Ruud Gullit claims Virgil van Dijk is never going to win the Ballon d’Or and expects great defenders to continue to be overlooked in the future.
A stunning 12 months for a Netherlands international center-half pushed him into contention for the most prestigious of individual prizes, and despite beating Lionel Messi in the UEFA Player of the Year award, was edged out by the Barcelona talisman when it came to the FIFA Best gong and the Ballon d’Or.
And Gullit believes the 28-year-old will never get a better chance to sit on top of the world, with players in his position set to remain on the fringes for the top awards.
“The message of the Ballon d’Or was, he’s never going to win it again,” Gullit told JOE of his fellow countryman.
“But, you know, you can’t say Messi didn’t deserve it either. But if there was a possibility to make a stand for a defender, it was this year.”
Gullit is not surprised to have seen Van Dijk snubbed, as defenders have struggled to earn recognition for years.
Fabio Cannavaro bucked that trend after captaining Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, but many others have been overlooked.
“[Arrigo] Sacchi already said that Van Dijk couldn’t win it because, otherwise, [Franco] Baresi should have won it already,” Gullit added on a legendary figure he once played alongside at San Siro.
“If Baresi didn’t win it, why should he win it? That’s what he said. He didn’t say he didn’t deserve it, but he said they’re never going to give it to a defender. That’s what he said, and that’s a pity.
“That’s why I say, it almost looks like they say ‘Look, you’re never going to be a contender anymore for the Ballon d’Or’.”