When Virgil van Dijk was named UEFA Player of the Year earlier this week, the news was met with little surprise. The Liverpool defender was in phenomenal form last season and was the favourite for the gong after his team's Champions League triumph.
A defender winning individual awards of this calibre are a rarity. Forwards get the vast majority of plaudits, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominating those occasions over the past decade or so. The fact that van Dijk was not a controversial winner tells you all you need to know about his levels of performance over the past 12 months.
Still, some people feel these awards should be reserved for goal scorers.
Speaking on BT Sport this afternoon, Rio Ferdinand admitted he felt the award should instead have gone to Messi or Ronaldo.
"I'm happy for Van Dijk but when someone scores 50, you can't do that!"@rioferdy5 breaks from the centre-back union and believes Van Dijk still falls short of Messi and Ronaldo.#EarlyKickOff pic.twitter.com/vNcEnzqitv
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 31, 2019
There's no doubt in my mind that Virgil van Dijk is the best defender on the planet today.
But when a man scores 50 goals in a season like Messi did or wins three trophies like Ronaldo and the effect he had on a new championship and at national level - you can't look beyond that.
And people might say it's a bit boring that these two are still winning it but they are putting up numbers that has never been seen before, for 12 or 15 years and you just can't look beyond that.
I'm a centre-half, I'm delighted he's won it and I think he is a worthy winner but when you've got a man scoring 50 you can't give it to him.
The hardest thing to do in the game is score a goal, I'm sorry I can't reward a slide tackle.
I wouldn't spend my hard-earned money coming to watch a defender, I spend my money to watch someone entertain me by someone who gets me off my seat.
Ferdinand was joined on air by Joe Cole, who shared a similar sentiment.
It typical fashion, he did so by including a couple of very odd lines.
You can't have a centre-half winning the Ballon d'Or. People pay their money in the stadium to watch Messi and Ronaldo to see goals and skills.
I think Van Dijk grew up wanting to be Ronaldinho.
He's Van Dijk and he didn't even want to be Van Dijk.
He's brilliant but for me the Ballon d'Or should be what excites fans. But the elite thing is the glamour and razzmatazz of football.