Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has revealed he voted for Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling as his Premier League Player of the Year.
Sterling has been an integral part of City’s title-chasing campaign, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently locked in a neck-and-neck race with Liverpool.
How good has Sterling been? Five key things to know…
- Sterling has picked up where he left off last season, so far scoring 19 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions.
- The England international has also provided 11 assists as City attempt to achieve an unprecedented quadruple.
- Further to that, he has registered the joint-fourth most assists in the Premier League this season – more than any other City player.
- In his last 12 league appearances he has directly contributed to 11 goals.
- Of forwards to start over 20 matches Sterling averages the best shot conversion rate per 90 minutes in the league (24.19).
The Reds currently occupy top spot in the Premier League by two points, albeit having played a game more, but City have been in devastating form of late, winning their last 14 matches since the Newcastle debacle.
Key to that resurgence has been Sterling, who has contributed to 10 goals following defeat on Tyneside in January; and that stellar form has now caught the attention of title-chasing rival Van Dijk, who says he had no qualms selecting the prodigious winger as his player of the year.
“I did what I thought and I thought he deserves it,” said Van Dijk, who cannot vote for a teammate under the current guidelines.
“He’s had a fantastic season. I could have voted for Bernardo Silva as well, and another couple of players from City.
“But I am just being honest. I think he has improved a lot as a player. We will see if he wins it.”
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A double on the cards for Liverpool
Liverpool are not only looking to secure a first league title since 1990 but also looking to go one better than last season in Europe and win the Champions League.
The Reds reached the final 11 months ago, though ultimately fell short against Real Madrid in Kiev, but with a favourable quarter-final tie against Porto and the reigning champions eliminated from the competition, they stand a good chance.
Van Dijk certainly believes his side can go all the way but he is under no illusions about just how difficult the task will be.
“I think all of the teams of the league would love to be in our position right now. We are in a great situation,” added the Dutch international.
“It could have been better but it is how it is. We still have a chance to win the title and a chance to win the Champions League.
“It can become a fear when you read all the media and social media. In this situation you need to be very strong mentally.”
Liverpool play the first leg of their quarter-final clash with Porto at Anfield on Tuesday night.