Former Arsenal and Chelsea star Ashley Cole has made the case for Lionel Messi as the rightful Ballon d’Or winner ahead of Liverpool center-back Virgil van Dijk.
Cole expressed his personal desire to see a defender winning the award once again after Fabio Cannavaro made history back in 2006, but he doesn’t believe it was the right time for Virgil.
Van Dijk was tipped to win the longed-for award, but Barcelona star Messi scooped his sixth Golden Ball, leaving Van Dijk and Liverpool supporters frustrated, more so after seeing the close margin between both players.
He did surpass Cristiano Ronaldo and took second place in the voting, but Cole still believes both strikers deserved to finish in the top two.
"It's tough," Cole told Omnisport, via the Mirror.
"You want different positions maybe being credited with how good they've played in that season, but to be honest I don't think you can look outside of Messi and Ronaldo.
"What Messi does week in, week out is not normal.
"Again, the same with Ronaldo.
“It wasn't a surprise that Messi won it but one day, yeah, we probably would like a defender to win it."
Speaking after missing out, Van Dijk praised the level of Messi and Ronaldo which has seen them dominate the award.
“It was an amazing year, but there's a couple of players like [Messi and Ronaldo] who are a bit unnatural,” he said.
Still, seeing the level he’s showing every week and his improvement on the pitch, perhaps it won’t take too long before we see Virgil lifting the prize.