Van Dijk’s Knee Does Not Look Like It Should: Klopp


Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil van Dijk’s knee does not look like a knee should look after surgery, the Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said.

The Reds defender ruptured his knee ligaments in the Merseyside derby in October following a nasty challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and has since undergone successful surgery.

During a  pre-match press conference ahead of their Champions League fixture against Ajax, Klopp said that the defender was in good condition though his knee wasn’t in great shape.

“Considering the circumstances he is doing well but the knee doesn’t look good,” to be honest, the reds boss said regrettably.

Van Dijk who has been an instrumental part of the premier league winning side has notched 14 goals in 162 matches, while his defensive partnership pairing with Gomez and Matip successively kept 61 clean sheets

He also had this to say concerning the defender’s knee “it doesn’t look good, to be honest. It doesn’t look like a knee should look, but it looks good for a knee with that surgery and the time he had since the surgery”

“So, yes, of course, we are in contact and he’s doing well, that’s true.” when asked if he and the defender were in contact

Klopp also provided an update on Thiago Alcantara’s injury, saying the Spanish midfielder remains a few weeks away from full fitness. Thiago picked up an injury against Everton, following a tackle from Richarlison.

“Thiago, we have to maybe clarify it a little bit,” he affirmed.

”After the scans, it was like one was really bad news, and the other one was really good news because nothing was broken, nothing was ruptured and stuff like this, he further added.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who suffered a calf injury during the Manchester City match has resumed on-pitch rehabilitation according to the manager

“Trent looks quite good,” Klopp also said.

“I saw him on the pitch doing his rehab stuff so that already looks good but I cannot decide when it will be finished. From what I saw today, it won’t be much longer,” he concluded.

Liverpool next face Ajax in their champions league tie on Tuesday with Naby Keita, James Milner, Joe Gomez, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a long-term absentee with a knee injury.

FIFA Awards 2020: Lewandowski Joins Messi, Ronaldo On Ten Man Shortlist

 

European player of the year Robert Lewandowski is one of 10 players on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award unveiled Wednesday, alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe.

Besides Polish striker Lewandowski, one other winner of the Champions League with Bayern Munich made the list, Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who joined Liverpool in September.

The English champions also count Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Dutchman Virgil van Dijk on the shortlist.

Paris Saint-Germain, beaten Champions League finalists, are represented by Mbappe and Neymar.

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos complete the list.

Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, who led Leeds into the English Premier League, headlines a list for the men’s coach award, which also features Bayern’s Hans-Dieter Flick, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.

 

READ ALSO: Ibrahimovic Hints At Possible Sweden National Team Return

 

Three finalists from categories also including men and women’s goalkeepers, and women’s players and coaches will be announced on December 11, with the award handed out on December 17.

Shortlists for Best FIFA awards

Men: Thiago Alcantara (ESP/Bayern Munchen/Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus), Kevin De Bruyne (BEL/Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich), Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool), Kylian Mbappe (FRA/Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona), Neymar (BRA/Paris Saint-Germain), Sergio Ramos (ESP/Real Madrid), Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)

Women: Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon/Manchester City), Delphine Cascarino (FRA/Lyon), Caroline Graham Hansen (NOR/Barcelona), Pernille Harder (DEN/Wolfsburg/Chelsea), Jennifer Hermoso (ESP/Barcelona), Ji So-yun (KOR/Chelsea), Sam Kerr (AUS/Chelsea), Saki Kumagai (JPN/Lyon), Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER/Lyon), Vivianne Miedema (NED/Arsenal), Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon)

-AFP

Liverpool’s Van Dijk Knee Surgery A Success

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil van Dijk has undergone successful knee surgery and will begin rehabilitation, Premier League champions Liverpool said on Friday.

The club would not say how long the 29-year-old central defender would be out.

Van Dijk, who was pivotal in both Liverpool’s Champions League success in 2019 and their title triumph last season, suffered cruciate ligament damage after a tackle from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford earlier this month.

“Virgil van Dijk has undergone surgery on the knee ligament injury he sustained earlier this month,” read a club statement.

“The Liverpool defender’s planned operation took place in London and was conducted successfully.

“Van Dijk will now immediately focus on the beginning of his rehabilitation with the support of the Reds’ medical department.

“No timeframe has been placed on the Dutchman’s return to action.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told his press conference on the eve of their Premier League home game with West Ham that Van Dijk was doing okay.

