Sergio Ramos has backed Virgil van Dijk to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or – and not completely ruled out joining the Liverpool star in the Premier League one day.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com at the launch of a new Amazon Prime series based on his life, Ramos acknowledged his defensive rival as ‘one of the best’ as the year enters awards season.
Dutch superstar Van Dijk has already scooped the UEFA Men’s Player of the Season award and Ramos believes he stands a great chance of landing the prestigious Ballon d’Or in December.
The Real Madrid captain said: “The prize is an individual prize and I believe football to be a collective game.
“But it is true that Van Dijk is one of the best and he’s proven to be so.
“Every one of the ten people to be contenders deserves this prize, but he’s a great player.
“I will be happy as a defensive player for a colleague to receive this prize, considering the last one was Fabio Cannavaro [in 2006].”
Van Dijk would be in elite company if he were to lift the award.
Cannavaro – then at Real Madrid – became the third defender to win the Ballon d’Or since its inception in 1956 – alongside Matthias Sammar and Franz Beckenbauer.
While he has not received the Ballon d’Or, Ramos himself possesses a bulging cabinet of personal awards including nine inclusions in the FIFPro World XI and five La Liga Best Defender gongs, but could he ever see himself battling it out with Van Dijk in the Premier League?
The 32-year-old has been subjected to much transfer speculation throughout his 14 years with Real Madrid, and he has not entirely closed the door on a move in the future.
He said: “It’s one of the two best leagues in the world – with ours – because of the passion they have in England, how intense it is and the quality and the talent of the players.
“I’ve always believed my destiny is to be with Real Madrid and the national team.
“I feel very comfortable there, so I’ve never thought about it, but you never know what may happen in the future – they have all my admiration.”
However, in May 2019, Ramos called an impromptu press conference to signal his intent to stay in Madrid following reported interest from an unnamed Chinese Super League club.
He stated: “My relationship with the president is similar to that of a father and son. I have no intention of leaving the club and wish to retire here.”
One player whose destiny could also be at the Santiago Bernabeu is Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman was a reported transfer target for Real Madrid over the summer, with rumours suggesting he would hand in a transfer request to force through a mega-money move.
Pogba remained with United in the end, but his future is far from secure, and Ramos was quick to praise him.
“He is one of the great players in the football world and there are always rumours with Real Madrid,” said Ramos. “You never know what is true and what is not.
“I think he is a great player, a different player, he contributes great balance including defensive play. He has great natural talent and has proven that at Man Utd and Juventus.
“He has an amazing physique and Real Madrid is always open to new, great players, but you never know.”
El Corazón de Sergio Ramos launches on Prime Video on 13th September