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Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender says Ballon d


Virgil van Dijk cost Liverpool £75m when they signed the Dutchman from Southampton in January 2018

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says winning the Ballon d’Or would be “a big honour” but he can still get better.

Van Dijk, 28, is one of the favourites to win the award for the world’s best player after being instrumental in Liverpool’s Champions League victory and Premier League title challenge.

“If I am rewarded for the season I had last year that would be unbelievable and I would be so proud,” he said.

“But I feel there is still more to come. I can get more out of me.”

Van Dijk has been an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s side’s improvement since joining from Southampton for £75m – a world-record fee for a defender – in January 2018.

He won last season’s Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award and was also named the BBC Sport website’s player of the year.

But the Netherlands captain says he is a harsh critic of his own game and will demand more from himself this season to try to win more trophies.

“Obviously, it is a big honour to be named as one of the favourites to win such a prestigious award but what can I do? I just get on with playing,” he told BBC Sport.

“I am very hard on myself. I know the slightest loss of concentration, the slightest mistake will be punished. I try to limit it as much as possible.

“I have always been very critical of myself and I like the people around me to be critical too. And they are, the manager is as well, which is a good thing.

“I have improved since I joined Liverpool. Last year I am very satisfied with the fact that I played so many games on a consistent level, I am very proud of that fact. On a critical part I could have done more on attacking set-pieces, been more dangerous. It is not easy, I try to work on it.

“I feel there is still more to come. That comes from playing games. In my position it is all about experience as well. Playing games, staying fit, and that will hopefully bring success for the team.”

Liverpool are fighting on seven fronts this season – including a December trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup – and such is Manchester City’s form over the past two years that Van Dijk believes Liverpool may need to match their record haul of 97 points from last term to challenge for a first Premier League title again.

“You have to do a similar number again, look at City they are a fantastic team,” he said.

“Every Liverpool fan dreams of the Premier League. Everyone is waiting for it. We were so close last year, unfortunately it didn’t happen but the only thing we can do is go for it.

“There are so many games. Our December period is a madness, basically.

“Last season we lost only one game, we did everything we could but City were just a little bit better than us.

“We have to respect that as well. We are going to try and do even better than last year.”

Liverpool conclude a three-match tour of the United States on Wednesday, when they face Sporting Lisbon at New York’s Yankee Stadium.

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