Jaap Stam says Lionel Messi deserved Ballon d’Or despite Virgil Van Dijk’s claims

One would think that Dutch central defenders would stick together, but former Manchester United man Jaap Stam has backed up the decision to give Lionel Messi the 2019 Ballon d’Or ahead of Virgil Van Dijk.

Nobody is doubting Messi was brilliant in 2019 – as he has been every year of his career – but there was a strong case for Liverpool defender Van Dijk after they had a sensation run in the Premier League and lifted the Champions League in May – beating Barcelona along the way.

Goal.com have the quotes from Stam, who admits that his countryman had been brilliant, but still insisted that Messi was better:

“Normally a defender is underestimated and people don’t think a lot about them. I think nowadays it is becoming better and people appreciate the job of defending a lot more,” the powerful former Lazio man mused.

“Looking at the world now, I think Messi is still the best player. If you look at the Ballon d’Or and winning the trophy, I think the right decision was to give it to Messi.

“I would have liked to give it to Virgil because I think he’s done great. It’s not that I don’t want him to win it, but I think Messi and what he is doing year in, year out, scoring goals and creating goals with the pressure he’s under, I think he deserves it.”

It’s an interesting stance, and it’s funny to hear a defender go with an attacker, when usually the accusation is that defenders are vastly underappreciated in these kinds of awards.

Van Dijk can still feel hard done by however, and will be looking to come close once again should the Reds lift the Premier League title in 2020.

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