Virgil van Dijk claimed the Premier League Player of the Month award for December, beating off competition from Liverpool teammate Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford among others. The Dutchman played every minute of his club’s seven league victories from seven in the month, playing a significant part in four clean sheets while scoring his first league goal for Liverpool in the 2-0 win at Wolves. He is the first defender to win the award for almost six years – Jan Vertonghen was the last, way back in March 2013.
Liverpool splashed out a world record £75m for a defender to bring Van Dijk to Anfield just over a year ago, but it already looks like money well spent. The Reds have kept no fewer than 20 clean sheets in his 36 league appearances, and this season alone the Netherlands captain has been at the heart of a defence that has conceded only 10 goals in 22 league games – and only three against teams outside the top six.