Is Virgil van Dijk now the favourite for this year’s Ballon d’Or?

There are times when Virgil van Dijk seems omnipotent. Bigger, stronger, faster, calmer and better on the ball, he is the defender who has gone 64 Liverpool games without anyone dribbling past him. And yet, while opposing attackers have failed to expose a shortcoming, there is one.

He would be terrible at job interviews. His technique is unorthodox: don’t pick me, because the other guy is better. Take his answer on Saturday. “I think [Lionel] Messi is the best player in the world,” the Dutchman said. “He should win the Ballon d’Or.”

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Richard Jolly

Richard Jolly also writes for the National, the Guardian, the Observer, the Straits Times, the Independent, Sporting Life, Football 365 and the Blizzard. He has written for the FourFourTwo website since 2018 and for the magazine in the 1990s and the 2020s, but not in between. He has covered 1500+ games and remembers a disturbing number of the 0-0 draws.