Virgil van Dijk has established himself as one of the finest defenders in world football since joining Liverpool in January 2018.
The powerful Netherlands international, who combines a graceful reading of the game with a dominant physical skillset, helped the Reds clinch a sixth European Cup at the conclusion of his first full season with the club.
Victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid secured a first piece of silverware at Liverpool for Van Dijk, who missed just 35 minutes of Premier League action in 2018-19 as Jürgen Klopp’s side finished second with a club-record 97 points.
He was an outstanding presence at the heart of the defence as the Reds eliminated Bayern Munich – against whom he scored in a crucial second-leg win in Germany – as well as FC Porto and FC Barcelona on the road to a second successive Champions League final.
And there was redemption in the showpiece as Van Dijk and co bounced back from their defeat by Real Madrid a year earlier to see off Spurs 2-0 and lift the trophy at Estadio Metropolitano.
Such was the No.4’s imperious form throughout the campaign, he was voted PFA Players’ Player of the Year by his peers and also collected the Premier League Player of the Season award.
The centre-back had served notice of his potential for consistency at the highest level during his opening half-season with the Reds, which began with a winner past Everton at Anfield and ended with that loss against Real in Kiev.
Van Dijk had previously built his reputation in the Premier League with Southampton following spells at Willem II, FC Groningen and Celtic.