FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi is still the best player in the world and deserved to beat Liverpool‘s Virgil van Dijk to claim the 2019 Ballon d’Or, according to former Netherlands defender Jaap Stam.
Mess lifted his sixth Ballon d’Or gong leaving behind the likes of Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo, who formed part of the top three.
After the ceremony, there were many who were seen claiming that Van Dijk actually deserved to be the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to land the gong.
However, former Manchester United, Lazio and AC Milan centre-back Stam believes Messi deserved to take the award despite Van Dijk’s strong performances.
“Normally a defender is underestimated and people don’t think a lot about them,” the 47-year-old told Goal. “I think nowadays it is becoming better and people appreciate the job of defending a lot more.”, he added.
He continued, “But goalscorers earn more money and they get more attention. That’s how it’s always been and that’s how it’s going to be in the future.”
Revealing why it was right to hand Ballon d’Or to Messi, Stam stated, “And looking at the world now, I think Messi is still the best player. If you look at the Ballon d’Or and winning the trophy, I think the right decision was to give it to Messi.”
He concluded, “I would have liked to give it to Virgil because I think he’s done great. It’s not that I don’t want him to win it, but I think Messi and what he is doing year in, year out, scoring goals and creating goals with the pressure he’s under, I think he deserves it.”