Jürgen Klopp takes pleasure and pride from Liverpool’s pre-eminence in the Ballon d’Or results and has challenged his players to achieve similar performance levels this season.

Monday night’s ceremony in Paris saw four members of Klopp’s squad named in the top seven of the final men’s rankings for the game’s most prestigious individual honour.

Virgil van Dijk finished second behind Lionel Messi, with Sadio Mane in fourth, Mohamed Salah fifth and Alisson Becker, the highest-placed goalkeeper and Yachine Trophy winner, seventh.

Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum also featured in the top 26 of the standings.

Speaking at his press conference to preview Wednesday’s Merseyside derby, the Reds’ boss said: “The decision in this case is made by journalists, right? So, that’s how people see it and it’s absolutely no problem. I see it slightly differently, I think it’s normal that a lot of people see it slightly differently. 

“Lionel Messi, I have said probably 500,000 times in my life already, is probably the best player I saw during my lifetime, that’s how it is. I saw very early in my life Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, I saw Diego Maradona and then I see Lionel Messi more often. 

“I have no clue how the others would have played nowadays - probably as well pretty exceptional, but Lionel is here now and he rightly so won it [the Ballon d’Or] six times and Cristiano [Ronaldo] five times. 

“But the last season, if you really go for only that season, then I cannot remember a more impressive season of a defender ever, honestly. So it would’ve been right as well if Virg would have won it [and] now I heard it was pretty close. What Virg said afterwards is absolutely how he is as a person, fantastic. 

“And the group of players: we won the Champions League, we played an outstanding season, we got 97 points. It’s normal that people see that. I’m really happy for them. I think No.17 or so was Trent? Who would have thought that three years ago? 

“So it’s nice, but it’s last season. I think now pretty much all the awards are done and the boys can go for new awards, if they want.”

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Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool FC

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