Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk

Paris [France], Dec 3 : After missing out on the Ballon d’Or, defender Virgil van Dijk paid his respect to Argentine striker Lionel Messi and said one needs to respect his greatness as he has won the award for six times.

He also said that he is proud of what he achieved with his club Liverpool and country Netherlands.

Messi pipped van Dijk on Monday (local time) to win his sixth Ballon d’Or.

“It was amazing. Unfortunately, there are a couple of players like him that are a bit unnatural, I think. They are fantastic. Six-time Ballon d’Or winner, you need to respect greatness as well. I was close but there was just someone a little bit better,” quoted van Dijk as saying.

“I am very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool, Holland and hopefully we can do that again this year. It’s going to be tough as long as these guys are around still,” he added.

If van Dijk would have won the Ballon d’Or, then he would have become the first defender to win the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

Messi has now gone past Ronaldo to win the most number of Ballon d’Or awards. The Portugal star has won it five times while Messi scripted his sixth win.

Ronaldo was absent from the award ceremony and he finished at the third spot in the rankings list for Ballon d’Or. It was the first time since 2011 that Ronaldo failed to feature in the Ballon d’Or top two.

When asked whether Ronaldo was the competition or not, van Dijk poked fun at the Portugal star’s absence from the ceremony and said: “Why, was he a candidate to win”.

In the rankings for the award, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane finished fourth while his team-mate Mohamed Salah was placed at the fifth spot.


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