ENGLAND – Former Liverpool midfielder, Danny Murphy, has tipped defender, Virgil van Dijk to win this year’s Ballon D’ Or ahead of Barcelona captain, Lionel Messi and Juventus superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo.
According to Murphy, the Netherland’s centre-back deserves the top prize after leading Liverpool to victory in the UEFA Champions League title last season.
Recall that Van Dijk is among the 30-man shortlist for this year’s Europe top individual prize alongside Messi and Ronaldo. The List here
“For me, the winner [2019 Ballon D’ Or] is obvious: Virgil van Dijk,” Murphy told talkSPORT.
“I believe that because of the massive impact he’s had on Liverpool Football Club.
“There are so many facets to him: his leadership qualities have grown, and his influence on others is probably the biggest reason.
“His impact on the performances of the players around him, especially the back four, is phenomenal.
“When you think of the full-backs, they’ve improved tremendously and that’s partly because of the security he gives them to go forward, knowing he’s so capable when other teams counter-attack.”
Murphy added: “Obviously, you’re dealing with the best players in the world and when you look at Lionel Messi’s goalscoring record, if he did win it over Van Dijk, you would have to understand why.
“But his form didn’t help Barcelona win the Champions League. Usually the winner of the Ballon d’Or comes from the winner of the Champions League. The criteria is there and I don’t see why that should change.
“In terms of a defender winning it, there are some people who would say it’s easier to destroy than create and I understand that philosophy. But when you look at the impact on others and the way he gets others to perform around him, that’s a wonderful quality.”