Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has admitted he was disappointed to lose out on the Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi.
The £75m centre back was tipped to become the first defender to win the prestigious award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
In the end though it was Messi who claimed the prize for the sixth time. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Van Dijk admitted he was “slightly disappointed” to lose out but says he still had a great night at the awards ceremony anyway.
“I was slightly disappointed. I decided I would still go to the ceremony – and, in the end, it was a super night. I spoke to Messi during the evening. It was not the longest conversation because he doesn’t speak a lot of English. But it was still enough to make me realise that the respect between us now also runs the other way.”
In an era when football’s greatest ever player is doing his thing, it is going to be hard for anyone to claim the award, never mind a defender. For Van Dijk to push him all the way is amazing and a true testament to just how good the Dutch defender has been.
The Liverpool centre-back, although disappointed, has three winners’ medals to cheer him up. Most importantly he can look back at an historic win in the Champion League, which I’m sure Messi and the Barcelona side we beat on route to the trophy wish they had.
If Van Dijk maintains his performance levels, there is no reason why this time next year he cannot beat Messi to the crown and be named football’s best player in 2020.