Ballon d'Or 2019: Why Virgil van Dijk could win his maiden Ballon d'Or this year and what could stop him
Virgil van Dijk's association with the 2019 Ballon d'Or is stronger than ever as fans, particularly the Red brigade, are clamoring for the defender to win the prestigious award at the end of the year.
The fuss is not shallow-rooted too. The Liverpool center-back has commanded one of the meanest defences in Europe, with his reading of the game and his intelligence making him a worthy leader at the heart of the Reds back-line.
van Dijk remains one of the two overwhelming favourites in this year's race for football's most prestigious award alongside Lionel Messi. Here, we take a look at why the Dutchman could become the first defender in over a decade to win the Ballon d'Or and the reasons why he could miss out on it.
Why he might win:
It only took a season at Anfield for Van Dijk to cement his name as one of the best center-backs in the world. The Netherlands international appears to have paved the way for defenders to finally receive due credit for a team's successes in modern football.
The central defender has a commanding presence in the back line which, coupled with his awareness and physical ability, has greatly aided Liverpool’s evolution into one of the best sides in Europe. With the Dutchman at the heart of their defence, the Reds only conceded 22 goals throughout the Premier League season.
The 27-year-old’s consistent performances saw him win the PFA Player of the Year award, which is the first time a defender has won the prize since John Terry in 2005.
van Dijk recently also captained a resurgent Netherlands team to the UEFA Nations League final where they will battle Portugal for the inaugural trophy.
Liverpool's Champions League victory has edged van Dijk even closer to his maiden Ballon d'Or award and let's also not forget, this is a man no player has been able to dribble past all season. Sensational.
Why he might not win:
Lionel Messi. With an impressive 97-point haul in the Premier League and a Champions League victory, the Argentine maestro appears to be the only reason Van Dijk might miss out on the award.
The Barcelona captain has been in the form of his life, topping goal-scoring charts in both LaLiga and Europe. He may have missed out on the Champions League, but if the Ballon d'Or really chooses to look at individual performances over titles this year, Liverpool's star Dutchman could be in trouble.