Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes it would be a big ask for Virgil van Dijk, to pip Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or crown regardless of the outstanding season the Dutch defender has enjoyed for both club and country.
Van Dijk was instrumental at the back for Liverpool all season, helping the Reds to a second-place finish in the Premier League, before overcoming Tottenham Hotspur to win the Champions League at the beginning of June.
Following his remarkable form and consistency in 2018/19, the 27-year-old is now bookmakers’ favorite to collect the best player in Europe prize, but former Reds’ defender, Carragher, is convinced that Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, will win the coveted award.
Carragher was speaking on Sky Sports: ‘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 (Fabio) 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 (Gerard) Pique and (Sergio) Ramos not necessarily that they were performing better than Van Dijk – but they have the medals for club and country.’
The defender missed out on a chance of more silverware on Sunday as Holland were beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the final of the Nations League.
‘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.’
Virgil Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018, and has significantly helped Liverpool to become more stable in their defensive quarter with his impressive ability to reading play.