Virgil van Dijk win PFA player of the year awards

PFA player of the year awards: Dutch duo Virgil van Dijk and Vivianne Miedema have won the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year awards for 2018-19.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk, 27, beat Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard in the vote by his fellow players.

Arsenal forward Miedema, 22, beat Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert and Ji So-Yun.

Manchester City forward Sterling won the men’s young player prize.

City also provided winners for two other awards, with England forward Georgia Stanway claiming the women’s young player prize and England captain Houghton receiving the PFA Special Achievement award.

Van Dijk succeeds Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah, who won for 2017-18, and is the first defender to take the award since Chelsea centre-back John Terry in 2005.

Miedema, who helped Arsenal clinch their first Women’s Super League title since 2012 earlier on Sunday, follows Chelsea and England striker Fran Kirby.

The rock at the heart of Liverpool’s title challenge

Van Dijk has been one of the key players in Liverpool’s ongoing title challenge this season, playing in every one of their Premier League fixtures.

Signed in January 2018 from Southampton for a world record fee for a defender of £75m, the Netherlands international has been a rock at the heart of the Reds’ defence.

Liverpool have kept 19 clean sheets from the 36 league games in which Van Dijk has played this season, 28 of which they have won.

He has also contributed three goals and two assists during the campaign.

“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,” said Van Dijk.

“It’s special. I’m very proud and honoured to receive it.”

Van Dijk could still end the season with a Premier League winner’s medal as Liverpool currently trail Manchester City by a single point with two matches remaining.

Chelsea playmaker Hazard, who won in 2015, was also nominated alongside the City trio of Aguero, Silva and Sterling, and Van Dijk’s Liverpool team-mate Mane.

The free-scoring forward behind Arsenal’s title win

Netherlands international Miedema is the top scorer in the WSL this season, netting 22 goals and providing 10 assists in her 19 appearances.

In all competitions this season, the prolific striker has scored 39 goals in 46 appearances.

The former Bayern Munich player hit the opener as Arsenal secured the WSL title with a 4-0 win at Brighton’s Amex Stadium, in front of a new league-record crowd.

“I’m obviously really proud to represent my team here, we’ve had an amazing year, especially with winning the league,” she said.

“I’m just really happy I could help my team all season long with scoring goals and it means a lot.”

Miedema, who was also nominated for the women’s young player award, is the first Arsenal player to win the senior prize since team-mate Kim Little claimed the inaugural award in 2013.

This summer, she will hope to propel the Dutch to success at the Women’s World Cup in France, as they look to build on their triumph at Euro 2017.

Miedema was the only Gunner nominated, seeing off City trio Houghton, Parris and Walsh and Chelsea pair Cuthbert and Ji.

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