“Van Dijk was the player for the big occasion in the 2018-19 seasons and to question his credibility as the winner of such an award would make you sound like a cheap fanboy and nothing else”
To ask whether Virgil van Dijk (VVD) had been the worthy winner of UEFA Player of the year is itself a funny question. Neither the Ballon d’Or nor the UEFA Awards are like ICC awards of present day, where biased minds rule and financial cults are considered more ad the decisive factor.
Such awards in football are given by not considering the legendary stature of an individual, but it is given on the basis of the performance in a particular season and if it that is the case then Virgil van Dijk had been the right choice and in my opinion, he should also win the Ballon d’Or this season.
Again, it is quite funny to ask whether VVD is at the same level as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Why should one be at the level of legends to win an award remains a moot question.
Diego Maradona could have won the best player of the year award in 1990-91 if his legendary status was considered, but FIFA decided to give the award to Lothar Matthaus, which was apt and appropriate – 1990-91 season was like a dream for him and outshone others with his performance.
Then FIFA considered George Weah as the best player in 1995. He beat legends like Paolo Maldini and Jurgen Klinsmann to win the award. Weah was not at the level of Maldini and Klinsmann as far legendary status is considered, but he was chosen on the basis of his performance in 1994-95 seasons.
Why Virgil van Dijk is the right choice?
I love watching strikers and attacking midfielders, but at the same time, I cannot deny the contributions of a defensive and central midfielder, defender and goalkeeper in the match.
These people are the unsung heroes, whose stubborn resistance and playmaking abilities (CM) at the back consistently allow a striker and attacking midfielder to push forward.
Not all can be a Pele, Garrincha, Maradona or Ronaldo O Fenomeno, who did not rely on the assurance at the back to advance forward.
The players of modern move forward when a Sergio Ramos, Casemiro, Carlos Puyol, Busquets, Fabinho or a Virgil van Dijk assure a secured backline. Such players are the defensive yang to the attacking yin of a Real Madrid, Barcelona or Liverpool.
For those who love numbers, should know, VVD went all of last season without being dribbled past by an opposition player — making it to 50 games before Nicolas Pepe officially ended the astonishing streak.
In that eventful second-leg semi-final encounter at Anfield this year, Van Dijk, in partnership with Fabinho, stopped the unstoppable Lionel Messi, which left Barcelona stagnant. He might not be at the same level as Messi or Ronaldo, but stopping the unstoppable is not an easy task. VVD did it in a manner as if it was a cakewalk for him.
And in the final of Champions League, one of the world’s most lethal strikers was turned into nothing more than Van Dijk’s shadow as Harry Kane was totally isolated.
There’s a saying that scoring a goal is the most difficult thing to do in football, which is why it’s what wins you games, but for a Messi, Ronaldo or Kane it looks anything but that. Yet Van Dijk shut Messi and then Kane, in the most crucial junctures of big matches.
Van Dijk was the player for the big occasion in the 2018-19 seasons and to question his credibility as the winner of such an award would make you sound like a cheap fanboy and nothing else.