Ronaldo came third in the running but he was not present at the ceremony, preferring not to witness his rival move ahead of him in the record books.
It was van Dijk’s first time on the podium but he raised some eyebrows with a light-hearted troll of Ronaldo as he made his way into the ceremony. ‘Cristiano won’t be here, so that’s already one rival less,’ said the interviewer. But Van Dijk replied with a smile: ‘Was he a rival then?’
It’s hard to say if he really meant to be that brutal about Ronaldo’s chances, but it shows that his form has dropped below his usual standards over the past few months.
That garnered some negative remarks on social media with Arsenal supporter Piers Morgan telling Van Dijk that ‘Ronaldo is a far greater player, you’re not in his league’.
But Van Dijk was quick to settle the furor, insisting it was only meant as a ‘joke’ and that he had ‘respect’ for both Ronaldo and Messi.
In response, Van Dijk wrote ‘Hi Piers, If you don’t jump on the social media bandwagon and would listen to the whole interview then you would know I made a joke, and only got respect for those 2’
Also, Cristiano Rolando’s sister, Katia Aveiro, did not take the statement well as she sent a lengthy rant to Van Dijk on Instagram. She wrote: “Now, dear Virgil, where you are going, Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and has come a thousand times,” she wrote.
“You see, my dear Virgil, that Cristiano Ronaldo was a tri-champion in the country where you have been playing for years and you still haven’t got your hand in the can. Cristiano Ronaldo was even the best player and best scorer in the country where you play Virgil. By the way, I was even younger than you.
“Then, dear Virgil, Cristiano Ronaldo went to other places and became the greatest player in the history of a clubezito. Real Madrid, tell you something, Virgil? Maybe so, because this club, with this Cristiano guy, even beat you in the Champions League final. Of these, Ronaldo already has five, Virgil.
“And that fellow Ronaldo and team-mates, with the corners on his chest, crushed your “orange” in a final. Was it hard, Virgil? We have pity.
“And, dear Virgil, In one of the least successful times of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has won even more titles than you. Awesome, isn’t it?
“Now Virgil will win titles from those who really count and then we’ll talk. When you have a handful of them, the really important ones, you might be able to sit at the table with Cristiano.
“It’s for me Cristiano you are and you will always be the best player in the world!!!
“And who does not like to put it on the wheel of the plate!!! (as they say in our land, small for many) but where came the best ever.”