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Liverpool Goalkeeper Adrian Says Virgil van Dijk 'Totally Deserves' Ballon d'Or

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2019

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Adrian of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian believes his team-mate Virgil van Dijk "totally deserves" to win the Ballon d'Or.    

Van Dijk has established himself as one of the standout players in the world during his time at Anfield and was crucial in Liverpool's UEFA Champions League crown last term. The Reds also had the best defensive record in the Premier League in 2018-19, as they finished runners-up to Manchester City.

Adrian was a summer arrival at Liverpool, joining to provide cover for Alisson Becker. Speaking to AS (h/t Chris Burton of Goal), the stopper compared the Dutchman with Real Madrid defender and compatriot Sergio Ramos:

"It is very difficult. For me they are the two best centre-backs in the world and would make an unstoppable partnership on any team. I think that having them in front of them, in defence, any goalkeeper in the world could be very calm. 

"I had the opportunity to train with Sergio in the national team. He is number one inside and outside the locker room. 

"And what can I say about Virgil that is not already known. He is at a spectacular level. He is a top centre-back. There is talk of him being a candidate to win the Golden Ball. For me, he totally deserves it. It is not easy being a defender in the Premier League and he showing that he has a spectacular level."

Adrian was called up to the Spain squad by former manager Julen Lopetegui in 2016, although he never made an appearance for the national side.

After Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final in June, broadcaster Mina Rzouki said Van Dijk deserved to be the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the sport's biggest individual accolade:

Mina Rzouki @Minarzouki

Probable Ballon d’Or winner - the first defender since Cannavaro. Surely he can’t be denied the honour. https://t.co/epeCc6ZswZ

Squawka Football provided the figures behind the Dutchman's incredible year:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Happy birthday Virgil van Dijk. 🎂 You might just be a Ballon d'Or winner this time next year... https://t.co/fbhZrxQaqB

Van Dijk has been a transformative player for manager Jurgen Klopp's team. Prior to his arrival, there was a lack of authority and assurance at the base of the side; Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez all showed inconsistency in form and fitness.

The former Southampton man has been peerless since signing in January 2018 and is now the best defender in the game in the eyes of many. His instincts are razor-sharp at the back, while he boasts the physical gifts to mix it with any forward in European football.

When asked about possibly being named the best player in the world, Van Dijk said it's not on his mind:

Squawka News @SquawkaNews

Virgil van Dijk on the Ballon d'Or: "Honestly, I do not think about it at all. For the simple reason that it's a vote, and that I have no hold or influence over him. I can not do anything to change my opinion of myself." https://t.co/knbgrSuZ8y

The current holder of the award is Luka Modric, who was sensational in Real Madrid's run to the Champions League in 2018, beating Van Dijk's Liverpool in the final. The midfielder also shone as Croatia made a shock run to the FIFA World Cup final that year, finishing as runners-up to France.

Van Dijk will no doubt be among the favourites for the top individual prize after an incredible year. The fact that he's in the reckoning as a defender is indicative of the standards the Liverpool man has set as of late.