Here is why Virgil Van Dijk could win the Ballon d’Or despite Lionel Messi’s 51 goals this year.
Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk defeated Lionel Messi to the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. The Dutch International became the first-ever defender to lift this prestigious award.
It was shared between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo between 2011 and 2017 before Luka Modric broke the familiarity. Upon winning the Men’s Player of the year, Centre-half Virgil Van Dijk is tipped to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
Ballon d’Or is handed over to the best player over the calendar year. With both the on-field performances and off-field behaviours taken into account, the nominees have done exceptionally well this season. Virgil Van Dijk, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are the three shortlisted candidates running for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated this award by winning it five apiece. They are the record-holders of this award, but they are in danger for the second consecutive time. They lost to Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric last year, and Virgil Van Dijk could upset them by clinching this award this time.
During their domination period, it’s fair to point out the fingers at other deserving candidates. Wesley Sneijder, on the back of a stellar season with Inter Milan and the Netherlands in 2010, deserved to lift it. He was integral to his club and country’s success, with the domestic treble and finishing runners-up in the World Cup.
Goals were hard to come by for Manuel Neuer’s opponents in 2014. The German International completed the Domestic double before beating Lionel Messi to the World Cup. But, Cristiano Ronaldo won the award.
In a recent interview, Liverpool shot-stopper Alisson Becker revealed goalkeepers find it harder to lift this award because of people’s perception. The Brazilian became the first goalkeeper to win three goalkeeping honours in a single season by clinching the Premier League, Champions League, and Copa America golden gloves.
His notion is accurate. Entertainment is a major source in today’s fast-moving life. As for football watchers, it remains the same. Since the forwards produce silky moves and score resounding goals consistently, defenders and goalkeepers fail to get the deserved recognition.
Should the guardian in between the sticks and the backline protector produce consistent displays on a top-level for over a year, they should be in talks for the best player of the year award. The trend is slowly altering. Virgil Van Dijk has changed the landscape and has made the defenders and goalkeepers believe they could get their hands on this award.
Taking nothing away from Cristiano Ronaldo’s quality, Virgil Van Dijk and Lionel Messi have been head and shoulders above the rest last season. It’s no secret that either one would lift the prestigious award this year.
Lionel Messi could win the Ballon d’Or for the first time since 2015, while Virgil Van Dijk could become the first defender to lift this award since Fabio Cannavaro did in 2006.
THE FAMILIAR FRANZ BECKENBAUER- GERD MULLER STORY:
Although this award has been conquered by the attackers over the last decade, Virgil Van Dijk could follow in the footsteps of Franz Beckenbauer. The German World Cup winner did not win it once but did it twice in 1972 and 1976.
When Franz Beckenbauer won the Ballon d’Or in 1972, his compatriot Gerd Muller scored 68 goals for his club and country. The duo was part of the side which won the Euro Championship in that year. In fact, the Ballon d’Or podium was dominated by the Germans, with Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Gunter Netzer (attacking midfielder).
Since the game wide open, Bayern Munich scored 101 goals and conceded 38 goals in the Bundesliga alone. En route to the Euro triumph, the backline headed by Beckenbauer conceded just three goals. Since he was a bulwark in the defence, some of his consistent performances were finally rewarded with this award. It’s no brainer that Gerd Muller equally deserved to lift this award.
Only seven defenders (excluding Virgil Van Dijk) have been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or top three till date. Out of that, only two have managed to lift that prestigious award. Virgil Van Dijk could create history by becoming the third defender to win this award or could be the eight defender to be part of the world’s best top three.
Similar to the Beckenbauer-Muller story, Virgil Van Dijk could repeat the same feet against Lionel Messi by registering his name to sit on the elite seat.