Steven Gerrard says Virgil van Dijk deserves to win Ballon d'Or over Lionel Messi

Liverpool FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

Beyond the city walls of Liverpool, it will now be a huge surprise if Virgil van Dijk wins the 2019 Ballon d'Or. 

The ceremony takes place this evening and according to widespread reports, the name in the golden envelope is Lionel Messi. 

It's even been claimed that the Argentine was informed weeks ago. 

For the Barcelona forward, this would be his sixth award and would cap a year in which he has scored 41 goals in 44 games, most recently with a trademark winner against Atletico Madrid. 

Ballon d'Or voters tend to favour goalscorers. In fact, a defender hasn't won since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. 

Since then, none have come as close as van Dijk. 

The Liverpool vice-captain won the Champions League in June and has arguably been the key figure in transforming the Reds into the best side in England. 

The Netherlands international forms an integral part of a team that has lost only one league game in 2019, their defence conceding just 12 league goals this season so far. 

It's bold to suggest that Messi is not the best player in the world - he is, there's no question - but does that necessarily mean he needs to win the annual award every time? 

Steven Gerrard thinks not, as the Rangers boss is backing van Dijk due to both his consistency and his exploits in Europe. 

The Anfield legend was asked by a Dutch reporter whether he thinks van Dijk should beat Messi on this occasion.

"Yes, 100 per cent," he's quoted by the Daily Mail. 

"I'm Messi's No 1 fan, for sure. I love the player. Obscene numbers in his game in terms of assists and goals. I'm definitely a Messi fan, in the gang.

"But if you talk about consistency from one player over a year, who wins the European Cup and is absolutely faultless in every performance, that means you deserve to win the Ballon d'Or."

The very fact that any slight mistake the 28-year-old does make is seized upon so quickly is testament to just how incredible he's been. 

Regardless of individual awards, the centre-back can rest assured he has been phenomenal throughout 2019. 

The Ballon d'Or would just be the icing on the cake. 

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