The key to a successful side is not their attack, but their defence. Scoring plenty of goals means nothing if you don’t have reliable defenders.
This Premier League season, several defenders have stepped their game up and proved that they deserve to be regarded as one of the division’s elite in the position, even if their club are not necessarily challenging for the league title.
Here are six defender candidates for the PFA Team of the Year.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Starting off with an obvious one, Virgil van Dijk has been a monster in the heart of Liverpool‘s defence.
The Dutchman’s impressive form has led many to consider him as one of the world’s finest centre-backs, and understandably so. Van Dijk has given Jurgen Klopp’s side an immense level of confidence, and there is real hope amongst fans that he could be what is needed to bring an end to their long wait for a league title.
He has started every game for the Reds this season, as Liverpool have firmly established themselves as one of England’s top sides.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
The primary job of a defender is to tackle, and there are few better at tackling than Crystal Palace wonderkid Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The 21-year-old shows composure far beyond his years, and it is no surprise that he has been linked with a blockbuster move to many European giants next summer.
Per WhoScored.com, Wan-Bissaka has made more tackles than anybody in Europe’s top five leagues, and Palace’s poor league form has certainly not been down to a lack of effort from the Englishman.
His crossing has also given the Eagles another threat going forward, and the 2018/19 season truly has been a breakout Campaign for Wan-Bissaka.
Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Back with Jurgen Klopp’s title contenders, Andy Robertson has been a dominant force at left-back all season.
The 24-year-old has been one of the side’s standout performers this season, putting in a remarkable level of effort at both ends of the field. His crossing ability is up there with the best in the division, and his eight assists prove how vital Robertson has been to the team’s success.
Defensively, Robertson is solid and is improving with each passing week. At 24, he looks set for a long, prosperous career at Anfield.
Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
With Manchester City‘s embarrassment of attacking riches, it would be easy to overlook a defender when justifying their success. However, the form of Aymeric Laporte makes that simply impossible.
The Frenchman is the ideal Pep Guardiola defender, boasting impressive playmaking skills to go alongside his elite defending. He arrived at City as one of Europe’s most promising defenders, and he certainly has lived up to that reputation.
Should City secure the league title, Laporte’s status in this team will likely be indisputable.
Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Brighton and Hove Albion find themselves struggling towards the bottom of the league table, but centre-back Shane Duffy has been the true shining light in an otherwise disappointing campaign.
The 27-year-old has developed into one of the Premier League‘s top out-and-out defenders, using his physicality and vision to break up countless attacks.
Brighton’s poor form has meant Duffy has been one of the busier defenders on this list, but he has regularly risen to the challenge.
Lucas Digne (Everton)
Replacing Leighton Baines on the left of Everton’s defence was never going to be easy, but Digne has been one of the Toffees’ star performers this season, racking up three goals and three assists on his way to establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s top left-backs.
His free-kick ability has also been on show this year, giving Everton fans plenty to shout about. It certainly has been a memorable campaign for Digne.