Manchester City’s talismanic defender Ruben Dias has been named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers Association.
The centre-back, who was signed in a £65m deal from Benfica last summer, instantly transformed the champions’ defence and has missed just four games as Pep Guardiola’s side reclaimed the Premier League title from Liverpool.
Dias, who was a comfortable winner ahead of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and City teammate Kevin De Bruyne, has also raised the quality of those around him, with centre-back partner John Stones enjoying a resurgent season, while Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko have also shown marked improvements.
FWA chair Carrie Brown said: “Ruben Dias turned heads soon after his arrival in Manchester, a 23- year-old belying his age with fortitude, steel, a relentless drive for perfection and an almost superhuman ability to read and anticipate phases of play.
“This, while commendable, would not alone qualify a player to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award. One of our founding members, Charles Buchan, prescribed the award to recognise and celebrate a player who ‘by precept and example’ is considered to be the footballer of the year.