- Lionel Messi and Van Dijk have emerged as clear frontrunners for this year's Ballon d'Or award
- Messi guided Barcelona to La Liga glory in the 2018/19 season
- Carragher now believes the Argentine is on course to win the prestigious award for the sixth time
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has tipped Lionel Messi to beat Virgil van Dijk to the 2019 Ballon d'Or award.
Both Messi and Van Dijk are expected to go head-to-head for the individual top prize after having an exceptional campaign in the 2018/19 season.
Van Dijk is the bookmakers' favourite to claim the award following Liverpool's triumph in the Champions League.
The Dutchman also played an integral part in the Red's Premier League title race, missing out on the domestic trophy to Man City by just a point.
However, despite his heroics in Liverpool's heart of defense, Carragher thinks Messi will edge the centre-back to the award this year.
Fabio Cannavaro was the last defender to win the award in 2006 after helping Italy lift the World Cup that year, and Carragher contends Van Dijk's failure to win the UEFA League of Nations trophy will hugely affect his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or.
"I saw he’s gone ahead of Messi in the betting. I’d be thinking Messi to be honest – very rarely you see a centre-back get that," Carragher said after Van Dijk’s Netherlands lost to Portugal in the Nations League final.
"I think when you win something big, that’s when you really cement yourself at that level and I think he is the best in the world in that position. He’s proven himself. But, Ballon d’Or, I think Messi," he submitted.
Incidentally, the Liverpool defender has since conceded Messi is favourite to win the award.
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