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Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Van Dijk: Which Liverpool star most deserves to be Footballer of the Year?

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Jordan Henderson's case for PFA Player of the Year (1:01)

Craig Burley says Liverpool wouldn't be the same team without their captain. (1:01)

There are two certainties between now and the end of the Premier League season: The first is that Liverpool will end a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England and the second is that, when league-wide player of the year awards are handed out, the winner will come from Jurgen Klopp's all-conquering team.

That is not to downplay Kevin De Bruyne's contribution at Manchester City, because the Belgium international has been outstanding for Pep Guardiola's side. However, even if last season's domestic treble winners end this campaign with another three trophies -- the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Champions League -- the best and most influential players have unquestionably plied their trade at Anfield.

It is has become a question of which Liverpool player is crowned, rather than if one of them wins, but how do you separate the contenders?

Alisson has been outstanding in goal, Virgil van Dijk has once again been a colossus at centre-half, and both full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, have been, by some distance, the best in their position in England and, arguably, the Champions League.

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Fabinho has become a crucial cog in Klopp's midfield; up front, Roberto Firmino has developed into one of the best centre-forwards in the game, while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have scored 25 league goals between them to shoot Liverpool 22 points clear at the top of the table.

In recent weeks, captain Jordan Henderson has emerged as a leading candidate because of his increasing importance and is favourite with the bookmakers to win PFA Player of the Year, voted for by his professional peers, ahead of Mane and Van Dijk.

He is not prolific in terms of scoring or assists, but lifting the European Cup last season seems to have injected Henderson with new-found confidence and belief, after it initially appeared he would have something of an impossible job to live up to the iconic status of his predecessor Steven Gerrard.

Nobody questions the 29-year-old's credentials anymore and that is testament to the former Sunderland player's impact, particularly over the past 18 months.

Despite Henderson's impressive season, though, he is not the obvious choice for individual honours. If you take him out of the Liverpool team, his qualities will be missed, but with Fabinho, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain available to Klopp, his absence is not one that could be described as critical for the Liverpool manager.

It is a different story, though, for Van Dijk, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.

No defender has won the FWA Footballer of the Year award -- voted for by hundreds of journalists who cover England's top flight throughout the season -- since Liverpool's Steve Nicol in 1989, but Klopp's defenders have been so important that it is surely time for the baton to be passed.

Van Dijk, who was voted 2018-19 PFA Player of the Year, has been a transformative figure for Liverpool since arriving from Southampton two years ago. He lost out to Man City's Raheem Sterling for the FWA award last season, but Van Dijk has since ensured Liverpool's previous defensive frailties have become a thing of the past.

The Dutch international's "normal" level of performance is so far above any other centre-half in the Premier League that his contribution can be overlooked or taken for granted, but his importance would soon be realised were he to suffer a significant injury.

The same applies to Robertson, who has been a revelation at left-back since arriving from relegated Hull City in 2017. In addition to his defensive attributes, he has six league assists this season and has created nine "big chances," a metric defined by Opta as "a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score."

Alexander-Arnold, though, has set himself apart in an impressive field. He is the best right-back in the world and has been absolutely crucial in Liverpool's incredible season.

Defensively, the 21-year-old is improving all the time -- his 151 recoveries leads the league among players in his position -- and his physique ensures he has the strength and pace to hold his own against anyone, but the Liverpudlian has made his greatest impact going forward and nobody has found a solution to the threat that he poses.

Already this season, he has notched 10 assists and created 13 big chances. He has also scored twice. Alexander-Arnold's long passing into the front three allows Liverpool to rapidly turn defence into attack, while his crossing from more advanced positions is another lethal weapon in Klopp's armoury.

If you had to create a prototype of the complete footballer for the modern game, you would probably end up with Alexander-Arnold, but defenders tend to be overlooked when awards are handed out.

Henderson may yet end up with the prize, then, largely because of the momentum that has started to build through the media and from former players. Liverpool have more impressive candidates, though, and Alexander-Arnold is most deserving.