Barcelona’s Gerard Pique says Virgil van Dijk deserves to be in contention for the Ballon D’Or but warned that it is always difficult for defenders to get recognition.
Van Dijk’s chances of winning the ultimate individual honour have to be taken very seriously after he earned the UEFA Player of the Year award on Thursday.
But veteran defender Pique, who has won eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with the Catalan giants, feels the ‘game is made for strikers’.
Predictably, he’s thrown his support behind Lionel Messi, whom he labelled ‘by far the best player in the world’.
“I always said that for me, if you have to vote for the best player of them all, you have to vote for Lionel Messi,” Pique told Express Sport.
“For the last ten years he has been by far the best player in the world, but it is fair enough that Van Dijk has done a great season and he should be there fighting for it.
“It is not easy. This game is made for strikers. When they score they are the stars and when they don’t score, normally nothing happens.
“For keepers and defenders, it is more difficult. When you do a good job it is difficult for people to recognise you but when you make a mistake you are everywhere. Normally strikers will win it.”
Van Dijk won nearly 100 more votes than Messi for the UEFA prize, strengthening his status as the favourite.
But Pique is right insofar as only three defenders have won the Ballon D’Or since its inception in 1956.
Taking it would underline the Dutchman’s potential to be one of the very best of all time in his specific discipline.