“This time (after a operation) is always unpleasant,” said Klopp.

“You don’t just wake up and everything is fine, you still feel the surgery. But he’s as good as can be.

“It’s clear to say he is a quick healer. That’s all clear, all these things help.”

The 53-year-old German said it was time to move on even though Liverpool have spoken to referee chief Mike Riley about why VAR was not referred to.

Pickford’s challenge has been labelled as “stupid” by Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum but Klopp drew a line under it.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I would immediately if it would change anything but it doesn’t,” he said.

“I’m not sure the world is in a place right now where we have to keep this story going.

“Yes we still feel something about it, but nothing that will happen will change that. So I’ve nothing else to say.”

The Dutch international’s absence adds to Liverpool’s problems in central defence.

Joel Matip has missed the last three games injured and makeshift centreback Fabinho limped off in the first half of Tuesday’s Champions League match against Midtjylland with what is believed to be hamstring injury.

“Fab (Fabinho) is not in, he has a little injury,” said Klopp.

“He’s out for the weekend and slightly longer but all the others are in contention.”

Klopp said that  rather than letting the increasing number of injured players get to him he embraces the problem.

“Do I see the challenge in the situation? Yes,” said Klopp.

“Do I see it as an opportunity? Yes.

“But still we play games every three days and this will stay a challenge.

“I am fine, we are fine. We will deal with the situation and make the best of it. That’s the plan.”

No Need For Liverpool Panic After Wembley Loss, Says Van Dijk

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool “shouldn’t panic” after their Community Shield loss, especially after they bounced back from defeat in last year’s season curtain-raiser to romp to the Premier League title.

Arsenal emerged victorious at an empty Wembley on Saturday, winning 5-4 on penalties after Jurgen Klopp’s men had come from behind to draw 1-1 in normal time.

“During the whole game we played well, dominated, pressed them well and created many chances,” the Dutch defender told Liverpool’s website.

“Obviously in the end penalties is just a lottery and anything can happen.

“We are disappointed but we have to move on. Last year we lost on penalties as well (against Manchester City) and we won the league so we shouldn’t panic, but obviously we wanted to win today.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winning penalty at the end of a match that started with the Arsenal skipper scoring a superb early opener.

January acquisition Takumi Minamino came off the bench to level, with his first Liverpool goal capping a promising display by the Japan international.

Liverpool kick off their Premier League title defence at home to Championship winners Leeds on September 12, when Arsenal travel to promoted Fulham in the early kick-off.

Mikel Arteta’s men go into the campaign buoyed by August’s FA Cup and Community Shield wins, with Kieran Tierney excited by the way things are going.

“The spirit is one of the main things in the changing room, belief and spirit, and we’ve got that, we’re building on it,” he said.

“We’re just looking to continue and keep building this way.

“I think that comes from the manager and the staff. It’s continued from what we’ve done last season and building on it. ”

He said the fans and the club deserved Champions League football.

“They deserve to be top four and we want to do as well as we can, as best as we can and put up a fight in every single game we come up against this year,” Tierney added.

AFP

Van Dijk Praises Liverpool’s Mental Strength

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool’s ability to stay calm under pressure is the key to their astonishing Premier League title charge after they came from behind to beat West Ham 3-2.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are 22 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City and need just four more wins to guarantee to win their first top-flight title for 30 years.

Despite the huge points gap, Liverpool have had to overcome some threats to their season-long unbeaten record in recent weeks.

They were 2-1 down to the Hammers on Monday with 22 minutes to go while they beat Norwich with a solitary 78th-minute goal earlier this month.

Defender Van Dijk praised the mental strength of his teammates, who have won 26 and drawn just one of their 27 Premier League matches.

“Not being nervous, that is the main thing,” he said. “Keep going and keep playing and keep pressing. There will be moments when the opponent is going to have problems if we keep doing the same thing.

“They (West Ham) were a little bit better in the second half than the beginning, they played quite well but I think not being nervous is the main thing.”

West Ham’s opening goal by Issa Diop was the first conceded at Anfield in 11 hours and 27 minutes.

“We all want the clean sheet, we all want eight goals, that is what every footballer wants but in reality sometimes you have difficult nights,” said the Dutch international.

“We had a difficult night but we kept our cool.”

