Jamie Carragher says Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-back in the world – but Lionel Messi remains his prediction for the Ballon d’Or.
Van Dijk is among the favourites for the award and become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the coveted prize after a stellar year at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
But his Holland side were beaten by Portugal in the Nations League final on Sunday and Carragher reckons his peers’ previous success at international level could be held against the Reds star.
“I saw he’s gone ahead of Messi in the betting,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I’d be thinking Messi to be honest – very rarely you see a centre-back get that.
“I think that Cannavaro got it on the back of winning the World Cup in 2006. I don’t think his game has changed too much over the season.
“He’s obviously had a great season but I think you’ve got to win big things and I think that Champions League has put that stamp on him being one of the world’s best.”
“When we spoke earlier this season we always spoke about [Gerard] Pique and [Sergio] Ramos not necessarily that they were performing better than Van Dijk – but they have the medals for club and country,” he continued.
“That’s why he’ll be disappointed today [following the Nations League final]. Obviously it’s not a World Cup or a Euros but it’s just that nice little trophy for his country.
“But I think when you win something big, that’s when you really cement yourself at that level and I think he is the best in the world in that position. He’s proven himself.
“But, Ballon d’Or, I think Messi.”