Jurgen Klopp feels Virgil van Dijk would have been a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or but understands why Lionel Messi was rewarded for a record sixth time.
The Dutch international was in stellar form last season as Liverpool added to their European legacy by winning another Champions League crown. Many thought the towering central defender deserved the award for his performances but he could only finish second behind Messi.
Liverpool stole the show on the night, however, with four players named in the top ten including Sadio Mane (fourth), Mohamed Salah (fifth) and Alisson Becker (seventh).
Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum were also among the top 26 footballers named.
According to the club’s official website, Klopp sees the Ballon d’Or voting ‘slightly differently’.
“The decision, in this case, is made by journalists, right? So, that’s how people see it and it’s absolutely no problem. I see it slightly differently, I think it’s normal that a lot of people see it slightly differently.
“Lionel Messi, I have said probably 500,000 times in my life already, is probably the best player I saw during my lifetime, that’s how it is. I saw very early in my life Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, I saw Diego Maradona and then I see Lionel Messi more often.
“I have no clue how the others would have played nowadays – probably as well pretty exceptional, but Lionel is here now and he rightly so won it six times and Cristiano (Ronaldo) five times.
Klopp continued by describing van Djik’s season as one of the best ever by a defender.
“But the last season, if you really go for only that season, then I cannot remember a more impressive season of a defender ever, honestly. So it would’ve been right as well if Virg would have won it, now I heard it was pretty close. What Virg said afterwards is absolutely how he is as a person, fantastic.
“And the group of players, we won the Champions League, we played an outstanding season, we got 97 points. It’s normal that people see that. I’m really happy for them. I think No.17 or so was Trent? Who would have thought that three years ago?
“So it’s nice, but it’s last season. I think now pretty much all the awards are done and the boys can go for new awards if they want.”