Since returning from their mid-season break, Klopp’s side appear to have lacked some of their previous fluency, labouring to beat Norwich and West Ham and losing to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Spain.

But Van Dijk said the time off had not dulled their fire.

“I think we should take advantage of the break we had,” he added. “Everyone had their time off, we all enjoyed it and we are all ready for the second part of the season.”

AFP

Liverpool Hopeful On Van Dijk Fitness For Club World Cup Final

 

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Porto and Liverpool at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on April 17, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Virgil van Dijk will be fit to play in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Flamengo after the Dutchman missed their semi-final.

“Virgil was part of training today so we will see how it looks at the end,” Klopp said at a press conference at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, where Saturday’s game will be played.

Van Dijk had played in every match this season for the Anfield club, with the exception of the League Cup, before sitting out Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Mexican side Monterrey.

With Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren also absent, Jordan Henderson dropped into central defence to partner Joe Gomez in that game.

Fabinho is also missing for the Premier League leaders, while Georginio Wijnaldum — who travelled to Qatar despite picking up an injury in last weekend’s win over Watford — again sat out training.

“We have no new injury concerns,” Klopp added. “We played on Wednesday and now it’s Friday so we are using each hour for recovery and then we will see who we can line up tomorrow.”

AFP

Van Dijk Deserves Ballon d’Or, Says Klopp

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk and his wife Rike Nooitgedagt (L) arrive to attend the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on December 2, 2019.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Virgil van Dijk would have been a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or but understands why Lionel Messi lifted it for a sixth time.

The Dutch captain came second to the Argentina forward despite playing a huge role as Liverpool won the Champions League last season, overcoming Messi’s Barcelona in the semi-final.

“I see it slightly different and a lot of people see it slightly different but that’s absolutely no problem,” said Klopp.

“Lionel Messi, I’ve said probably 500,000 times in my life already, is probably the best player I saw in my lifetime.

“But I cannot remember a more impressive season from a defender ever. Honestly. So it would have been right if Virg won it. I heard it was pretty close.”

On Wednesday, runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool host Everton in the 234th Merseyside derby, with the relegation-threatened Toffees looking to break a winless streak on the ground dating back to 1999.

Marco Silva’s position is under huge threat but while Klopp had sympathy for his counterpart he said he did not feel sorry for the Portuguese.

“Of course I have sympathy because I know how difficult the life of a manager can be,” he told his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“But the last thing Marco needs now is that I feel sorry for him — I don’t. But I am really on his side because I know about the job.”

Van Dijk’s Brace Help 10-Man Liverpool Beat Brighton

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on January 1, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

A first-half brace from Virgil van Dijk lifted Liverpool 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League in a 2-1 win over Brighton that was filled with drama after the sending off of home goalkeeper Alisson.

The Brazilian was dismissed on 76 minutes as he raced out of his area to handle an attempted chip by Brighton substitute Leandro Trossard.

Spanish replacement Adrian came on but his first act was to pick the ball out of the net as Lewis Dunk rolled the free-kick past the Liverpool wall and an unprepared goalkeeper.

The loss in midweek of influential midfielder Fabinho had taken the gloss off a successful period for Jurgen Klopp’s side, with an ankle injury ruling the Brazilian out for six weeks.

But the mood around Anfield before kick-off was certainly lifted when news came through from the north-east that their rivals Manchester City had unexpectedly dropped two points at Newcastle.

It did not take long for that mood to improve still further as Liverpool set about their task of attempting to move 11 points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side, the defending champions and the team still seen as their greatest challengers.

It took 18 minutes for Klopp’s men to take a deserved lead after Pascal Gross fouled Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain outside the Brighton area.

Trent Alexander-Arnold floated in the perfect free-kick and van Dijk rose powerfully above Adam Webster to head in his second goal of the season and first since the opening day of the season.

READ ALSO: West Ham Defeat Chelsea At Stamford Bridge

It did not take as long for van Dijk to wait for his third of the season — six minutes to be precise — as Brighton failed to learn from conceding the opener and allowed the same combination to double the lead.

This time it was from a left-wing corner as Alexander-Arnold delivered a perfect centre and the Dutch defender rose magnificently to beat Dunk and power a bullet header past a helpless Mat Ryan.

In between, van Dijk might have found the back of the net again, only this time his own, as he sliced a Davy Propper cross that flew inches wide of Liverpool’s far post.

