De Jong: Messi is the best, deserves Ballon d'Or over Van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has had a great 2019 but Frenkie de Jong is adamant Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi deserves the Ballon d'Or.
Lionel Messi is the most deserving winner of the Ballon d'Or despite Virgil van Dijk's spectacular year for Liverpool, according to Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk was long considered the favourite for the prestigious individual honour having helped the Reds to Champions League glory last season.
Van Dijk has also impressed this term as Liverpool – agonisingly pipped to the 2018-19 Premier League title by Manchester City – have surged eight points clear at the summit.
However, Mundo Deportivo claimed on Tuesday that Messi has been told he has won the Ballon d'Or for the sixth time, meaning he will have edged out Van Dijk again having scooped FIFA's The Best Men's Player prize.
De Jong says there is no doubt Messi deserves the recognition.
Messi has to win it - De Jong
"For me, I said it a lot but Messi is the best player in the world so he has to win it," he said.
"Van Dijk had an amazing season, he is a great defender and one of the best players in the world.
"But Messi is above and he is by far the best."
De Jong completed his move to Camp Nou from Ajax in July and has been a standout performer in a Barca side who have failed to convince despite sitting top of LaLiga and Champions League Group F.
The Netherlands midfielder knows the team are capable of showing more consistency but is enjoying life in Catalonia ahead of Wednesday's visit of Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
"I'm really happy to be here. It's everything I dreamed of. Of course we can play better, we're working as hard as we can and hopefully everyone can see [on Wednesday] that we're improving," said De Jong.
"We can play better, I think we have an amazing team, most of the best players in the world, so we know we can perform better but we're winning, first in the most difficult group in the tournament. We're not doing really, really bad but of course we can do better.
"We know we can improve, we talk about it a lot, we're training a lot. There's not a single game where a team made no mistakes so it's normal to make mistakes. I think we can improve a lot but we're not playing as badly as people think."
Ernesto Valverde's men have yet to make sure of a place in the knockout stages, although victory at home to Dortmund will get the job done.
"We know it's really important, if we win we qualify, we're already first in the group," De Jong added.
"It's really important for us, qualifying for the next stage is the most important thing."