Liverpool legend Ray Clemence has joined the growing calls for Reds defender Virgil van Dijk to win the Ballon d’Or award.
Netherlands international Van Dijk moved to Anfield from Southampton in January 2018 and eyebrows were raised when the Merseysiders forked out £75m on the centre-half. However, the 27-year-old has already more than paid for his transfer fee, galvanising what was a shaky Liverpool defence to challenge for the Premier League title and win the Champions League.
The former Celtic man has also been a rock for the Dutch national team, and helped revive the fortunes of the Oranje. The Ballon d’Or has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since 2008 although Real Madrid’s Luka Modric broke their stranglehold by claiming the prestigious award in 2018.
The big two will once again be prominent in the voting for next season’s trophy but Clemence believes that Van Dijk should be there or thereabouts after what he has achieved with the Reds.
“Who had the biggest influence for Liverpool over the full year? I would say it was Van Dijk,” the 70-year-old told Goal.
“There’s an obsession with attacking and creative players winning it. “It is more difficult to create and score goals but when you have an influence over a side like Van Dijk had last season, it wasn’t just what he did, it was what he gave. I think he should be a very strong contender for it.”
Liverpool were pipped to the Premier League title by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City but, with Van Dijk marshalling the rearguard, they will likely challenge once again next term and can be backed at 3.20 to lift the trophy.