Where would Liverpool be without Virgil van Dijk?
The talismanic Dutchman has helped to transform the Reds following his £75 million move from Southampton in January 2018.
The price tag shocked a lot of people at the time, but those who called the fee excessive have been made to look very silly over the past two years.
Van Dijk has been worth his weight in gold to the Reds. If they were to sell him now, they’d fetch at least double the price they paid for him.
The 28-year-old is now widely regarded as the world’s best centre-back and has deservedly picked up a couple of prestigious individual accolade this year, including the Premier League Player of the Season and The Best FIFA Men’s Player awards.
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But can he add the biggest individual prize of all to his collection?
Van Dijk finds himself in competition with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award.
It was reported earlier this week that Messi will be crowned the Ballon d’Or winner for a record-breaking sixth time on December 2 - although nothing has been confirmed yet.
The winner has already been decided, but Van Dijk reminded everyone why he’s in contention with another brilliant performance for Liverpool against Brighton on Saturday.
The Netherlands international scored a first-half brace to seal a vital 2-1 victory for the Reds, who now sit 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
And after the match, James Milner posted a tweet, calling for his world-class teammate to win the Ballon d’Or next week.
The midfielder tweeted: “Nice one Virg - now go and bring home that Ballon d’Or ✌🏻 #YNWA”
Millions of Liverpool fans agree with you, James.
Within half-and-hour of being sent, the tweet had already generated 1,000 retweets and 8,700 ‘likes’.
But do the bookmakers agree?
Well, not quite.
Van Dijk is currently the second favourite to win the Ballon d’Or, priced at 6/1.
Messi is the overwhelming favourite, priced at 1/12 - probably because of those reports in various Spanish newspapers this week.
But if Van Dijk upsets the odds, he will be a worthy winner.
Not only did he win last season’s Champions League with Liverpool, but he was also part of the Dutch side that reached the final of the inaugural Nations League in the summer.
Has he had a better 2019 than Messi? That’s what the world’s leading football journalists have decided between them… and we’ll know the answer next week.News Now - Sport News