Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher fully believes that Lionel Messi will beat Virgil van Dijk in the race for the 2019 Ballon d'Or.
Speaking after Portugal's 1-0 win against the Netherlands in the Nations League final, the Sky Sports pundit put his Liverpool allegiances on hold and backed the Barcelona captain to secure France Football's top prize.
"I saw he [Van Dijk] has gone ahead of Messi in the betting. I'd be thinking Messi, to be honest -- very rarely you see a centre-back get that," he said.
"I think that [Fabio] Cannavaro got it on the back of winning the World Cup in 2006. [But] I don't think his game has changed too much over the season.
"He's obviously had a great season, but I think you've got to win big things and I think that Champions League has put that stamp on him being one of the world's best.
"Earlier this season, we always spoke about [Gerard] Piqué and [Sergio] Ramos not necessarily that they were performing better than Van Dijk -- but they have the medals for club and country."
Bookies have had Van Dijk as the favourite for the Ballon d'Or ahead of Messi.
But Carragher believes that missing out on the Nations League trophy was a big blow to the 27-year-old Dutch centre-back's ambitions of winning the Ballon d'Or.
"That's why he'll be disappointed today [missing out on Nations League]. Obviously, it's not a World Cup or a Euros, but it's just that nice little trophy for his country," he explained.
"But I think when you win something big, that's when you really cement yourself at that level and I think he is the best in the world in that position.
"He's proven himself. But Ballon d'Or, I think Messi."
Messi picked up the European Golden Shoe and the Pichichi Trophy (awarded to La Liga's top scorer) in Barcelona's title-winning season.
But even thousands of fans would agree with Carragher after voting for Messi to win the Ballon d'Or ahead of Van Dijk.
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