Belfast Telegraph

Van Dijk sets sights on Player of Year double

Quality stuff: Virgil van Dijk
Quality stuff: Virgil van Dijk

By Carl Markham

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk will renew his rivalry with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo after being shortlisted alongside the two greats in The Best Fifa Football Awards.

The Holland international and Champions League winner pipped the pair to become Uefa Player of the Year last week and will be looking to do so again later this month when the final results are announced.

Premier League stars dominate the awards, with Liverpool's Alisson Becker and Manchester City's Ederson shortlisted for the goalkeeper accolade, along with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino making it a clean sweep on the shortlist for Manager of the Year.

England Women are also well represented with Phil Neville in the final three for Women's Coach of the Year having guided the Lionesses to a World Cup semi-final this summer, and newly-crowed Uefa Women's Player of the Year Lucy Bronze making the final three in the women's player category.

Alisson had the edge on his City counterpart in terms of Premier League clean sheets last season, with 21 to his Brazil team-mate's 20, earning the Liverpool man the Golden Glove.

However, Ederson finished the campaign with more winners' medals after completing the domestic treble with City, although Alisson will view victory in the Champions League as adequate compensation.

After leading his side to victory in Madrid and contributing to one of the most thrilling title races as his side lost out by one point with a record runners-up points tally, Klopp, a losing Champions League finalist the previous year, is one of the final three on the manager's shortlist.

It is no surprise that he is joined by Guardiola, who has changed the face of English football with a record-breaking Manchester City side, while Pochettino's efforts in getting Spurs to their first Champions League final are also recognised.

Neville's accomplishments were also rewarded, having revitalised the England team which had the nation gripped on their run to the last four of the World Cup.

They eventually lost out to eventual winners the United States, and one of his rivals for the award is their coach, Portsmouth-born Jill Ellis. Holland's Sarina Wiegman is the other.

Bronze was one of England's stand-out stars at the World Cup and, after winning the Uefa award, is in line for the double.

However, she is up against Megan Rapinoe, the high-profile poster girl of the tournament, and her United States team-mate Alex Morgan.

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