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Can Lionel Messi still beat Van Dijk to the Ballon d’Or this year?

Virgil Van Dijk Liverpool news
Virgil Van Dijk Liverpool

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has been the front-runner to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or ever since he helped his side win the Champions League back in June, picking up the Man of the Match award in June, however, the latest betting indicates the Dutchman might not have it wrapped up after all.

The Barcelona forward has been in excellent form recently in La Liga and if he were to be successful, in what is regarded as the most prestigious player award in world football, he would hold the trophy for a record six times, going one ahead of his rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award earlier this year where he finished ahead of Van Dijk who was expected to come out on top.

In the 2018/19 campaign, Messi scored 36 league goals, more than anybody else across Europe. He was integral in helping his side win the league championship in Spain for the fourth time in the last five years. The 32-year-old has already scored five goals this season where his side are top of the table and odds-on at 1/2 in the La Liga betting to defend their crown once again.

Unfortunately for Messi and his teammates, they were eliminated in the semi-final of the Champions League last season to Liverpool.

Barca held a 3-0 advantage after the first leg at the Nou Camp where Messi scored a brace in the final. They were beaten 4-0 at Anfield though which meant they went down 4-3 on aggregate, and that negatively impacted his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.

Van Dijk Looking To Become The First Defender To Win The Award Since 2006

No defender has won the Ballon d’Or Award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. The Italian led his country to World Cup success that year, a tournament which was enough for Real Madrid to go out to sign him from Juventus after it.

Since moving to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018, Van Dijk has helped transform the Premier League club’s defence. His side lost just one game in the league last season where they fell a single point short of Manchester City. The Dutchman’s performances led to him winning the PFA Player of the Year award following the 2018/19 campaign.

Not only has Van Dijk proved instrumental for his club, but he is also part of Holland’s transformation. Just a few years ago, the Dutch were struggling on the international stage and failing to qualify for major tournaments. Earlier this year they reached the Nations League final where they lost to Portugal, while they are top of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign ahead of Germany at the moment.

The next six weeks could prove crucial in determining whether it is Van Dijk or Messi who is crowned the best player in Europe for 2019.