Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is “honoured” to be considered a candidate for the Ballon d’Or, and believes the voters will make the right decision.
However, he insists he is only focused on improving and serving as an example for younger players at the club.
Formerly the most expensive defender in the world prior to Harry Maguire’s £80 million ($97m) move to Manchester United, Van Dijk proved worth every bit of his hefty fee last season.
Van Dijk helped lead a Liverpool defence which conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League, en route to a club-best 97 points finish, as well as their first Champions League crown since 2005.
The Netherlands captain also helped see the Oranje to the Nations League final, though they fell at the last hurdle to Portugal.
Van Dijk’s outstanding 2019 has seen him mentioned as a possible Ballon d’Or candidate – something no defender has managed since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
According to Goal, Van Dijk, however, insists while it is privilege to be mentioned among the candidates, he does not have a say in the results and is only focused on improving his game.
“Obviously, I’m honoured to be mentioned as a candidate to win the Ballon d’Or, but the only way I can influence it is to just focus on playing well,” Van Dijk told reporters.
“I don’t have a vote, but I am sure that the guys who do will come up with the right decision when the time is right. If I am picked, then I will be very honoured. But, if I’m not picked, then it won’t be the end of the world.
“Everyone has their opinion, but I feel good, I feel fit and I can keep improving.”
Van Dijk started the new season well, scoring a goal in Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Norwich City on Friday.
But the centre-back says he is not satisfied, aiming to improve on his performances as an example for the young players who are looking to come through the Liverpool academy and progress into the first team.
“There is still plenty to improve,” Van Dijk said. “The only thing I want to do is keep working and keep giving everything I can in every game.
“In training, as well, I want to be an example for all the players that are coming through the ranks at Melwood.
“But I must keep getting better. Everyone can get better. That’s how I feel and that’s what I want to do.”