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2019 BALLON D'OR

Van Dijk: "Messi always deserves to win the Ballon d'Or"

Messi always deserves it – Van Dijk happy to forget about Ballon d'Or

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Virgil van Dijk was man of the match as Liverpool won the Champions League, but he thinks the Ballon d'Or belongs to Lionel Messi.

Virgil van Dijk insists Lionel Messi should win the Ballon d'Or despite his own star turn in a victorious Champions League final for Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur FC's Heung-Min Son and Liverpool's FC Virgil Van Dijk during the Final match of the UEFA Champions League played between Liverpool and Tottenham at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Juny 01, 2019.Virgil van Dijk in action against Tottenham

Assured performance

Centre-back Van Dijk was named man of the match as Jürgen Klopp's side claimed the trophy with a 2-0 win over Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano. Liverpool went ahead inside two minutes through a Mohamed Salah penalty and were grateful to Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson for keeping Spurs at bay before Divock Origi sealed the win with a late second.

MADRID, 01-06-2019, Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, season 2018 / 2019, UEFA Champions League Final. Liverpool FC player Georgino Wijnaldum and Liverpool FC player Virgil van Dijk during the game Tottenham Hotspur - LiverpoolLiverpool's Georgino Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk plays down Ballon d'Or chances

Van Dijk won the PFA Players' Player of the Year for his performances in the Premier League in 2018-19 and is likely to be among the favourites for the next Ballon d'Or after his display on Saturday. However, the Netherlands international said there should only be one candidate.

"I think Messi is the best player in the world," he told reporters. "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."

Crucial saves from Alisson

Alisson made some impressive stops in the second half to help Liverpool to glory, a year after they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in a final in which Loris Karius took the blame for some costly errors. Van Dijk, though, does not think a change in goalkeeper was key to their success this time.

"It's not the main difference," he said. "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."