Virgil van Dijk couldn’t resist a light-hearted dig at Cristiano Ronaldo at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony on Monday evening.
Ronaldo, who has won the award five times in his career, did not attend the gala at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris, which suggests the 34-year-old could miss out this time.
Lionel Messi is now odds-on favourite to win the award for the sixth time in his career, while Van Dijk is also in contention after playing a key role in Liverpool’s Champions League win and Premier League title challenge.
After turning up at the ceremony, Van Dijk gave a quick interview with RTL7, who pointed out that Ronaldo was not in attendance.
‘Cristiano won’t be here, so that’s already one one rival less,’ said the interviewer.
But Van Dijk replied with a smile: ‘Was he a rival then?’
Speaking before the ceremony, Van Dijk admitted he was proud to be nominated for the award – even if he is likely to lose out to Messi.
‘I am going to have a look at what it is about. I am going to be there for a reason and there are no losers on the evening,’ said the Liverpool defender.
‘I am very proud to be in that bracket, to be in there for the way I performed with the team last year and also with the country.
‘It is just something to be proud of because not a lot of players go there and are up for these kind of things.
‘There’s going to be a winner but there are no losers. We will see what happens.’
Van Dijk was one of seven Liverpool players on the shortlist alongside Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
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