Virgil van Dijk Backs Lionel Messi for Ballon d'Or After Liverpool Win UCLJune 2, 2019
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk believes Barcelona's Lionel Messi deserves to win the Ballon d'Or over him despite the Dutchman's sterling performance in the Reds' 2-0 UEFA Champions League final win over Tottenham Hotspur.
The former Celtic and Southampton star was a key man for the team all season and once again starred on Saturday, but after the match, he still backed Messi to win the individual award, per Goal: "I think Messi is the best player in the world. He should win the Ballon d'Or. So I'm not thinking of that. But if I win, I'll take it. Messi should win it though. He is the best in the world, whether he's in the final or not."
The Mirror shared video of the interview:
Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool an early lead from the penalty spot on Saturday, and Divock Origi bagged a goal late on to secure the Reds their sixth Champions League triumph.
Van Dijk lived up to the lofty standards he's set since joining Liverpool in January 2018, shutting down a Spurs attack led by Harry Kane throughout the contest.
It was the end to a superb campaign for the 27-year-old:
Former Saints team-mate Charlie Austin praised the Dutchman:
Van Dijk has already won several individual awards for his play in the Premier League this season, including the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season. On top of that, he and his team-mates knocked Messi and Barcelona out of the Champions League in the semi-finals.
The Argentinian was masterful in the first leg, scoring twice in a 3-0 win. But he didn't get on the scoresheet in the return leg, a 4-0 loss.
The Champions League win over the Blaugrana could be a huge factor in Van Dijk's bid to win the Ballon d'Or, as the winner of the award has played in the final in the past five years. Messi has already won it five times, his most recent coming in 2015.
Both players will be in action in major tournaments this summer, as Van Dijk and the Netherlands have qualified for the UEFA Nations League finals and Messi and Argentina will feature in the Copa America. The latter tournament carries more prestige.
Messi's biggest individual accomplishment of the season was winning yet another Golden Shoe after scoring 36 La Liga goals:
He also guided Barcelona to a dominant title run in La Liga, with the Blaugrana finishing 11 points ahead of runners-up Atletico Madrid and 19 ahead of Real Madrid.
Liverpool fell just short in their own domestic title push, finishing one point behind champions Manchester City.