PFA Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk or Sergio Aguero?
Liverpool and Manchester City continue to battle it out for the Premier League title with City leading the way, albeit having played a game more.
It’s set to be one of the most enthralling title races in a number of years, but that’s not the only battle going on.
Amidst the far more important title race, there’s also a battle for individual awards with City striker Sergio Aguero and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk the two favourites to be handed the PFA Player of the Year award.
But who has enjoyed the better season? Is it Aguero with his 17 Premier League goals or van Dijk with his 14 clean sheets? We assess the race for the Player of the Year award below.
The Aguero argument
Sergio Aguero has to be considered as one of the best strikers to ever grace the Premier League.
His goal tally of 160 league goals in 229 games for Manchester City is simply unbelievable, but let’s just focus on this season.
The Argentine has enjoyed a stunning campaign, scoring 17 league goals and a further four in cup competitions.
His form over the New Year in particular has been nothing short of sensational, scoring two hat-tricks in his last three games to ensure Liverpool feel the pinch in the title race.In big games, Aguero turns up and that’s what you want from your star striker.
He also scored in City's 2-1 win over Liverpool earlier this season back in January, beating Alisson from an acute angle to give his team the lead in the game. Come the end of the season, that game and result could well prove to be one of the decisive moments of the title race.
Playing in this City team guarantees chances for those in attack and if the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and David Silva can sustain their current level of form, expect Aguero to keep adding to his tally by the week.
Currently on 222 goals in 322 appearances in all competitions for City since joining the club in 2011, he won his fifth PFA Player of the Month award in January but is yet to win PFA Player of the Year. Shockingly, last season was the first time he was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
This year, Aguero has to be seriously considered for the PFA Player of the Year.
The Van Dijk argument
The Dutch defender has been a revelation since arriving at Anfield, but particularly this season.
He’s helped the Reds climb to the next level, becoming title contenders with a solid back-line led by van Dijk himself.
The 27-year-old has appeared in every one of Liverpool’s league games this season, an impressive feat, and he’s helped the Reds top the clean sheet table with 14 to-date. In total, the Reds have conceded just 15 goals in 26 league games this season and have conceded more than twice on just one occasion in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp understands the importance of having the Dutchman line up in the starting XI, as seen by his unwillingness to rest him in the Premier League so far this season.
Liverpool will likely see the real importance of having van Dijk in the team in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie against Bayern Munich next week, with the centre-back missing for the first leg at Anfield through suspension.
Klopp has twice rested van Dijk this season in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup against Chelsea and Wolves respectively, both of which have ended in defeats for his team.
van Dijk has been pivotal to Liverpool’s efforts this season and that’s why he’s the favourite of many to win the PFA Player of the Year award come the end of this season.
It’s impossible to deny how close this race is. Both players have been irreplaceable for their respective teams with Aguero scoring so many of City’s goals and van Dijk helping to keep out so many, transforming Liverpool’s defence.
Interestingly, Sergio Aguero leads the way based on WhoScored rating, accumulating an average match rating of 7.65 in the Champions League, compared to van Dijk’s 7.35.
Having had a more direct impact, Sergio Aguero currently leads the way, but let’s not kid ourselves, these things are decided on success, on trophies and silverware.
If Liverpool win their first Premier League title with van Dijk at the centre or are looking like doing so by the time the awards roll around, the Dutchman will win the PFA Player of the Year award.
If Aguero is on his way to helping City to another title by racking up over 20 goals, maybe even 30 if he continues on his current trajectory, he’ll be claiming the PFA Player of the Year award in April.