Van Dijk is FAVOURITE for the Ballon d’Or after Messi dumped out of Copa America

VIRGIL VAN DIJK is now favourite to become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the Ballon d’Or.

The Liverpool colossus has surged ahead of close rival Lionel Messi after Argentina’s knockout to Brazil in the Copa America semi-final.

Messi, a five-time winner of the prestigious award, failed to score or register an assist in the competition before his country suffered a 2-0 defeat against their South American rivals.

Van Dijk, 27, was instrumental in Liverpool’s success last season as they went onto lift the Champions League.

If he does win the Ballon d’Or he will become the first Liverpool player to claim it since Michael Owen in 2001.

The bookies have him as 4/6 favourite with Messi narrowly behind with odds of 6/5.

After that and seemingly out of the running is Cristiano Ronaldo who is priced at 12/1.