Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk was a clear winner of UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year award on Thursday, triumphing with almost 100 points more than Lionel Messi.
UEFA’s jury for the vote was made up of coaches from all 32 teams in last season’s Champions League and the 48 sides in the Europa League, as well as 55 journalists – one for each of UEFA’s member associations.
Each jury member picked their top three players, with their No.1 picking up five points, No.2 three points and No.3 one point.
As per the UEFA website, when the votes were tallied Van Dijk ended up on a massive 305 points, some 98 ahead of Messi in second on 207.
Cristiano Ronaldo was then way back in third on 74.
“First of all, I think I need to thank all of my teammates,” said Van Dijk when picking up the award.
“Without all of them and without the staff, I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved over the last year especially. I thank my family of course.
“It’s been a long road but that’s part of my journey, it’s part of who I am.
“I needed it like this, I’m not a player who was 18 years old and had that rise straight away.
UEFA Men’s Player of the Year votes
1 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands) – 305 points
2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 207 points
3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus & Portugal) – 74 points
5 Sadio Mané (Liverpool & Senegal) – 51 points
6 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt) – 49 points
7 Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid & Belgium) – 38 points
8= Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus & Netherlands) – 27 points
8= Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona & Netherlands) – 27 points
10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City & England) – 12 points
“I had to work hard for every step of the way – that’s part of me and I’m very happy about that.
“I’m very proud to get this trophy and it’s all credit to everyone that’s helped me along the way.”
Given that the vote was conducted by coaches and journalists and that Van Dijk won by such a margin, it would appear that the Dutchman is set to pick up the Ballon d’Or award at the end of the year too.
That award is voted on by international coaches, captains and also journalists, and if the feeling in football is that Van Dijk is currently this far ahead of his peers, then he can probably expect another award in December.
The centre-back is currently odds-on to triumph.