Football News

Liverpool legend backs Virgil van Dijk’s bid for Ballon d’Or

By Steve Jennings

Liverpool FC

Published: 17:43, 4 June 2019

Former Liverpool winger John Barnes believes Virgil van Dijk deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.

Van Dijk lifted his first piece of silverware as a Liverpool player on Saturday after keeping a clean sheet in the 2-0 Champions League final win against Tottenham.

Van Dijk’s extraordinary year: Five key things to know…

  1. Liverpool improved defensively in the second half of last season following Van Dijk’s arrival from Southampton.
  2. The Reds failed to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final last year but kicked on after the painful defeat.
  3. Van Dijk was at the heart of a Liverpool back line that conceded just 22 goals in the entire 2018/19 Premier League season, fewer than any other side.
  4. Despite missing out on the title to Manchester City, Van Dijk was named PFA Player of the Year.
  5. And after winning the Champions League last week, he could be considered for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

The usual culprits, including Lionel Messi, will be in the running for the 2019 Ballon d’Or at the end of the year.

But Barnes insists Liverpool’s towering centre-back is worthy of picking up the gong ahead of any attacking players.

“Normally when you look at the Ballon d’Or winners,” Barnes told talkSPORT, “they’re either attacking midfield players or centre-forwards. They are goalscorers and eye-catching players.

“But there haven’t been any of those types of players who have really set the world alight this season.

“So from a point of consistency and from a point of success, for me Van Dijk would have to be the man.”

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Why Messi is Van Dijk’s main competition

Messi and Van Dijk went head-to-head when Barcelona faced Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

In the first leg Messi scored twice as Barcelona eased to a 3-0 win at the Nou Camp, but Liverpool’s extraordinary comeback at Anfield – which included yet another clean sheet for Van Dijk and Co – proved decisive.

Regardless, Van Dijk will find it difficult to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi after another incredible season for the Argentinian.

Messi scored 51 goals in 50 appearances across all competitions, hitting the 50-mark for the sixth time in his career.