Former Liverpool attacker Ryan Babel has claimed that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk should be in contention to receive the converted Ballon d’Or award.
Van Dijk has had an exceptional season for Liverpool, with the defender’s calming presence helping Jurgen Klopp’s side to concede the fewest goals in the Premier League last term, as well as play an instrumental role in the Reds’ Champions League triumph.
That impressive form saw the Netherlands international claim the PFA Player of the Year award, and Babel believes that Van Dijk could become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the Ballon d’Or award.
“The last time I remember a defender winning the Ballon d’Or, it was Cannavaro in 2006. So it’s not impossible. I think it’s fair to say he would at least be on the shortlist. We will see in the end whether he wins or not. I would be very happy for him,” Babel told Sky Sports.
It is easy to see why Babel is tipping Van Dijk to be a contender to win the Ballon d’Or, after the defender’s impressive form in the last 18-momths since moving to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018. Van Dijk has slotted straight into Jjurgen Klopp’s side and transformed a defence that had been looking vulnerable under the German, into the most solid in the Premier League. The Netherlands international’s impact on Liverpool’s success last season can not be understated, with the defender’s presence helping Liverpool lift the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2005 and this term. The Ballon d’Or is usually dominated by attacking players, with the likes of Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi picking up the majority of the awards in the last decade. However, Van Dijk has been soo impressive that, as Babel rightly points out he could be in contention to become the first defender to win the award since 2006, and he would be a more than worthy recipient were he to claim the honour.