“He had a really good season, he tried to stop everyone he was playing against,” said Wijnaldum, as quoted by Liverpoolfc.com.

“It’s not up to us to decide if he wins the Ballon d’Or. For us, he’s the best defender in the world and if you look at his season he definitely deserves the Ballon d’Or. But it’s not up to us, it’s up to other people to decide that.”

Ryan Babel also backed Van Dijk, telling Sky Sports: “The last [defender to win the award] I remember was Cannavaro in 2006, so it’s not impossible.

“I think it’s fair that he would be at least on the list. We will see at the end if he wins it – I would be very happy for him.”