Paul Merson has claimed that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk not winning the Ballon d’Or this year is an absolute joke.
The Sky Sports pundit believes that the Premier League is the hardest competition in the world, and the Dutchman has taken it to another level in the past year, as well as winning the Champions League.
Merson admitted that the eventual winner, Lionel Messi didn’t take it too another level, but just did what is expected of him – going onto slam the Argentine for not turning up in big games such as the 4-0 defeat at Anfield.
“Virgil van Dijk not winning the Balon d’Or is a joke,” he wrote in his Mirror column.
“He should have won it.
“This is the hardest league in the world and Van Dijk has taken Liverpool to an absolute other level. They won the Champions League and look like winning the league.
“What has Messi done? He scores bucketloads of goals in Spain. Again. But he does that every year. He didn’t take it to another level.”
There are no doubting Messi’s talents as a goalscorer, obviously, but Merson is spot on to claim that we expect that from him every single season. Van Dijk, on the other hand, was immense in the heart of the defence and played a vital role in almost every game the Reds won. The Argentine international did go missing in the Champions League semi-final, as well as the Copa America, so if he wasn’t consistent in those alongside the La Liga, there are question marks over why van Dijk wasn’t given the nod. The 28-year-old was not dribbled past once in the entire season last year [WhoScored] – a stat which is incomparable to a forward, and something that is rarely ever done, so for van Dijk to only finish second there is something wrong. Should Liverpool have won the Premier League alongside the Champions League it might have been a totally different story, but that is not the point, and van Dijk should have been rewarded for his efforts.