Ballon d'Or 2019: Kaka reveals his pick for the Golden Ball
What's the story?
The 2007 Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year thinks that it's time the honor is bestowed upon a defender and according to him Liverpool's formidable center-back Virgil van Dijk is the only defender worthy of the golden trophy at the moment.
In case you didn't know...
Until last year, when Real Madrid star Luka Modric was voted as the winner at the ceremonious gala, Kaka remained the last player to have lifted the trophy, considered to be the biggest individual decoration in football.
Over the years, it has been seen that more often than not, there has been an inclination towards awarding this highly sought-after prize to attackers, with strikers, attacking midfielders and wingers taking home the trophy 15 times since the turn of the century.
In what can be described as an exception, Fabio Cannavaro won the award in 2006 and he remains the last defender with the honor to his name.
The heart of the matter...
With Van Dijk winning the UEFA Champions League with the Reds and also being voted the PFA Players' Player of the Year, he has a strong claim to the award. Now former winner Kaka has backed him to clinch the acclaimed prize, joining plenty other admirers of the Dutch captain. He told Sky Italia (Via Liverpool Echo):
"We will see what happens in the future. Would I give the Ballon d’Or to Virgil van Dijk? I had some discussions talking about it with friends and with my brother and the name we chose is really his."
"He had a great season in the Premier League and won the Champions League playing in a crazy way."
He also called for defenders to get recognition at the ceremony. He added:
"We’ll see what the judges will decide but it’s time to reward a defender."
Messi has had a great season with Barcelona and his odds for lifting the trophy for a record sixth time remain high. He will be assured of the title if he wins the Copa America with Argentina.
In the meantime, we will have to wait and see if this is the year a defender rises above the flamboyant attackers.
Van Dijk's Netherlands will face Ronaldo's Portugal in the maiden UEFA Nations League final on 10 June.