Virgil van Dijk doesn’t doubt Lionel Messi’s credentials for the Ballon d’Or despite strengthing his own case by starring in Liverpool’s Champions League victory.
Van Dijk once again came to the rescue for Liverpool, with the centre-back and goalkeeper Allison Becker keeping a desperate Tottenham at bay in Madrid on Saturday night.
Alisson had, in fact, pulled off several fine saves from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen.
On the other hand, Van Dijk was once more a commanding presence in the Liverpool backline. The Dutchman’s response in the final 15 minutes when Son came within a chance of scoring was brilliant.
Therefore, Jurgen Klopp’s side secured a 2-0 win in the Spanish capital following Mohamed Salah’s early penalty and Divock Origi’s late strike.
Despite his massive role in securing Liverpool the Champions League crown this season, however, Van Dijk reckons there is still only one clear favourite for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
“I think Messi is the best player in the world,” said Van Dijk, according to AOL.
“He deserves it as long as he plays, so the Ballon d’Or is not something I’m thinking of. If it happens obviously I would take it, but I don’t think there is any [chance].
“He is still the best player in the world. It doesn’t matter if he’s not in the Champions League final.”
The Reds’ decision to fork out an incredible £67m to sign Allison from AS Roma last summer proved to be an inspired decision.
The Brazilian keeper won the Premier League Golden Glove award. He then capped off his debut campaign with some stunning second-half saves to help Liverpool win the Champions League final.
It marked a strong contrast to Loris Karius’ costly blunders in last season’s 3-1 final defeat to Real Madrid.
But Van Dijk insists a change in goalkeeper was not the key behind Liverpool’s success.
“It’s not the main difference,” said the 27-year-old.
“Football is not about one player. We win together, we lose together.
“Ali was there to save us from a couple of shots from Son [Heung-min] and everyone was trying to do their bit for the team.
“In the second half we were a bit sitting back, they put pressure on us, looked a bit dangerous – it happens in games. But we prepared for it, you know there are moments in games where you’re going to have difficulties.”