Virgil van Dijk: PFA winner focused on Lionel Messi and Barcelona, dismissing Ballon d’Or talk

The Liverpool centre-back was crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday for his standout Premier League season, but faces a tough test in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old’s rock-solid form at the heart of the Reds’ defence has helped keep his side in contention for their first league title in 29 years and seen them once again progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Spanish title-winners Barcelona await Van Dijk in the last four of the European competition, with the first leg at the Nou Camp, a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT.

  • Van Dijk was destined to become world class, say former Groningen team-mates

  • How Van Dijk nearly DIED in 2012


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  • Barcelona vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea (Thursday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
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  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

And the world’s most expensive defender admits he still has plenty to prove to be considered alongside the continent’s elite players, including Barca’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.

“Nah, that’s not something that’s on my mind at all,” Van Dijk replied when asked about winning the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year.

Lionel Messi secured his 10th LaLiga title with Barcelona on Saturday.

“There are currently players walking around in this football world that are out of this world basically and they’ve been doing it for many years.

“I’m very happy how I perform at the moment, how consistent I’m performing, that I’m fit as well. I think I just need to not look too far ahead.

“Right now we’re in a tight title race, in the Champions League semi-finals against a fantastic team, where probably the best players are playing so we just take it game by game.

“For us now it’s time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game at Newcastle away as well so I won’t look too far ahead and the only goals I will set are personal goals with Liverpool.”

While Argentina forward Messi secured his 10th LaLiga title with Barca this weekend, Van Dijk became only the fourth defender – after Gary Pallister, Paul McGrath and John Terry – to win the PFA award.

Signed from Southampton for £75million in January 2018, he has played a pivotal role in turning Liverpool’s defence into the tightest in the division, conceding only 20 goals in 36 games and contributing to a league-high 20 clean sheets this term.

Jurgen Klopp’s second-placed side sit only a point behind leaders Manchester City with two fixtures remaining.

Holland international Van Dijk, part of the team beaten in last year’s Champions League final by Real Madrid, has previously spoken of becoming “a legend of Liverpool“.

Bolton vs Brentford: Postponed Championship fixture will NOT take place this week, EFL confirm

The fixture was originally scheduled to take place last Saturday, but it was cancelled as Wanderers players boycotted over unpaid wages.

Bolton have been told they must fulfil their two outstanding fixtures – the Brentford clash as well as the final day trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday – with the EFL to decide on Thursday when the Brentford match will take place.

The Brentford game will not be rearranged for this week, with the EFL confirming it could take place after the last round of fixtures has been completed.

“The EFL has this morning confirmed that Bolton Wanderers’ suspended Sky Bet Championship fixture with Brentford will not be played this week,” a statement released by the governing body read.

“The EFL Board will now determine on Thursday 2 May 2019 as to what arrangements are to be put in place in regards to the fixture and Bolton Wanderers will be instructed accordingly.

Tottenham vs Ajax: Ruthless Spurs will end Dutch side’s fairytale, says Liverpool Champions League hero Didi Hamann

Spurs host the Dutch outfit at their recently opened new stadium this evening (Tuesday), knowing they come up against one of the surprise packages of the tournament.

Ajax have shocked everyone to reach the last-four having started their European campaign all the way back in July in the second qualifying round. They made it out of a group which featured Bayern Munich and Benfica, going unbeaten across their six matches, before beating Real Madrid and Juventus in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are themselves a surprise package considering they had just one point after their opening three group stage matches, but the quarter-final defeat of Manchester City earlier this month proved Spurs deserve to be in the semi-finals.

Tottenham injury news: Mauricio Pochettino rules Harry Kane out of Champions League semi-final against Ajax

The top scoring Spurs striker has been ruled out for the remainder of the Premier League season with an ankle injury.

Kane is set to miss Tuesday’s first leg tie with Ajax and will not recover in time for the away game in Amsterdam on May 8, however, he could return for Spurs if they reach the Champions League final on June 1.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said: “He’s doing well. He’s working and starting to run a bit inside.

“His rehab is so good but we cannot create an idea that we maybe cannot achieve.

“The most important thing is that he is in a good place and we’ll see what happens.

“Will he [be fit for the game at Ajax]? No chance? Oh, Jesus [Perez, Tottenham’s assistant manager] says no chance.”


talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here's what's coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2…

  • Millwall vs Bristol City (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Swansea vs Derby (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barcelona vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea (Thursday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

Heung-min Son has been filling in for Kane since the England captain hobbled off in Tottenham’s Champions League quarter-final first leg win over Manchester City on April 9.

But the South Korea international is suspended for their first leg tie with Ajax, which could see veteran striker Fernando Llorente lead the line.

