Liverpool centre back Virgil Van Dijk is being very much touted as a credible candidate to win this year’s Ballon d’OR ahead of the legendary Lionel Messi.
Last season in the Premier League, the Dutchman was a player in a side that pushed until the very last day to try and secure a first league title on Merseyside since the 1989/90 season. Not only that but he was also crucial for the Reds on their way to a sixth Champions League title. His season has impressed neutrals worldwide so much that SkyBet customers can find him at odds as short as 4/6 for the most luxurious prize in football, making him the outright favourite.
The start of his Liverpool career was far from straightforward with many questioning such a dramatic fee, reported as a current world record for a defender, as £75m. It could be argued that it was more his price tag that people were looking to judge him on, rather than his natural footballing ability. That now appears to be in the past, with many seeing him as the best in his position.
There can be no arguments that since the mammoth of a man arrived at the club, there has been a major uptake in the club’s fortunes. Having finalised his first full season Anfield in the Premier League, back in May, Van Dijk help adapt what was a fairly average back line, into the best. Liverpool recorded the least amount of goals conceded and 18 fewer than 2017/18, where they only managed to concede one less than Burnley.
In 2017/18 Van Dijk only featured partially after joining in January. The Red’s defence at the time was constantly being questioned, while some of the players were being ridiculed and thought of as not good enough. However, things now are much brighter with a couple of key additions, including Van Dijk. Although, Alisson Becker was also an instrumental figure in his first season. T
Van Dijk brings much more than his own ability to the side, which is rare to find in defenders in the current generation, he appears to instil confidence in his teammates and bring out an extra something from those around him. A prime example would be Joel Matip, someone who was clearly struggling before the Dutchman was brought in. In complete contrast, he now looks to be a rejuvenated asset. The former Schalke man put in a superb display in which Liverpool won the Champions League last season.
His Liverpool career stay only be short, but as things stand it’s looking like it will be very successful. He has already appeared in three finals today since penning a deal with the Reds. While one came internationally with the Netherlands in the Nations League. He has also featured in back to back finals in the Champions League with his parent club, winning one.
A solid list of achievements whilst in being part of both sides, only goes to highlight the importance of the 27-year-old. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get across the line with his national side to win a second trophy inside a month.
Can he go on to add the Ballon d’OR to his already collect PFA Player of the Year?
(Image via Virgil van Dijk Twitter)