The Liverpool stopper puts team glory above personal gongs but is honoured to be considered in the hunt for the award given to the world’s best player
Virgil van Dijk has said ‘the time has come’ for a defender to get the Ballon d’Or as speculation builds that he is in the frame to scoop football’s top individual award.
The Liverpool defender has already collected the PFA’s Player of the Year award as his performances at the heart of the Reds defense inspired them to Champions League glory and a second-place finish in the Premier League.
The Netherlands international said he preferred his team’s win in the Champions League to personal honours, but admitted he was pleased to be considered for individual gongs as well.
“To get the PFA Player of the Year is a fantastic honour,” Van Dijk told 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.”
The last defender to win the Ballon d’Or was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Looking forward to next season, Liverpool’s skipper said his team was focused on challenging on all fronts.
The Anfield club were pipped to the title by one point by Manchester City last time out, but Van Dijk believes his team have the drive and the ability to be in the hunt in 2019-20 as well.
“As a team, we’re going to try to compete in every competition and obviously it’s going to be hard because there are so many and the league is so tough as well,” the 28-year-old continued, “but the only thing we can do is try.
“We will give everything we’ve got and we have the quality as well. We’ll see where that leads us.”
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