Ballon d'Or: 'Virgil van Dijk deserves the Ballon d'Or', Ronald Koeman backs his compatriot over Lionel Messi
What's the story?
The Netherlands manager, Ronald Koeman, asserted that Virgil van Dijk deserves the Ballon d'Or ahead of Lionel Messi this year.
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Virgil van Dijk has enjoyed a stellar 2018/19 campaign, helping Liverpool in lifting their sixth Champions League trophy. The Reds finished second in the Premier League behind Manchester City by a narrow margin of one point.
From a personal perspective, the defender has dominated Liverpool's defence this season. The Dutchman has transformed the dynamics of Jurgen Klopp's side since his arrival in January 2018, appearing in two UCL finals and accumulated 97 points in the league.
The 27-year-old's colossal performances this season have made him a genuine contender for this year's Ballon d'Or. If he win the Ballon d'Or, he will be the first defender to do so since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
The heart of the matter
The Dutch national team manager, Ronald Koeman, gave an interview to Oranje's Youtube channel ahead of his side's UEFA Nations League semi-final clash against England.
During his interview at Oranje's Youtube channel, Koeman was asked about this year's Ballon d'Or contenders and the Barca legend praised Lionel Messi for his dominance by saying. However, Koeman also mentioned that his fellow countryman has the best chance to attain personal recognition this year due to Champions League success. His comments read as follows-
“He deserves 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."
“In my opinion Messi is the best player, but I also think you should win big trophies with your team to be a contestant."
Netherlands will face Portugal in UEFA Nations League final after beating England in the semi-final.