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Ballon d’Or News: Former Barcelona star picks Van Dijk over Messi to win the Ballon d’Or

04 Jun 2019, 10:14 IST

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg
Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

What is the story?

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman has backed Virgil van Dijk to win this year's Ballon d’Or, ahead of Lionel Messi.

In case you didn’t know….

Van Dijk had a stellar campaign for Liverpool, with the centre-back playing a key role as the Reds won their sixth European Cup/Champions League trophy. The Dutch international was a rock at the heart of Liverpool's defense throughout the season.

The way he handled Messi in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final helped Liverpool immensely to mastermind the historic comeback. The Dutchman also kept Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur quiet in the final in Madrid last weekend.

However, when asked about the Ballon d’Or favourites, Van Dijk was modest in his answer, choosing Messi ahead of himself.

"I think Messi is the best player in the world. He should win the Ballon d'Or.
"So I'm not thinking of that. But if I win, I'll take it. Messi should win it though. He is the best in the world, whether he's in the final or not."

On the other hand, despite enduring a terrible finish to the season, Messi had a stellar campaign in terms of personal achievements. The Barcelona skipper won his sixth European Golden Shoe with 36 goals in La Liga, thereby securing the league title in the process.

The heart of the matter

When asked who sould win the Ballon d’Or this year, Koeman picked Van Dijk, with the former Barcelona star insisting that it is the "best time ever" to hand the accolade to a defender.

“Van Dijk deserves to win the Ballon d'Or.
"It's usually handed to players who make or create decisive goals, but if there ever is a time to give it to a defender, it is now."

What’s next?

Van Dijk and Netherlands will take on England in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League on 6th of June.

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