Ashley Cole insists Lionel Messi deserved to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Virgil van Dijk – despite his personal desire to see a defender win the top prize.
But Barcelona star Messi scooped his sixth Golden Ball, leaving Van Dijk and Liverpool supporters frustrated to see him overlooked.
The Dutchman did edge Cristiano Ronaldo to take second place in the voting – but ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and England star Cole reckons the two attacking superstars are still the two men who deserved to finish in the top two.
“It’s tough,” Cole told Omnisport.
“You want different positions maybe being credited with how good they’ve played in that season, but to be honest I don’t think you can look outside of Messi and Ronaldo.
“What Messi does week in, week out is not normal.
“Again, the same with Ronaldo.
“It wasn’t a surprise that Messi won it but one day, yeah, we probably would like a defender to win it.”
Speaking after missing out, Van Dijk noted the remarkable level of Messi and Ronaldo which has seen them dominate the award.
“It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like [Messi and Ronaldo] who are a bit unnatural,” he said.
“I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.
“I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated.”