Wednesday’s Copa America encounter between Brazil and Argentina is likely to have played a huge role in deciding the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
Lionel Messi has played at an irresistible level in 2019 but his season ended three crushing defeats.
They came against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final, against Valencia in the Copa del Rey final and against Brazil in the Copa America semi-final.
It means Messi finishes the 2018-19 season with just one trophy, when four were available.
And despite enjoying a brilliant individual season, scoring 51 goals in all competitions for Barcelona, winning tournaments is a crucial part when it comes to Ballon d’Or voting.
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So there’s every chance that Messi could miss out on a sixth Ballon d’Or success.
It may have been a different story had he won the Copa America with Argentina. But now, Virgil van Dijk is expected to win the Ballon d’Or.
Van Dijk is odds-on favourite
The Liverpool defender enjoyed an incredible season, winning the PFA Player of the Year award before helping the Reds win the Champions League.
And failing to win the Premier League or the UEFA Nations League isn’t expected to hurt Van Dijk; he is now the odds-on favourite to win the coveted individual accolade.
He is the 4/6 favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or with Sky Bet.
Messi is 6/5 and Cristiano Ronaldo is 12/1.
Ballon d'Or odds:
Virgil Van Dijk: 4/6
Lionel Messi: 6/5
Cristiano Ronaldo: 12/1
Mohamed Salah: 18/1
Eden Hazard: 25/1
Sadio Mane: 25/1
Bernardo Silva: 28/1
Alisson Becker: 33/1
Kylian Mbappe: 33/1
Raheem Sterling: 33/1
Should Van Dijk prevail, he will become the first defender since Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
The Netherlands centre-back made his £75 million transfer fee look like a bargain, helping Liverpool keep 21 clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
He’s elevated himself not just to one of the best defender in the Premier League, but one of the best players in the top flight according to Jamie Carragher.
"When you talk about the best players in the league, you automatically go for the attacking players. But Van Dijk is in the top five players in the Premier League - not just defenders, players,” Carragher told Sky Sports in June.
"Now, that might sound obvious as he got player of the year this season but year on year, if you said to me 'name the best players', I'd always put him in along with Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and so on.
“There might be someone who has a better season than some of those players one season but, consistently, they're the best - and Van Dijk will always be in that list."News Now - Sport News