The 2019-20 Premier League season is only two-thirds done, but as competition, the race for the title is over.
Liverpool have carried on where they left off last season, and as Manchester City have reverted to mere mortal form, the Reds have built up a huge lead that, barring an unimaginable collapse, is the prelude to their first top flight championship in 30 years.
There’s still plenty of competition for the minor places and City’s European ban has potentially extended the Champions League qualification window even further, but Liverpool fans can already turn their thoughts to prizes and awards, including the title of the season’s best player.
Last year, Liverpool’s Player of the Season, Virgil van Dijk, was also the PFA Player of the Season, and this time round, those looking to place a bet at a bookie like Ladbrokes on the identity of the 2019/20 Player of the Season, will most likely be focusing mainly on Reds players. But which members of Liverpool’s impressive squad will the fans rate highest?
Van Dijk is likely to be in the reckoning again this season. Once again the team managed to be consistent with a small squad like last year, but if there is one man who is indispensable to their effort, it is the tall Netherlands centre half. The £75 million defender was the final piece of the puzzle that turned Jurgen Klopp’s contenders into European champions and soon-to-be Premier League champions.
It was no surprise he scooped the major player awards last season, and this time round, his defensive displays have been equally as impressive. Others have stolen some of the limelight in the current campaign, but Van Dijk remains the rock on which the team is built.
Rivalling Van Dijk for importance is one of the squad’s youngest stars, a player that has been tipped in some quarters to go on to lift the Balon d’Or one day. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rise from academy hopeful to one of the most sought-after full-backs in Europe has been a remarkable and inspiring one, but his youth and promise are allied to a high level of performance.
Klopp’s side depend enormously on the movement and distribution of young full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, but Alexander-Arnold is the more impressive of the two, delivering more assists so far this season than anyone in the Premier League other than Kevin de Bruyne.
The most famous aspect of the Liverpool team is, of course, that forward line of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. Firmino has received his share of attention and praise, while Salah announced his arrival in the Premier League by scooping the 2017-18 PFA Player of the Year Award, but of the deadly trio, it is Mane who has earned the most attention this season.
He has continued to bang in the goals but has added to that goal-scoring touch an extra level of creativity, providing numerous assists, and helping to make the already-formidable Liverpool front line even more deadly. And Mane’s consistent performance level means that his team-mates can always rely on him, a quality that would make him a worthy winner of the Player of the Season award.
And there is another player in the Liverpool squad, often overlooked, but deserving of recognition. Jordan Henderson has often been underrated, including by Liverpool fans, but the man who took over the captaincy from the legendary Steven Gerrard, has quietly and unobtrusively gone about his work, becoming one of the cornerstones of the Klopp era.
Henderson will never be a flashy player, but his combination of determination, leadership and dependency, allied to an increased level of creativity this season, helps to explain why the man who is likely to be the first Liverpool captain to lift the Premier League trophy is a firm fan favourite at Anfield.
But in such an incredible season, there are other contenders. In fact, it is hard to find a member of the Liverpool squad that hasn’t had a good campaign. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who arrived with Van Dijk, has been almost as important to the defensive side of things as the Dutch defender, providing assurance and breath-taking agility between the posts.
Robertson is another up and coming star, who has been tireless on the left flank despite a heavy workload, while Salah, if not quite up to the levels of the last two seasons, has also continued to be a threat.
The fact is that when it comes to choosing their Player of the Year, Liverpool fans will be spoilt for choice at the end of what has been a spectacular campaign.