Kaka has welcomed the prospect of Virgil van Dijk being a contender for the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

The Brazilian, who claimed the annual award himself in 2007, believes it is refreshing for a defender to be regarded among the leading candidates this year.

Van Dijk has already been named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2018-19 and received the PFA Players’ Player of the Year accolade last season.

The Liverpool No.4 is also in the final three for the Best FIFA Men’s Player, which will be presented in Milan on Monday evening.

The 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or will be announced by France Football magazine in October and the winner revealed in early December.

“It’s really nice to see a player like Van Dijk battle to be one of the best,” said Kaka.

“It would be nice to see another defender winning an award like that. If I’m not wrong, the last one was Cannavaro. It would be nice to see him there and fighting for this.”