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"Lionel Messi is the best of his generation – but Virgil van Dijk deserves Ballon d'Or": Jurgen Klopp delivers verdict

Virgil van Dijk

Jurgen Klopp believes Virgil van Dijk should win the Ballon d’Or despite acknowledging that Lionel Messi is the best player of the current generation.

Van Dijk has enjoyed a brilliant 2019, inspiring Liverpool to Champions League glory and a club-record top-flight points tally of 97.

The Netherlands international is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or at next Monday’s ceremony, although he faces stiff competition from Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Van Dijk’s Liverpool team-mates Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum have all been nominated for the prestigious prize.

But Klopp thinks Van Dijk is the leading candidate to scoop the award, which Barcelona forward Messi has already won five times.

“If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That's how it is,” Klopp told Reuters.

"But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don't know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it.

"The best player of all? That's Lionel. Best player of last season? That's Virgil. We will see.”

Liverpool ground out a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday to remain eight points clear of Leicester and nine in advance of Manchester City in the title race.

But Klopp believes there is still everything to play for as the Reds seek their first championship since 1990.

“If we lost the last game we played under Crystal Palace, then we suddenly would have been just five points ahead and people would talk about different things," the German added. 

"The main thing is that we stay relaxed about that. We don't think about the points, we don't think about the gap, we think about the next game. Hopefully we can stay that way.”

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