Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed "outstanding" Virgil van Dijk for the PFA Player of the Year award, admitting that he would be upset to see his defender miss out.
Van Dijk has marshalled the Premier League's most formidable backline in 2018-19, with the Reds conceding just 20 goals in their 34 games to date in the top flight.
As well as keeping the club alongside Manchester City in the title race, that form has placed the Dutchman amongst the top candidates for the individual prize.
And when quizzed on his charge, Klopp affirmed that Van Dijk was the obvious pick for Player of the Year.
"Would I feel sad if Van Dijk doesn’t win Player of the Year? For him yes, of course," he explained to reporters.
"He’s had an outstanding season. Will he have deserved it? Of course. It was last season when Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah both played unbelievable seasons and Mo won it.
"We were happy about that and not because De Bruyne lost it, because he would have deserved it as well.
"I think it is the same again in this case. It’s clear, the same again, I would be really happy for Virgil to win it, that’s clear."
Van Dijk is one of six players in the running for the award, five of whom are active for the two Premier League challengers.
City trio Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva represent the current table-toppers, while Chelsea star Eden Hazard and fellow Red Sadio Mane round off the shortlist.
Liverpool's first priority, however, will be to regain the lead at the Premier League summit snatched away on Saturday thanks to City's 1-0 defeat of Tottenham.
A point back from the holders, Klopp's charges can go top once more on Sunday with victory over relegation battlers Cardiff in south Wales.
The Citizens will then fulfil their game in hand midweek away to bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.