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Carles Puyol’s verdict on Virgil van Dijk beating Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo to award | Football | Sport

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk deserved his recognition as the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award winner, according to Barcelona legend Carles Puyol.

Van Dijk beat out stiff competition in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award at the start of the season.

The Dutchman signed for Liverpool in January 2018 for £75million and has since turned the club’s defensive fortunes around.

Last season, the Reds won the Champions League and came within a point of Premier League glory.

This term, Van Dijk’s imperious form has continued as Liverpool once again try their hand at winning a first ever Premier League title.

Van Dijk’s monumental efforts were rewarded with the UEFA gong, which Puyol believes he was completely deserving of, despite the form of Messi and Ronaldo this year.

“Van Dijk is one of the best in the world. He is the complete defender, always calm, a great player,” he told the Independent.  

“The spotlight usually goes to the strikers, so it is nice to see a defender get deserved recognition.

“It’s true that in recent years Messi for me is the best, and it’s difficult to compare to him because to me he’s the best player in history.

“We’ve also had Cristiano who’s a great player.

“And the two have always been there, and few players have had the opportunity to win an individual trophy.

“Having these two players in this era, he’s doing an excellent job and I’m very happy for him.”

Van Dijk’s Liverpool sit top of the Premier League after eight games this season with a maximum points tally of 24.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are preparing to take on fearsome rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford this afternoon.

Messi’s Barcelona regained top spot in La Liga on Saturday with a win over Eibar as Real Madrid slumped to defeat against Mallorca. 

Ronaldo’s Juventus are also flying high at the top of Serie A, with Inter Milan one point behind in second place. 

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