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18th Feb 2020

Ruud Gullit on why Virgil van Dijk will never win the Ballon d’Or


Will van Dijk ever get a better chance?

Virgil van Dijk is undeniably the best centre-back in world football at this current moment in time. The Liverpool and Dutch central defender has been a revelation since joining the Reds from Southampton, helping to elevate them to a level all fans have dreamed of, but few would ever have expected.

In the run up to the 2019 Ballon d’Or Awards, van Dijk was hotly tipped to become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro to win the award, but in the end placed second, just seven votes behind the winner Lionel Messi.

So, will 2020 be his year? On the surface, it looks like he has a good chance. His Liverpool team are currently setting the standard for excellence in a domestic season, and they remain on course to reach the latter stages of the Champions League.

But, according to one defender who has won the greatest individual honour in football, the former Celtic man’s time has already passed, at least in terms of winning the Ballon d’Or.

Ruud Gullit, the former coach of Chelsea and Newcastle United and a legend at both Ajax and AC Milan, won the award in 1987, and he told JOE at the Laureus Sport Awards in Berlin that he feels 2019 was the best opportunity his compatriot will ever have to claim the award so many pros covet.