Lionel Messi News: Liverpool legend feels Messi ahead of Van Dijk for the Ballon d'Or title
What's the story?
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher is of the opinion that Barcelona's Lionel Messi has moved ahead of Virgil van Dijk in the race for the 2019 Ballon d'Or title, following the Netherlands' loss to Portugal in the UEFA Nations League final last night.
Portugal won the UEFA Nations League final in Porto, beating the Netherlands 1-0, thanks to a second half goal from Goncalo Guedes.
In case you didn't know...
Messi enjoyed a spectacular individual season with Barcelona, racking up 51 goals across all comepetitions and leading the Catalan giants to yet another La Liga title. The mercurial Argentine finished the 2018-19 season with a record-equalling sixth Pichichi, a record sixth European Golden Shoe and also being the top goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League.
Messi, however, failed to inspire Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final second leg as the Spanish champions bottled a three-goal lead to lose 4-0 against Liverpool at Anfield. And despite the Argentine scoring against Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, Barcelona lost the game 2-1. He is set to captain Argentina in the upcoming Copa America and will be looking to win a major senior international trophy with his country.
On the other hand, Van Dijk was in fine form for Liverpool last season, overseeing the meanest defence in the Premier League. Conceding just 22 goals in 38 league games, the Reds gave eventual winners Manchester City a run for their money till the final matchday.
Van Dijk was also instrumental in Liverpool winninng their sixth European Cup/Champions League title, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the final in Madrid. The Dutchman also ably captained the Netherlands to the final of the UEFA Nations League.
The heart of the matter
Carragher, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2004-05, believes Messi is now the favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after Van Dijk failed to lift the inaugural UEFA Nations League trophy with the Netherlands.
"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.
"I think that Cannavaro got it on the back of winning the World Cup in 2006. I don’t think his game has changed too much over the season.
"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.
"But I think when you win something big, that’s when you really cement yourself at that level and I think he is the best in the world in that position. He’s proven himself. But, Ballon d’Or, I think Messi."
Messi's Argentina will kick off their Copa America campaign against Colombia on 15th June.
On the other hand, Van Dijk could feature for Liverpool in their pre-season friendly against Tranmere Rovers on 11th July.