Jose Mourinho tells Virgil van Dijk what he needs to do to win the Ballon d’Or

Jose Mourinho rates Virgil van Dijk's chances of winning Ballon d'Or

The defender was named the man of the match in the Champions League final (Picture: Getty)

Jose Mourinho has backed Virgil van Dijk to win the Ballon d’Or but believes the Liverpool centre-back may need to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League to claim football’s top individual prize.

The Dutch defender has had a tremendous campaign, winning the PFA Player of the Year award as Liverpool fell just short of claiming the Premier League title, only losing once all season.

He was also named man of the match in Liverpool’s Champions League final victory over Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday night, once again not putting a foot out of place.

Chief Executive of the PFA Gordon Taylor (left) and chairman Ben Purkiss (right) with Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk who won the PFA Player of the Year award during the 2019 PFA Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 28, 2019. See PA story SOCCER PFA. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Van Dijk was named the PFA Player of the Year by his peers (Picture: Getty)

No defender has won the Ballon d’Or – or even been nominated – since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 but Mourinho believes one more title can make Van Dijk a real contender.

‘I think Van Dijk, why not a defender?’ said Mourinho on Russia Today when asked who could win the Ballon d’Or.

‘He didn’t win the Premier League in spite of being the best player, or considered the best player, but if Holland manage to go to Portugal and win [the Nations League] – a small trophy, but a trophy – that can play [a role].’

However, Mourinho acknowledges that there is plenty of competition for the prize, continuing: ‘Lionel Messi with Argentina in the Copa America. [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane in the African Cup.

‘I think Salah better last season than this season but European champion. Mane fantastic all season, European champion and I think Senegal is qualified for the final phase.’

Jose Mourinho tells Virgil van Dijk how to beat Lionel Messi to Ballon d'Or

Not even Messi managed to dribble past Van Dijk this season (Picture: Getty)

Van Dijk was asked about the Ballon d’Or straight after the Champions League final and gave his own take: ‘I think Messi is the best player in the world. He should win the Ballon d’Or.

‘So I’m not thinking of that. But if I win, I’ll take it. Messi should win it though. He is the best in the world, whether he’s in the final or not.’