Van Dijk focuses on team goals after winning Player of the Year award, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Van Dijk focuses on team goals after winning Player of the Year award

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk reiterated that his focus is on club objectives after winning a top personal accolade - the Players' Player of the Year handed out by England's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 27-year-old has transformed Liverpool's defence since joining from Southampton in January last year for a world record fee of £75 million (S$131.9m) for a defender.

The Dutchman, who became the first defender to win the award since John Terry in 2004/05, has helped the title-chasing Merseysiders keep 19 clean sheets in the English Premier League.

With two games left, they have conceded 20 goals - the fewest in this season's top flight.

Juergen Klopp's men are also in the Champions League semi-finals, where they play Barcelona in the first leg at the Nou Camp tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"I think it's the highest honour you can get as a player to get voted Player of the Year by the players you play against every week. It's special. I'm very proud and honoured to win," van Dijk told Sky Sports.

Van Dijk, who added that he is not thinking of battling Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or award, said his attention is firmly on Liverpool's remaining matches.

"For us, now it's time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game at Newcastle away as well," he said, referring to the trip to meet Rafael Benitez's side on Sunday morning (Singapore time).

Van Dijk topped a six-man shortlist, voted for by PFA members from the 92 EPL and Football League clubs, beating Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva plus teammate Sadio Mane and Chelsea's Eden Hazard.

The Dutch international is the second Liverpool player in a row to win the award after forward Mohamed Salah last year and joins compatriots Dennis Bergkamp, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie in claiming the honour.

Sterling, who won the Young Player award, was hours later named the Football Writers' Player of the Season.

He topped a poll as a clear winner, with 62 per cent of the 400 votes, more than 100 ahead of van Dijk. Aguero was third. - REUTERS, AFP