But that was a rare moment of respite for Brighton, whose poor set-piece defending had left them facing a near-impossible task against a Liverpool side unbeaten in home league games since Crystal Palace beat them in April 2017, 951 days ago.

Ryan had already made three key saves to keep his side in contention, two from Roberto Firmino and another from Sadio Mane.

But, as the half progressed, there were moments of concern for a Liverpool side without a clean sheet in 11 games.

Jordan Henderson filled the absent Fabinho’s holding midfield position although he could not prevent the visitors from creating a couple of glorious openings late in the half as Propper was denied by Alisson and Dunk missed the target, unmarked, from 12 yards.

There were similar glimmers of hope for the visitors early in the second half, Dunk glancing a header wide and Aaron Connolly shooting straight at Alisson before Liverpool began to threaten on the counter-attack.

In the late drama that followed Alisson’s dismissal, Brighton pressed for an equaliser.

Adrian saved well from Aaron Mooy but almost fumbled a header from Gross into his own goal.

AFP

Too Early For Liverpool Title Talk, Says Van Dijk

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has dismissed the five-point lead they hold over title rivals Manchester City as irrelevant so early in the season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side briefly extended their advantage to eight points after beating Sheffield United 1-0 in the early kick-off on Saturday but City beat Everton to reduce the gap.

Even though Liverpool have a 100 percent record from their opening seven matches, Van Dijk stressed nobody inside the dressing room was giving it a second thought.

The Reds know from recent experience that the situation can change quickly. They had a seven-point lead over City before the two met at the Etihad Stadium on January 3, only to lose as Pep Guardiola’s side began their fightback.

“It’s far too early. We’re almost in October and the busy period will come,” said the Netherlands captain after Liverpool registered their 16th successive Premier League victory.

“There are still so many games left and the only thing we focus on is the game ahead of us. We don’t want to look at the others because there’s no point doing that.

“Everyone realises that as well because last season we saw how it turned quickly.”

Victory at Bramall Lane also extended the club record for successive away league wins to eight and they have not lost away from Anfield in the league since that defeat at the Etihad nine months ago.

“It’s the media who love statistics,” said Van Dijk. “The reality is we have nothing at the moment. We want to continue to do well and there’s still plenty of room for improvement.”

Saturday’s match-winner Georginio Wijnaldum said Liverpool’s scratchy win at Sheffield United was an example of the progress being made under Klopp.

Last season, when they missed out on a first top-flight title since 1990 by a single point, Liverpool drew seven matches, which included games against West Ham, Leicester and Everton.

“You see we make progression with what we did,” said Wijnaldum. “Back in previous years we had to play good to win the games. Now we play bad and still win games.”

AFP

Van Dijk Battles Ronaldo, Messi For World Best Player

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil Van Dijk threatens to eclipse fellow European stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to lift FIFA’s The Best Player award on Monday, to set himself up as favourite for this year’s Ballon d’Or.

Van Dijk, Ronaldo and Messi are the three men’s finalists for The Best Player award, with the winner to be announced on Monday in a star-studded ceremony in Milan’s famous opera house La Scala.

The towering Dutch defender helped Liverpool to the Champions League trophy last season and is well-positioned having already won the UEFA player of the year award.

Since The Best award was created in 2016, the winner has gone on to also lift the coveted Ballon d’Or, which will be unveiled on December 2.

Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won both awards last year to end Ronaldo and Messi’s ten-year domination.

In the past three years the podiums for both awards have been almost identical apart from Egyptian Mohamed Salah’s third place in The Best in 2018, a spot occupied by France’s Antoine Griezmann in the Ballon d’Or.

Based on Liverpool’s success last season it could be Van Dijk’s turn to become the first defender since Italy’s former World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

The 28-year-old proved himself among the best defenders in the world for Liverpool and the Dutch national side who reached the Nations League final.

Liverpool also missed out on the Premier League title by just one point behind Manchester City.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have won FIFA’s award in different guises five times each.

Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo’s six-year reign as the Champions League top scorer ended last season.

The 34-year-old scored six goals in Juventus’s European campaign, including an incredible treble against Atletico Madrid, before they were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Ronaldo also won the Nations League with Portugal and his first Serie A title with Juventus.

Messi was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals before Barcelona were eliminated by Liverpool in the semi-finals.

The Argentine was also the top European scorer with 36 goals and won La Liga title with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old helped Argentina to bronze at 2019 Copa America.

