Virgil van Dijk video shows him bossing opponents 1v1

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League

Not since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 has a defender been awarded the Ballon d'Or.

Throughout history, the accolade has overwhelmingly tended to reward attacking players.

In fact, only three defenders have ever been recognised - but could Virgil van Dijk soon be the fourth?

The Dutchman was named PFA Player of the Year in 2018/19 as he helped Liverpool to a second-place finish.

Further bolstering his credentials is his Champions League winners' medal. The Reds lifted their sixth European title and Van Dijk played in all but one of their fixtures along the way.

In all competitions, he was instrumental in keeping 26 clean sheets and not a single player was able to get past him one-on-one.

The former Southampton defender has become notoriously difficult to dribble past and whether anyone has beaten him at all in the past year has been a subject of debate.

To put it in perspective, the following compilation shows the 28-year-old taking on over 50 players 1v1 and - lo and behold - there was only one winner every time. 

Some of his more high-profile opponents across his time with Celtic, Southampton, Liverpool, and the Netherlands national side include the likes of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. 

Even the world's best can't find a way through. 

It goes a long way towards explaining why Liverpool conceded just 22 league goals last season, fewer than any side in the top five European leagues. 

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League  Final

It remains to be seen whether that's enough for a Ballon d'Or but in the meantime, Van Dijk gave his thoughts on his credentials to Liverpool's official website:

“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.”

Should Van Dijk win Ballon d'Or? Have your say in the comments. 

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