Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk Deserves The Ballon d’Or

I don’t like calling a 30-man list a shortlist but alas I don’t run the Ballon d’Or award.

Yesterday we got France Football magazine’s 30-man ‘shortlist’ of the game’s top players in the last year (You can view the list on BBC Sport).

The usual names of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are once again topping the list. We’ve also got some top young stars in Frankie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Kyllian Mbappe in there.

After their success in winning the 2019 Champions League, Liverpool have seven players in the running and it’s one of those Reds stars that deserves the gong in my opinion.

I’m pulling for Virgil van Dijk to get the top individual player award.

People will always highlight the attacking superstars that score the goals. I get why Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the award scene for the last decade. They’ve been superb and super consistent. They scored countless goals and won their clubs various major trophies. They were head and shoulders above everyone else.

They still enjoyed great seasons last term, Messi grabbed a whopping 51 goals in 50 games for Barcelona and Cristiano scored twenty-eight times in his debut year at Juventus.

Yet I still think Van Dijk was a superior performer in the last eighteen months.

Since arriving at Anfield in the winter of 2017, he’s been marvellous at the back and he is the defensive foundation that has seen The Reds reach two Champions League finals (winning one) and challenge Manchester City for the Premier League crown!

In the big games, Van Dijk steps forward and meets every challenge. He has an abundance of pace, makes great challenges, wins the ball in the air and has the defensive brain to lead the backline. Liverpool’s defence is now one of the best in the world. Even Dejan Lovren looks good beside Virgil!

No defender has won the Ballon d’Or since 2006, when Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro took the title. The only other defenders to win the illustrious award in it’s sixty-three year history were Germans Franz Beckenbauer (twice) and Mattias Sammer.

While I’m all for applauding great striking feats and wonderful goalscorers, I also think we need to appreciate that there’s an art to defending and at times a defender can come along and be a game changer like any star striker!

Virgil van Dijk is an artist and his ability in that last eighteen months has been phenomenal.

In August, the Dutchman won UEFA’s men’s player of the year award and his boss Jurgen Klopp then stated:

“It’s big. It’s really rare for a defender. It’s such important information for football, such an important sign for football. Yes, we all love goals – we want to score them and see them – but more and more and more people get excited about defending.” 

“Virg is an exceptional defender, in the moment 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely.”

Via The Standard

Props to Chris Sutton who called Van Dijk the best in the world in September 2018 and was laughed at by fellow pundits Michael Owen and Robbie Savage.

Owen stated a centre-half can’t be classed as the best player in the world. I don’t really get that logic. People will state you need to score goals to win games but you also need to not concede them at the other end either.

I think Van Dijk has been the world’s standout player in the last year and probably the most consistent, especially in the games that matter the most. He’s a difference maker and unlike Messi and Ronaldo, Virgil won the Champions League in 2019.

Let me know in the comments section who you think deserves the Ballon d’Or award this year!

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