Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has warned Virgil van Dijk that it will be incredibly tough for the Liverpool man to win the Ballon d'Or, despite calls from many for Van Dijk to win the award.
The Dutchman was named the UEFA Men's Player of the Year off the back of Liverpool's run to Champions League glory, and is one of the leading candidates for the Ballon d'Or this year, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The last defender to win the award was Real Madrid's Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 and, speaking to The Express, Pique insisted that it will be a huge challenge for Van Dijk to add his name to the list of former winners.
He said: "I always said that for me, if you have to vote for the best player of them all, you have to vote for Lionel Messi. For the last ten years he has been by far the best player in the world, but it is fair enough that Van Dijk has done a great season and he should be there fighting for it.
"It is not easy. This game is made for strikers. When they score they are the stars and when they don't score, normally nothing happens.
"For keepers and defenders, it is more difficult. When you do a good job it is difficult for people to recognise you but when you make a mistake you are everywhere. Normally strikers will win it."
Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d'Or in recent years. One of the pair won the award each year between 2008 and 2017, but Real midfielder Luka Modric finally ended their stranglehold on the award last year.
This time around, Van Dijk is expected to be a serious contender, alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe - all of whom will be battling Messi and Ronaldo for the ultimate individual prize.