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'Faultless' Van Dijk deserves to win Ballon d'Or ahead of Messi - Gerrard

11:07 PM GMT 28/11/2019
Virgil van Dijk Lionel Messi Liverpool
The Liverpool defender should win the highly coveted individual award for 2019, says the Argentine's "number one fan"

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard says Virgil van Dijk "100 per cent" deserves to claim the Ballon d'Or for his "faultless" performances en route to winning the Champions League.

Van Dijk is in the running for football's top individual prize this year, going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The former enjoyed a stellar 2018-19 season with the Reds, helping them lift a sixth European Cup while also finishing a close second to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Messi, meanwhile, played a key role in Barca's successful La Liga defence, but a shocking Champions League semi-final defeat to Liverpool combined with a Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia overshadowed his individual contribution.

Gerrard, who is now in charge of Scottish giants Rangers, has admitted to being "Messi's number one fan", but is in no doubt that Van Dijk should pick up the Ballon d'Or next month.

Speaking after Rangers' Europa League draw with Feyenoord, Gerrard responded when asked by a Dutch reporter if the Liverpool defender should win: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"I'm Messi's number one fan, for sure. I love the player. Obscene numbers in his game in terms of assists and goals. I'm definitely a Messi fan, in the gang.

"But if you talk about consistency from one player over a year, who wins the European Cup and is absolutely faultless in every performance, that means you deserve to win the Ballon d'Or."

Van Dijk finished second behind Messi in FIFA's The Best awards in September but beat the Argentine to the UEFA Men's Player of the Year accolade back in August.

Messi is the favourite to win a sixth Ballon d'Or ahead of Van Dijk, but the two men will also face competition from the likes of Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the final voting.

Van Dijk will be back in Premier League action on Saturday afternoon, with Liverpool set to welcome Brighton to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's men can take their unbeaten record to 31 matches and extend their eight-point lead at the summit with a win over the Seagulls, before turning their attention to a Merseyside derby clash with Everton four days later.

Messi, meanwhile, is currently preparing with the rest of the Barcelona squad for a crucial trip to Wanda Metropolitano to face Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday night.