Lionel Messi heaped praise on Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk who could well be his biggest competition for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
The Dutch international is widely regarded as the best defender in the world thanks to his impressive performances with Liverpool. Van Dijk has been a rock at the back while often contributing offensively as well. The 28-year-old’s aerial ability has often fetched him goals.
Messi came up against the Dutchman during last season’s Champions League where Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate. The Argentine heaped praise on van Dijk for his agility and contribution in both defence and attack.
Speaking to Marca, the Barcelona captain said: “He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey [the attacker]. He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height. He is fast because of his great stride, and he is impressive both in defence and attack because he scores lots of goals.”
Van Dijk’s performances for Liverpool last season saw him win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award and has also made him a top contender for the Ballon d’Or.
This season, the 28-year-old has been in fine form for the Reds and will hope to help them win some more silverware by next summer.
After helping Netherlands win their Euro qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Belarus, van Dijk will be eager to put in a strong performance this weekend when Liverpool take on Manchester United.