3 F****** Good Reasons To Believe VIRGIL VAN DIJK Will Win The Ballon d'Or This Year
First of all, let's be clear: By far, Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool fans favourite centre-back) has been the key reason behind Liverpool's fantastic run in both the Premier League (2nd place... Not bad!) and the UEFA Champions League (We won? HELL YEAH, MOTHER F*****!); it's an understatement. Ever since his "wonderful" £75 million move from Southampton to Merseyside in January of 2018, the Dutch centre-back has been the key figure in Jürgen Klopp's new team. So, it's not surprising to see the Red fans clamouring for their most valuable asset to be awarded this season's Ballon d'Or award (Me included), especially after how well he has done this season. Seriously... THE GUY WAS A COMPLETE MONSTER!
At the international level, the Dutchman has also been phenomenal, captaining a resurgent Dutch national team to the UEFA Nations League final. Furthermore, the English PFA's (Professional Footballers' Association) Player of the Year award showed how much respect Van Dijk has gathered from his peers after his impressive performances this season. It's not strange to see Jürgen talking about VVD's greatness any chance he gets and rightly so.
Here are three reasons why the Wall should win the Ballon D'or this year.
3. Best Player In The Premier League This Season
Virgil has played every game in the Premier League for Liverpool this season, forming the best defence in the league (Very strange if you have Lovren and Matip as a centre-back pair). Besides the league leaders, Manchester City (Always them, always... THEM!!), the Reds have maintained the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 22 goals in 37 games. Not bad, right? Well... THAT'S NOT ALL!
Liverpool also have the record for the most clean sheets (20), in the league this season, ahead of Manchester City's tally of 19. True fact is that Alisson has been a total saviour for Liverpool's net, but Van Dijk has also relished the challenge of facing top-draw strikers, with his dominating performances against the likes of Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette (Not even gonna mention Gonzalo), earning him the praise of fans and rivals alike.
The 27-year-old Dutchman has won four MOTM (Man On The Move?) Awards and has also scored 4 goals and provided 2 assists on his way to being selected the PFA Player of the Year. Incredibly, he was the only defender in Europe's top 5 leagues to have not been dribbled past, not even on one occasion, this season! Even Messi was scared to go past him!
Averaging 1 tackle, 1.1 interceptions, 5.4 clearances and 0.5 blocks per Premier League game, and with an incredible 4.8 aerials won per game, Van Dijk continues to surprise everywhere he plays. Despite the fact that Manchester City won the Premier League in the end (1 POINT! GOD DAMN IT!!), Van Dijk's exploits in the league this season should be enough to see him lift the Ballon d'Or since Messi's Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League; even in the Spanish Cup against Valencia.
2. The Almighty Captain of A Rejuvenated Netherlands (Better Than Argentina In The Copa America)
Now... After embarrassingly failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, The Netherlands have undergone a major overhaul under new manager, Ronald Koeman. The former Everton boss completely re-built the "Oranje", appointing Van Dijk as captain, and the new-look Netherlands team went on to post impressive results. The fact that they topped a UEFA Nations League group, which included France and Germany, is testament to their quality.
The youthful side which also includes Liverpool's Georgino Wijnaldum, Barcelona and Juventus starlets Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt and Lyon talisman Memphis Depay had a bad start to the UEFA Nations League with a narrow 2-1 loss to world champions France. However, they overturned their fortunes quickly, defeating Germany 3-0 at home, with Van Dijk dominating the likes of Timo Werner and Thomas Muller. In the return fixture against France, The Netherlands were dominant again, winning 2-0, with Van Dijk nullifying Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann.
The dream continued, as they beat England in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, but, later on, they couldn't do anything to stop Guedes from scoring the only goal of the final against Portugal (0-1). Yet, Van Dijk has been in great form, and he's clearly the key that has made the Dutch national side return to its former glory.
1. Outstanding Champions League Performances (Erm... Liverpool completely trashing Barcelona in an epic comeback? Who doesn't remember that?) & Champion With The Reds
Finally, despite conceding 3 goals to Barcelona in their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at the Nou Camp, Van Dijk and company refused to lose heart and came roaring back in the return leg at Anfield on a great Tuesday night, trouncing the Spanish champions 4-0 (Oh! That goal from Origi!). Van Dijk was a titan in defence again, nullifying the threats of Messi and Suárez... Messi, who?
Having played every minute of Liverpool's XI Champions League games this season, the Dutch defender pitched in with 2 goals and 2 assists as well. Incredibly, Van Dijk wasn't dribbled past, not even on one occasion, in the Champions League as well this season! THAT'S CRAZY! He averaged 1 tackle, 0.9 interceptions, 4.8 clearances and 0.5 blocks per game in Europe's top tier club competition, also posting 3.5 aerials won per Champions League game. He was a key piece in the elimination of Bayern in the Round of 16, not having problem to stop the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and co.
So, if the guy is stopping everyone in the planet, I think it's about time to give a defender the Ballon d'Or, isn’t it? The last time a defender won this award, memes weren't a thing, Messi was more tiny than he is now, Tony Stark was still alive... This website didn't even exist! (Long time, you see?)
The last defender to win the Ballon d'Or was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 after a superb performance at the World Cup, taking the World Cup trophy back to Italy. Cannavaro was the standout performer for his team in the World Cup and the same could be said for Virgil Van Dijk when it comes to Liverpool. If Sadio Mane or Mo Salah had scored close to 50 goals individually, then the scenario could be completely different. But... It's not!
So, this is clearly the best year for a defender to win the coveted individual honor. Will he win and break the strikers' curse? Or will the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, the favourites get the golden ball trophy once again, and a new one for their cabinets? Only money, influence, and time will tell.