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'He deserves it' - Van Dijk admits to voting for Sterling to win Player of the Year

4:29 AM IST 09/04/19
Raheem Sterling, Virgil van Dijk
The Reds defender is expected to rival one of his title rivals' star men for the gong - but that didn't influence his decision

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has revealed he voted for Raheem Sterling to win Player of the Year and says the Manchester City forward would be a worthy recipient.

Van Dijk and Sterling are among the favourites to take home the award after enjoying fine seasons at their respective clubs.

Voting between the duo is expected to be tight, mirroring the title race itself, with Liverpool currently just two points ahead of City at the top of the Premier League.

Van Dijk could have voted for another player in order to reduce Sterling’s votes and therefore boost his chances of taking home the award. However, the Dutchman insists that was never an option and says the England winger is the standout choice.

“I voted for Raheem Sterling. I did what I thought [was right] and I thought he deserves it,” he told FourFourTwo.

“He’s had a fantastic season. I could have voted for Bernardo Silva as well and another couple of players from City.

“But I am just being honest. I think he has improved a lot as a player. We will see if he wins it.”

When asked what winning the award would mean, Van Dijk admits it would be an honour. However, with the Premier League at stake, the former Southampton man says individual honours have to take a backseat during the title run-in.

“Of course, you’re going to be proud, that is something you have to be,” he said.

“But all the hard work on the training ground, that is something we all did together. It's [important] to win something as a team, [it's] a collective thing as a club. Hopefully, that is something that will happen.

“We can all keep our heads high with the number of points that we have got. Only losing one game in the Premier League so far is very special.

“Until everything is decided, we just have to keep going. Individual trophies? I don’t know.”

Liverpool will put the title race to one side this week when they take on Porto in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Anfield on Tuesday.

Van Dijk believes Liverpool are more than capable of clinching a memorable double but has urged his team-mates to maintain their focus and try to block out the hype surrounding the team at present.

“I think the most important thing is just to do what we are doing. Enjoy it,” he added.

“I think all of the teams of the league would love to be in our position right now. We are in a great situation.

“It could have been better but it is how it is. We still have a chance to win the title and a chance to win the Champions League.

“It can become a fear when you read all the media and social media. In this situation, you need to be very strong mentally.

“When the whistle goes and the games start we need to show what we have been doing throughout the season, show our quality, be confident and embrace it.”