Messi however could pay for his three-month suspension by South American football body CONMEBOL after alleging corruption at the Copa America.

Among the women, American World Cup winners Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, are in the running along with England’s Lucy Bronze.

Rapinoe, 34, left France with a Golden Boot and Golden Ball award.

The three contenders for the men’s coaching award are Liverpool’s Champions League winning coach Jurgen Klopp, along with Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, who reached the European final, and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.

US women’s coach Jill Ellis is in the running for the women’s coaching award along with England’s Phil Neville and Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman.

AFP

Van Dijk Battle Ronaldo, Messi For FIFA Award

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk poses with his trophies of Best Men’s player in Europe of the Year and Best Defender at the end of the UEFA Champions League football group stage draw ceremony in Monaco on August 29, 2019. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk is on the shortlist to add FIFA’s best player award to his UEFA Men’s Player of the Year honour.

The Dutch international denied Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the European title last week and the same trio are in the running for the FIFA accolade to be announced in Milan on September 23.

Van Dijk starred in Liverpool’s triumphant Champions League campaign.

READ ALSO: Van Dijk Wins UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year Award

England full-back Lucy Bronze won UEFA’s women’s award and is on FIFA’s shortlist with the United States’ World Cup-winning duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is up against Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham for best men’s coach.

Phil Neville, who led England’s women to a World Cup semi-final, is up for the women’s coach award with the USA’s Jill Ellis and Sarina Wiegman who guided European champions the Netherlands to the World Cup final.

FIFA Best shortlists

Men’s player:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Women’s player:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)

Men’s coach:

Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Women’s coach:

Jill Ellis (USA), Phil Neville (England), Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)

Women’s goalkeeper:

Christiane Endler (Paris St-Germain/Chile), Hedvig Lindahl (Wolfsburg/Sweden), Sari van Veenendaal (Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)

Men’s goalkeeper:

Alisson (Liverpool/Brazil), Ederson (Manchester City/Brazil), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Puskas award (for best goal):

Lionel Messi (Barcelona v Real Betis), Juan Quintero (River Plate v Racing Club), Daniel Zsori (Debrecen v Ferencvaros)

AFP

Van Dijk Wins UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year Award

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk poses with his trophies of Best Men’s player in Europe of the Year and Best Defender at the end of the UEFA Champions League football group stage draw ceremony in Monaco on August 29, 2019. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award on Thursday, edging out Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Lucy Bronze took the women’s prize.

Dutchman Van Dijk starred as Liverpool won their sixth European Cup last season with a 2-0 Champions League final victory over Tottenham in Madrid.

“I need to thank my teammates, without them I would not have achieved what I have achieved,” Van Dijk told BT Sport.

“It’s been a long road and it’s part of my journey. I’m very proud to get this trophy. It’s credit to everyone who has helped me.”

READ ALSO: Neymar Participates In PSG Training Amid Reports Of Barcelona Deal

The 28-year-old is the first defender to win the award since the inaugural edition in 2010-11.

He moved to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a then-world record fee for a defender of £75 million ($91.4 million), immediately helping them reach that season’s Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid.

But Van Dijk was a key figure as Liverpool won their first major trophy since 2012 last term, while also setting a club-record points tally in finishing second by a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

“I wasn’t 18 and went straight to the top. I had to work every step of the way,” added Van Dijk, who was also part of the Netherlands side who lost the inaugural Nations League final to Ronaldo’s Portugal.

Messi and Ronaldo had claimed five of the previous eight awards between them, with Andres Iniesta (2012), Franck Ribery (2013) and Luka Modric (2018) completing the winners’ list.

“It’s not easy but of course we have a good relationship,” said Ronaldo of Messi.

“We have not yet had dinner but it is nice. We push each other and it’s good to be part of the history of football.”

Ronaldo’s first season in Italy after joining Juventus from Real Madrid brought him a Serie A winners’ medal, but the Turin giants suffered a shock Champions League quarter-final loss to Ajax.

“It was a special year,” said the 34-year-old.

Full-back Bronze won the Women’s Champions League title with Lyon before helping England reach the women’s World Cup semi-finals.

“We had an amazing season, winning the treble,” said Bronze of Lyon’s exploits. “I think any of my teammates could have been up here receiving the award today.”

The 27-year-old Bronze is the first English player to win either of the UEFA player of the year titles.

AFP