Virgil Van Dijk Says 'Time Has Come' For Defender To Win Ballon d'Or Award
Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk believes 'the time has come' for a defender to win the Ballon d'Or after years of dominance from attacking players.
You have to go back as far as 2006 for the last time a defender won the esteemed individual prize when Fabio Cannavaro was rewarded for an excellent year in which he captained Italy to the World Cup.
After winning the Champions League and producing a man of the match display in the final against Spurs, along with picking up the PFA Player of the Year courtesy of a series of imperious defensive displays for the Reds in the Premier League, Van Dijk is a leading contender for this year's Ballon d'Or.
And though the man himself is more focussed on winning silverware with his team, he wants to see defenders get the same credit that the attackers receive when it comes to individual awards.
"To get the PFA Player of the Year is a fantastic honour," Van Dijk said in an interview with Liverpool's official website.
"It's the highest honour you can get because it's voted by your fellow peers. I said it back then as well, I would trade it for the Champions League. Luckily, I didn't have to.
"It's an honour if people are talking about [the Ballon d'Or], but what can I do? I have no influence on anything.
"I can't deny I had a pretty good season last year, so the only thing I can do now is just focus on the new season, getting fit, stay fit and hopefully get an even better season than I had last year.
"I can understand the fact that normally strikers or No. 10's win these awards because it's more attractive to see. But maybe the time has come to change it."
Van Dijk has inevitably had a lot of Ballon d'Or related questions thrown his way but when asked about following the Champions League triumph in Madrid, he was adamant that Lionel Messi should win the trophy for the sixth time.
SPORTbible put the question to our audience on Twitter and after 30,000 votes were cast on a poll, 54 per cent concurred with the Dutch defender that Messi should win.
Who deserves to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or? :trophy:- SPORTbible (@sportbible) June 5, 2019