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Ashley Cole explains why Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is still behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Ashley Cole has explained why he thinks Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk did not manage to beat Lionel Messi to this year’s Ballon d’Or award.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea defender simply believes that Messi, and also five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, remain on another level from everyone else in football for the quality they produce week in, week out.

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Cole himself was one of the finest defenders in the world at his peak, and admits he’d have liked to see a defensive player earn this individual recognition for a change.

However, he is also quoted as telling Omnisport, as per the Daily Mirror, that Van Dijk remains some way off the level of both Messi and Ronaldo.

He said: “It’s tough. You want different positions maybe being credited with how good they’ve played in that season, but to be honest I don’t think you can look outside of Messi and Ronaldo.

“What Messi does week in, week out is not normal. Again, the same with Ronaldo.

“It wasn’t a surprise that Messi won it but one day, yeah, we probably would like a defender to win it.”

Liverpool fans won’t be too happy with this assessment, though it is perhaps hard to argue that Messi and Ronaldo are truly something special.

The pair are unlike anything we’ve ever really seen in the game, and although Van Dijk had a hugely influential 2019, Messi surely deserves his Ballon d’Or win on talent alone, while his performance levels remain sensational, even if they have begun to feel normal by his high standards.

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