Virgil van Dijk says maybe it’s time for a defender to win the Ballon d’Or

Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg

There could be only one winner of the 2018-19 PFA Player of the Year award: Virgil van Dijk.

The Liverpool defender was a commanding presence in Jurgen Klopp’s side, playing every minute of the Premier League campaign en route to finishing a single point behind Manchester City.

Van Dijk also played all but one of the Reds’ 13 Champions League fixtures as they won the competition for the first time since 2005.

Looking solely at his individual statistics, it’s no exaggeration to say Liverpool wouldn’t have been the same team without him.

Across all competitions, Van Dijk made 50 appearances, kept 26 clean sheets, conceded 34 goals and didn’t lose a single one-on-one duel.

Such impressive figures do beg the question: has he done enough to win the Ballon d’Or?

Well, there’s a serious conversation going on about Van Dijk’s chances of becoming the first defender to win the most prestigious prize in football since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

In fact, the man himself believes it’s high time that the players preventing goals received as much recognition as those scoring them.

“To get the PFA Player of the Year is a fantastic honour,” Van Dijk told Liverpool’s official website.

“It’s the highest honour you can get because it’s voted by your fellow peers.

“I said it back then as well, I would trade it for the Champions League. Luckily, I didn’t have to.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

“It’s an honour if people are talking about [the Ballon d’Or], but what can I do? I have no influence on anything.

“I can’t deny I had a pretty good season last year, so the only thing I can do now is just focus on the new season, getting fit, stay fit and hopefully get an even better season than I had last year.

“I can understand the fact that normally strikers or No. 10’s win these awards because it’s more attractive to see. But maybe the time has come to change it.”

Van Dijk can expect stiff competition from Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, not to mention the perennial candidates in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, with a Champions League medal around his neck, the Dutchman is firmly in contention to shake things up come the September 23 ceremony in Milan.

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