Virgil Van Dijk has dismissed talk of winning the Ballon d’Or and insists he is fully focused on attempting to shackle “out of this world” Lionel Messi in the Champions League.
Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk has been the Premier League’s standout performer this season and was crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday evening.
The 27-year-old’s rock-solid form at the heart of the Reds’ defence has helped keep his side in contention for their first league title in 29 years and seen them once again progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Spanish title-winners Barcelona await Van Dijk in the last four of the European competition, starting with tomorrow’s first leg at the Nou Camp.
And the world’s most expensive defender admits he still has plenty to prove to be considered alongside the continent’s elite players, including Barca’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.
“There are currently players walking around in this football world that are out of this world basically and they’ve been doing it for many years.
“I’m very happy how I perform at the moment, how consistent I’m performing, that I’m fit as well. I think I just need to not look too far ahead.
“Right now we’re in a tight title race, in the Champions League semi-finals against a fantastic team, where probably the best players are playing so we just take it game by game.
“For us now it’s time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game at Newcastle away as well so I won’t look too far ahead and the only goals I will set are personal goals with Liverpool.”
Van Dijk is only the fourth defender — after Gary Pallister, Paul McGrath and John Terry — to win the PFA award.