Sutton: Van Dijk is the third best player in the world

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and team mate Joe Gomez celebrate following the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium on September 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk should have been a nominee for this year’s Ballon d’Or as he is the third best player in the world, says Chris Sutton

The Netherlands captain has impressed at Anfield following his £75m move from Southampton in January, which is a world record fee in football for a defender.

Alongside Dejan Lovren, Van Dijk has now helped Liverpool form one of Europe’s most formidable defences.

But the 27-year-old was overlooked in the 30-man shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or, despite four of his Liverpool teammates being included.

This is something that former Chelsea striker Sutton fails to understand given that he rates Van Dijk behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as football’s most gifted player.

“It may not be fashionable to mention a defender when you have a conversation like this, but when you look at the difference Virgil van Dijk has made to Liverpool then you can see just how good he is,” Sutton told the BBC.

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“There is not an attribute you need as a defender that he does not have – he is quick, strong, consistent and he does not seem to lose his concentration.

“He also has tremendous distribution when he is on the ball, and he reads the game so well. He has got the lot.

“There will be a clamour for Eden Hazard and other attacking players – and I understand that – but Van Dijk has shown the difference a brilliant defender can make to any side.”

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker are the four Liverpool players nominated for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

Liverpool will take a trip to Huddersfield Town on Saturday in the Premier League.