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Ferdinand: Van Dijk didn’t deserve to win UEFA award

Rio Ferdinand has questioned the decision to award Virgil van Dijk the UEFA player of the year award this week, saying ‘you can’t look beyond’ Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the games top individual honours.

The Liverpool defender scooped the award during Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw, following his hugely impressive campaign in 2018/19, in which he helped transform the Reds defence to the meanest in the Premier League, as well as steering the club to Champions League glory in Madrid back in June.

However, while former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand insisted that he was ‘delighted’ to see a fellow centre-back recognised for his impressive season, he admits that either Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo should have scooped the award.

“There’s no doubt Virgil van Dijk is the best defender on the planet right now,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“But listen, when a man scores 50 goals in a season like Messi did, or Cristiano winning trophies like he did and the effect he’s had in a new championship and at national level – you can’t look beyond that.

“People saying it’s a bit boring those two winning it every year, but they are putting up numbers we haven’t seen before for 12 to 15 years. You can’t look beyond that.

“I’m a centre-half and I’m delighted he’s won it but when you’ve got someone scoring 50 goals a season you can’t do that. They’re the best. Messi and Ronaldo have been penalised for the standards they’ve set it’s become boring for some people.”

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QUIZ: Can you name every PFA Player of the Year since 1992?