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Van Dijk not eying Messi’s crown as world’s best

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Virgil van Dijk was crowned the Premier League’s Player of the Year by his peers on Sunday, but the Liverpool defender insists he is not thinking of battling Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or. Van Dijk will come up against the five-time Ballon d’Or winner when Liverpool travel to Barcelona for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. Messi has scored 46 goals this season as Barca have wrapped up another La Liga title with three games to spare and remain on course for a treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League. “That’s not something that’s on my mind at all,” said Van Dijk at the prospect of rivalling 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.” Liverpool head to the Camp Nou on a run of 10 consecutive wins in all competitions, but have still not been able to usurp Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s men trail the champions by one point with two games to play and face a tricky trip to Newcastle sandwiched between both legs of their semi-final with Barcelona. “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,” added Van Dijk. “For us, now it’s time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game at Newcastle away as well. “I won’t look too far ahead and the only goals I will set are personal goals with Liverpool.”

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