'Sure to play a key role': Paul Merson backs £220k-a-week Liverpool player to dazzle this season
Paul Merson has backed Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to be “right up there” in the running for next season’s PFA Player of the Year award.
The Reds centre-back won the prestigious accolade in 2019, as he helped Jurgen Klopp’s side keep 21 league clean sheets that season.
Liverpool lost just one league game in that campaign and finished second with a staggering 97 points, one behind Manchester City.
The Reds also went on to win the Champions League, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the final in Madrid.
Van Dijk has been a crucial player for Liverpool since joining from Southampton back in January 2018.
“It was fantastic”
Merson, writing on Sportskeeda, has backed the £220,000-a-week superstar to be in the running for the PFA POTY accolade once again.
“Defenders don’t usually win this award as we’ve seen over the years,” he wrote.
“Which is why it was fantastic to see Virgil van Dijk getting his hands on the prize in the 2018-19 season.
“The Liverpool defender is sure to play a key role once again and could be right up there, as is the case with Salah.”
Mohamed Salah won the award last season as well as in 2017-18, while Kevin De Bruyne triumphed in 2020 and 2021.
Though Merson tipped Van Dijk and Salah – and Erling Haaland – to be in the running, he felt De Bruyne would won again in 2023.
“I went for Manchester City to win the Premier League and if that were to be the case, I couldn’t look any further than Kevin de Bruyne for the PFA Player of the Year award.
“He’s the best player in the league in my opinion and has won it twice already, while he produced a handful of sensational performances in the second half of the 2021-22 season to make himself a candidate for the prize before eventually losing out to Salah.”