Jurgen Klopp says Lionel Messi 'best player of this generation' but Virgil van Dijk deserves Ballon d'Or

Liverpool manager says his defender was the best performer of the previous season

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Manager of Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has labelled Barcelona star Lionel Messi the best player of this generation but added that defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win the Ballon d'Or this year.

Van Dijk is the favourite to win the top prize in December after being named Uefa's best player. However, Messi is in contention for a sixth Ballon d'Or; he did beat Van Dijk for Fifa's ‘The Best’ award in September.

Klopp said if the award was for the best player in contemporary football, Messi deserves it. But since it is for the best player of the previous season, Van Dijk should land the accolade.

Messi last won the award in 2015 and would overtake Cristiano Ronaldo if he wins his sixth. If Van Dijk wins, he would be the first defender to do so since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

"If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That's how it is," Klopp was quoted as saying by goal.com.

“But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don’t know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it. The best player of all? That’s Lionel. Best player of last season? That’s Virgil.”