Virgil van Dijk admits he’s ‘honoured’ to be in the running to win the Ballon d’Or, but insists he won’t be overly disappointed if he misses out.
Van Dijk is the bookmakers’ favourite to land football’s top individual honour after emerging as the best defender on the planet in the eyes of countless observers.
He played a crucial role in his side’s monumental Premier League title assault and Champions League success.
It’s fair to say he faces some pretty stiff competition, though, with Lionel Messi looking to scoop the prize for the sixth time after another mesmerising domestic campaign.
The Dutchman is hopeful he can persuade voters with more rock-solid displays in the coming weeks, but says he could accept defeat.
“Obviously, I’m honoured to be mentioned as a candidate to win the Ballon d’Or, but the only way I can influence it is to just focus on playing well,” he said, as quoted by Goal.
“I don’t have a vote, but I am sure that the guys who do will come up with the right decision when the time is right. If I am picked, then I will be very honoured. But, if I’m not picked, then it won’t be the end of the world.
“Everyone has their opinion, but I feel good, I feel fit and I can keep improving.”
No defender has won the Ballon D’Or since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 after leading Italy to the World Cup, but Van Dijk is certainly good enough to put an end to that drought.
It’s also worth mentioning that his team-mate Alisson Becker is very much in the running, with nobody able to better his clean sheet tallies in the Premier League, Champions League or Copa America.
We’ll find out in December if either can become the first Liverpool player to be named World Player of the Year since Michael Owen in 2001.