Why Virgil Van Dijk will win the Ballon d'Or
"He’s our center-half, he’s our number four.
Watch him defend and we watch him score.
He can pass the ball, calm as you like.
He’s Virgil Van Dijk, he’s Virgil Van Dijk!"
Liverpool managed to get 97 points this season in the Premier League, the most managed by a team in second position, and they finally ended their trophy drought by winning the Champions League by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0. Arguably the key to their success was Virgil van Dijk.
The colossal Dutchman has undoubtedly been the best center-back in the world. With him at the heart of the Liverpool defence, they have conceded just 22 goals all season in the Premier League, the lowest by any team this campaign. Van Dijk has also played in every Champions League and Premier League match this season.
He has also won the PFA player's player of the year, was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and won the PFA player of the year. The stats point to greatness as well. He wins more than 70% of his aerial duels, his tackling and interceptions are on point, and his reading and awareness of the game is impressive.
Although the Liverpool captaincy may change between Jordan Henderson and James Milner, Van Dijk is also most definitely a leader. He is a commanding presence at the back and has transformed Liverpool's backline into one of the best in the world.
In addition, he has also been excellent for the Netherlands. His international performances are often overshadowed by his Premier League performances. He has formed a terrifying partnership with defensive prodigy Matthijs de Light and has helped his team reach the semi-finals of the Nations League.
Van Dijk's biggest competitor for the trophy is Lionel Messi. He has also had an incredible campaign, helping Barcelona win the La Liga, reach the Copa Del Rey finals and the Champions League semi-finals. He also leads La Liga in goals and assists.
With these two having such an incredible campaign, their international performances in the next couple of months could very well decide who wins the Ballon d'Or. Van Dijk and the Netherlands can consider themselves favorites to win the Nations League, which also means qualification for the 2020 Euros.
This is a new golden era for Dutch football, with the likes of Frankie de Jong, De Ligt, Memphis Depay, and Geroginio Wijnaldum all included in the squad.
Messi also has the chance to win an international trophy at the Copa America, to be hosted by Brazil this time. Argentina are considered one of the favourites to win the trophy, but the hosts will pose the biggest threat.