
Liverpool were delighted to tie the 27-year-old to a new long-term contract in January, warding off interest from Real Madrid in the process. Mane is here to stay, and an integral part of Klopp’s challengers.
This, by some distance, has been his best season on Merseyside.
1. VIRGIL VAN DIJK
And in today’s least surprising news… The Premier League’s Player of the Year is also Liverpool’s.
The big Dutchman with the big presence has stood head and shoulders above his peers this season, helping transform Liverpool from top-four contenders to title challengers with his influential displays at centre-back.
Since walking through the door at Anfield in January 2018, Van Dijk has been a colossus.
Monstrous in the air, both defensively and when attacking set-pieces, his composure and class in possession keeps Liverpool in control at all times. Their defence conceded just 22 goals in 38 league games – and Van Dijk played in all of them.
Moreover, his mere presence seems to inspire those around him. Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip all enjoyed stints as his centre-back partner; all looked reassured by the sight of their ‘big brother’ alongside.
Earlier in the season, Van Dijk was selected as one of the club’s vice-captains after a dressing-room vote. Respect for the former Southampton man runs deep.
He admits he would have swapped his PFA award for a Premier League title – who wouldn’t? – but the recognition he’s received this season has been deserved. The first defender since John Terry in 2005 to win the player of the year award from his fellow professionals, and the first Liverpool player to do so since Luis Suarez five years ago.
Like Suarez, Van Dijk’s impact is unarguable. Unlike Suarez, the Dutchman will be around for years to come as Liverpool go all-out for glory.
The original content can be found here: Who is Liverpool's Player of the Season?