Cape Town - Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk would be a
worthy winner of the Ballon d'Or due to his form over the past year, says
Van Dijk has excelled since moving to Anfield from
Southampton in January 2018 for a then world-record fee for a defender,
tightening up the backline and improving the side substantially.
The Dutchman has played in two Champions League finals since
his transfer and after finishing second last term in the Premier League, is
primed to help them top the standings for the first time since 1990.
Liverpool have a heavy presence in the running for Ballon
d'Or, with seven players making the long list. Alisson, Sadio Mane, Mohamed
Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum are also
candidates for the gong.
Van Dijk is the favourite of those though and Klopp sees no
reason why he would not deserve the award.
The 28-year-old was crowned UEFA Men's Player of the Year,
PFA Players' Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season last
term and is widely seen as the best centre-back in the world.
This year's ceremony takes place next Monday at Paris'
Theatre du Chatelet, two days before the first Merseyside derby of the year.
Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro was the
last defender to win the award, but the boss feels it is time for a change.
Klopp says that while, in his opinion at least, Lionel Messi
is the best player in the world, it is his Dutch defensive maestro who has been
the leading footballer on the planet over the last 12 months.
"If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this
generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That's how it
is," Klopp said. "But if you give it to the best player of last
season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don't know exactly how it will work but
that is how I see it.
"The best player of all? That's Lionel. Best player of
last season? That's Virgil. We will see."
- TeamTalk Media