Ballon d'Or 2019: Former Liverpool star believes Virgil van Dijk can become the first defender to win the award since Fabio Cannavaro
What's the story?
Former Liverpool star Ryan Babel believes that Virgil van Dijk can become the first defender to win the Ballon d'Or after Italy's Fabio Cannavaro. Cannavaro remains the only defender to win the award for his brilliant campaign in 2006.
In case you didn't know...
Van Dijk has enjoyed a memorable 2018/19 for both club and country. Owing to his brilliance, the centre-back has emerged as one of the favourites to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or.
The 27-year-old has been a rock at the back for Liverpool, helping them win the UEFA Champions League. The Reds also managed to push winners Manchester City all the way in the Premier League but ended their campaign in second spot.
Thanks to van Dijk, Liverpool had the best defensive record in the recently concluded Premier League campaign as they only conceded 22 goals. Van Dijk won the PFA Player of the Year award award for his sensational campaign.
Moreover, he led Netherlands to the finals of UEFA Nations League, but that ended on a bitter note as they lost to eventual winners Portugal last night.
The heart of the matter
Ryan Babel hopes that van Dijk's stellar campaign will make him a serious contender to win the Ballon d'Or. He also believes that the Dutch star can become the first defender to win the award after Italy legend Cannavaro.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the former Liverpool star said:
"The last time I remember a defender winning the Ballon d'Or, it was Cannavaro in 2006. So it's not impossible,"
"I think it is fair that he would at least be on the shortlist. We will see in the end if he wins it or not. I would be very happy for him (if he does)."
With tournaments like the Copa America and half of the year still left, it remains to be seen who wins the award at the end of the year.
Despite van Dijk being one of the favourites, Lionel Messi remains a serious contender to win his sixth Ballon d'Or.