Ballon d'Or 2019: Liverpool icon explains why Lionel Messi deserves the award over Virgil van Dijk
What's the story?
In case you didn't know...
Van Dijk has emerged as the bookmakers' favourite to win football's most prestigious award courtesy of his solid performances at the centre of the Liverpool defence all season. The Dutchman's intelligence and game awareness have made him a great leader to the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in the Liverpool backline.
With the 27-year-old in their ranks, the Reds only conceded 22 goals in the Premier League this past season. His exploits helped him to win the PFA Player of the Year award and played a pivotal role in Liverpool's Champions League victory.
Meanwhile, Messi was in scintillating form for Barcelona, with 51 goals to his name in all competitions. The Argentine maestro concluded his first campaign as team captain with a La Liga title and a host of individual prizes like the Pichichi trophy and the European Golden Shoe.
The 31-year-old also finished as the top-scorer in the Champions League despite missing out on the summit clash after a loss to Liverpool in the semi-finals.
The heart of the matter
Despite Van Dijk's stellar season, Carragher believes Messi still has the upper hand when it comes to the Ballon d'Or. Speaking to Sky Sports (via Goal), Carragher said: "I saw he’s gone ahead of Messi in the betting. I’d be thinking Messi to be honest – very rarely you see a centre-back get that."
"He’s obviously had a great season but I think you’ve got to win big things and I think that Champions League has put that stamp on him being one of the world’s best."
"When we spoke earlier this season we always spoke about Pique and Ramos not necessarily that they were performing better than Van Dijk – but they have the medals for club and country. That’s why he’ll be disappointed today [missing out on Nations League]. Obviously it’s not a World Cup or a Euros but it’s just that nice little trophy for his country."
"I think he is the best in the world in that position. He’s proven himself. But, Ballon d’Or, I think Messi."
With half of the year still remaining, it remains to be seen how the Ballon d'Or rankings fluctuate once the next season begins.