Virgil Van Dijk. Ballon d’Or/Twitter

Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has congratulated Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi on his record sixth Ballon d’Or award.

The Argentine claimed his sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday night, which puts him ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for most Ballon d’Or ever.

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Messi narrowly beat out Virgil Van Dijk to the top spot. The defender, however, acknowledged the world-class ability Messi has and his stature as the best player of all time.

Van Dijk became the highest-ranked defender in Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro won the award back in 2006.

However, speaking at the ceremony, Van Dijk said he didn’t believe he would be nominated until he ultimately was a couple of weeks ago.

He said: “I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved last year and hopefully we can do that again this year.

“Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him [Messi] that are unnatural…six times the Ballon d’Or you need to respect greatness as well…I was close, but it was just someone who was a little bit better.

“To be absolutely honest, I never thought id be up for Ballon D’Or until I was actually nominated and it says a lot of how my career has been, its never been easy.

“My career is just different than the winner here, I came late but I never gave up my dreams and I had to work hard every step of the way.”

“Where I am right now is something I’m very proud of, and to be here has made me very proud and makes me want to work harder so I can be here next year.”

Van Dijk becomes the first Liverpool player to make the Ballon d’Or top three since Fernando Torres in 2008, and the first Dutchman to make the podium since Dennis Bergkamp in 1993.