Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk should have been given the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award over his Reds team-mate Mohamed Salah, according to Garth Crooks.
The BBC Sport pundit insists that he’s a big fan of Salah, but feels attacking players are often over-represented in awards like this, and that Van Dijk has been Liverpool’s best player this season.
Discussing Salah winning the vote over Van Dijk, Crooks said: “It’s not often I disagree with the choice of the esteemed Football Writers’ Association but I was rather taken aback by their decision to award Mohamed Salah this year’s honour of Footballer of the Year. The Liverpool striker is a superstar – of that there is no doubt – and he has had an impressive goalscoring season.
“However, Liverpool’s best player and, in my view the Reds’ player of the season, is Virgil van Dijk. He should have won the award. Regular readers will not be surprised by my choice as the Liverpool defender features in my team almost on a weekly basis.
“That’s because Van Dijk is unquestionably the best defender in the world but he does not attract the same attention as Salah because it’s the Egyptian who scores the goals. I appreciate goal scorers better than anyone – my team of the week is often full of them. However this year the Football Writers’ Association has gone for the popular vote but not the right one.
“Defenders seldom lift this prestigious award. The last time a Liverpool defender won it was Emlyn Hughes. He was not so much a great defender, but an incredible competitor. However, he wasn’t in Van Dijk’s class.
“Another Liverpool great who the football writers let slip through their fingers was Alan Hansen who was the closest player I have seen to the Netherlands captain in pace, quality and vision.
“Salah is very capable of winning the Champions League title for Liverpool but he will need Van Dijk to be in the team.”
In truth, Liverpool fans probably won’t care too much, as they’ll just be thrilled that both of these players have been in such exceptional form for their club this term.
It is particularly impressive, however, how Van Dijk has bounced back like he’s never been away after missing almost the entirety of last season.
The Netherlands international has immediately hit top form again, and it’s clear just how much more solid Jurgen Klopp’s side are when he’s fit, with the Merseyside giants now serious contenders for the quadruple, whereas they majorly under-achieved last year.