Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or after claiming the Champions League title, according to Anfield legend John Barnes.
You would struggle to find another player who has made as much of an impact as the Dutchman has in 18 months at Anfield.
In future years, Van Dijk’s £75million arrival in January 2018 may be remembered as the starting point of a new era of success for the Merseyside giants – people will talk about BVD (before Van Dijk) and AVD (after Van Dijk).
In fact, had the club not signed the centre-back or £67m goalkeeper Alisson, Liverpool probably wouldn’t be celebrating their sixth European Cup success – both were key in their scrappy final victory over Tottenham in Madrid.
PFA Player of the Year Van Dijk has cemented his status as one of the world’s best defenders this season, and Barnes believes he would be a worthy winner when the Ballon d’Or is awarded later in the year.
He is undoubtedly the strongest contender to rival Lionel Messi for the gong.
Fans raged last year when World Cup and Champions League winner Luka Modric won the prize ahead of Messi, who finished fifth in the voting despite scoring 45 goals and winning LaLiga and Copa del Rey titles for Barcelona.
This season, Messi scored a stunning 51 goals and provided 22 assists in 50 games for Barca, and has been widely tipped to win his SEVENTH Golden Ball.
But, asked if Van Dijk on course to win the coveted gong, Barnes told talkSPORT: “Very possibly.
“Normally when you look at the Ballon d’Or winners, they’re either attacking midfield players or centre-forwards. They are goalscorers and eye-catching players.
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“But there haven’t been any of those types of players who have really set the world alight this season.
“So from a point of consistency and from a point of success, for me Van Dijk would have to be the man.”