Ballon d'Or 2019: Fulham winger makes his pick for the prestigious award
What's the story?
Fulham winger Ryan Babel has joined a host of football personalities who have begun making predictions for this year's Ballon d'Or award, stating that compatriot Virgil van Dijk could take home the coveted gong at the end of the year.
In case you didn't know...
Van Dijk has been associated with football's most prestigious award all season following a string of tenacious and consistent performances for Liverpool.
The former Southampton defender has established himself as a commanding presence in Jurgen Klopp's Champions League-winning team, helping them maintain one of the meanest defences in Europe alongside the likes of Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
The Dutchman was instrumental in Liverpool's evolution as one of the best sides in the continent and played a key role in their incredible 97-point haul in the Premier League. His exploits in the English top flight saw him winning the PFA Player of the Year award, a prize that has been deemed to be the first of many individual trophies.
The 27-year-old, however, ended his season on a low note as the Netherlands succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the UEFA Nations League finals last night.
The heart of the matter
Babel, who plays alongside the Liverpool defender in the Netherlands team, has named him as his favorite for the Ballon d'Or this year. The Fulham winger believes Van Dijk could be the first defender to lift the prize since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he 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)."
The Netherlands' next venture will come on September 6 when they will face Germany in the 2020 UEFA European Championship qualifying clash.