'Van Dijk would have to be the man' – Barnes backs Liverpool star to win 2019 Ballon d'Or over Messi

The Reds legend feels the Dutchman has eclipsed the Barcelona talisman as the most consistent performer on the biggest stage this season

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi, according to John Barnes.

The Netherlands international capped a superb 2018-19 campaign by helping the Reds to win the Champions League on Saturday night.

Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Tottenham 2-0 in the showpiece at Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and substitute Divock Origi.

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Van Dijk was colossal at the back and managed to keep Spurs captain Harry Kane quiet over the course of the 90 minutes, leading by example while snuffing out any promising opposition attacks.

The Dutchman has been a standout performer for Liverpool throughout the season and now that he has landed his first piece of silverware at Anfield, he is being tipped by many to win the coveted Ballon d’Or award.

Barcelona superstar Messi is the overwhelming favourite to receive the individual gong, after scoring 51 goals in 49 matches across all competitions and spearheading a successful La Liga title defence for Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Anfield legend Barnes, however, believes Van Dijk should be recognised for his achievements ahead of the Argentine, due to his constant brilliance for Liverpool over the last 10 months.  

When asked on talkSPORT if the Reds centre-back could land the Ballon d’Or later in the year, Barnes responded: “Very possibly.

“Normally when you look at the Ballon d’Or winners, they’re either attacking midfield players or centre-forwards. They are goalscorers and eye-catching players.

“But there haven’t been any of those types of players who have really set the world alight this season.

“So from a point of consistency and from a point of success, for me, Van Dijk would have to be the man.”

Van Dijk was named PFA Player of the Year for his exploits during Liverpool’s title charge, which ended in failure by the narrowest of margins as Manchester City retained the Premier League by a single point.

In 2018, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric picked up the Ballon d’Or after a stellar year at both club and international level, while Messi finished way down in fifth.

If Van Dijk can prevent the Barca captain from winning his sixth accolade in November, he will become the first defender to win the award since ex-Italy and Juventus star Fabio Cannavaro was given the nod way back in 2006.