Lionel Messi has utmost respect for Virgil Van Dijk

    Barcelona stalwart Lionel Messi has heaped praise on Liverpool star defender Virgil van Dijk ahead of their upcoming Ballon d’Or battle

    Widely regarded as the leading candidate to claim the most prestigious individual award in football, the Dutch centre-back faces stiff competition from the recently named FIFA’s Best Men’s Player.

    After helping Liverpool lift the Champions League trophy last season, the 28-year-old captained the Netherlands to the Nations League final in the summer, which puts him ahead of Messi in the race for the Ballon d’Or.

    The two famous individuals went head-to-head in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, with Van Dijk helping the Reds pull off an astonishing second-leg comeback to overcome a three-goal deficit from the first leg and book tickets for the final.

    Although the Argentinean forward scored a brace at the Camp Nou, he was left completely powerless at Anfield, with the big Dutchman leading his side to an impressive 4-0 triumph.

    The 32-year-old holds the utmost respect for the Liverpool talisman, as he has recently hailed Van Dijk’s qualities.

    “He is a defender that knows how to judge the timing and wait for the right moment to get in or hold on,’ Messi told Marca, as reported by the Metro.

    “He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.

    “He is fast because of its great stride and is impressive, both in defense and attack because he scores many goals.”

    While Van Dijk and Liverpool continue to impress this season – currently topping the Premier League table, Messi is still trying to reach full fitness after enduring an injury-hit start to the 2019/20 campaign.

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