Liverpool fans unveil 'Ballon d'Or stolen' banner for Virgil van Dijk

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Virgil van Dijk will finish 2019 a Champions League winner and the best defender in the world - but he won't have a Ballon d'Or to show for it. 

Instead, Lionel Messi was crowned with the award for the sixth time on Monday evening. 

The Dutchman came a close second, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo but seven points behind the Argentine. 

It's reopened the debate about what *exactly* the Ballon d'Or is supposed to reward.

It is, after all, an annual competition, so it's unsurprising that many Liverpool fans feel Van Dijk should have been recognised for his achievements this calendar year.

Otherwise, it may as well go to Messi every 12 months until he retires. 

At least the centre-back can rest assured that in the eyes of everyone at Liverpool, he's the moral winner. Never mind what France Football and the voting journalists think. 

To illustrate that point, supporters unfurled a banner outside Anfield ahead of the Merseyside derby reading: 

"Ballon d'Or stolen. If found, please return to its rightful owner." 

Superb - but was Van Dijk really robbed? 

Messi has also had a sublime 2019, scoring 47 times since January. Only Robert Lewandowski has scored more in the whole of Europe.

In truth, it was incredibly close between the pair and the Ballon d'Or usually tends to favour goalscorers. 

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That said, it does beg the question of what a defender has to do to win it if Van Dijk has been overlooked this year. 

The former Celtic and Southampton man has completely transformed Liverpool's defence beyond recognition and has them sitting top of the Premier League. 

Perhaps a title in 2020 could finally see him overtake Messi in next year's ceremony. 

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