Pochettino added: “The energy, the semi-final, the chance to play a semi-final for Tottenham does not happen often.

“We are in circumstances that are impossible to change and we must be ready.

Gareth Bale is 100 per cent committed to Real Madrid despite Zinedine Zidane questioning his focus

The former Tottenham midfielder played the full 90 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, but Zidane wondered whether the player’s heart was in the right place.

“I don’t know if Bale is focused, you’ll have to ask him,” the Real Madrid boss said.

There has been continued speculation regarding Bale’s future at the Bernabeu over the past couple of seasons, despite him having a current deal with the club until the summer of 2022.

Jordan Henderson’s incredible stats prove Jurgen Klopp was right to ‘change’ his position for Liverpool

Since being liberated of his defensive duties by Jurgen Klopp, the Reds midfielder has been a revelation in the No.8 role.

After falling behind to Southampton at St Mary’s, the German manager sent on his captain in an attempt to salvage three points.

Failure to do so would almost certainly guarantee Manchester City would retain the Premier League title. But ‘Hendo’ had other ideas.

A goal and assist to secure a 3-1 win meant Klopp had no choice but to deploy the 28-year-old further forward and the results have been incredible.

“Hendo is a brilliant player,” Klopp said of his captain.

“I’m really happy he can show that again.

“He likes that position so it is my fault he played for one and a half years as the holding player, but we needed him there.”

With just two games of the Premier League season remaining and a tricky Champions League tie against Barcelona coming up, Henderson will need to be at his best.

But, with the support of his manager, he believes anything is possible.

“Me and the gaffer just had a conversation,” said Henderson, who scored his first Liverpool goal since September 2017 in the win against the Saints.

“Obviously he saw the England games. I felt good playing in that position.”

Former Ajax star Rafael van der Vaart says double nutmeg on Jack Wilshere was a Tottenham highlight

His technique and ability to embarrass Arsenal only endeared himself to the Spurs faithful.

The Dutchman, who played 63 times in the Premier League between 2010 and 2012, had a tendency to find the net in north London derbies, scoring five times in four matches against rivals Arsenal.

And it’s the 3-3 draw against Arsenal in April 2011 he considers to be one of his most memorable games during his time in north London.

In that match, Van der Vaart levelled for Spurs after Theo Walcott had fired the Gunners ahead in the fifth minute.

Paul Pogba transfer latest: Manchester United stars ‘openly joking’ about Real Madrid speculation

The 26-year-old has reportedly already agreed personal terms with the LaLiga giants and has asked to leave Old Trafford.

Pogba’s Manchester United future has been thrown into doubt this season as the midfielder admitted a move to Real would be a ‘dream’.

United are sixth in the Premier League, with Sunday’s draw with Chelsea keeping them three points off a Champions League spot with two games to go.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have won just one of their past four league games with Pogba’s form dropping off throughout that period.


talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here's what's coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2…

  • Millwall vs Bristol City (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Swansea vs Derby (Wedndesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barcelona vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea (Thursday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

The France international has not scored from open play since February.

Failure to secure Champions League football could lead to his departure from Man United at the end of the season.

Spanish outlet AS claim United players have been joking with Pogba about a potential move to Real.

One unnamed player is alleged to have said ‘If you go to Real, do not forget me’ and ‘Invite me when you’re playing at the Bernabeu’.

Arsenal should forget about Premier League and focus on Europa League after ‘disastrous’ run, says legend Ray Parlour

The north London side have fallen behind in the top-four race after three straight defeats in the Premier League – the latest a 3-0 thumping by Leicester on Sunday.

Qualification for next season’s Champions League through their league position is still a possibility, as they only sit two points behind fourth place Chelsea with two games left to play.

But they also face two tough Europa League semi-final ties against Valencia, with the Gunners hosting the first leg on Thursday.

Leeds vs Aston Villa: ‘I would have done the same as Pontus Jansson,’ says former Elland Road star Vinnie Jones

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa ordered his team to let Villa score straight from the restart after his side’s controversial opening goal.

Mateusz Klich’s 72nd minute strike sparked a mass brawl between the teams, after Leeds players ignored pleas to kick the ball out of play as Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia lay on the turf injured.

After arguing with Villans boss Dean Smith, Bielsa told his players to allow the visitors to equalise, although not all of Leeds’ men agreed with the decision.

Centre-back Pontus Jansson was shoved by a Villa player and got a telling off from some of his team-mates as he attempted to tackle Albert Adomah as he walked the ball into the net.

But Jones admits he would have done the same and says Villa players were wrong to try and stop the game.

“You’ve got to play on,” the footballer-turned-Hollywood hardman said on Monday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“If the referee thinks its ungentlemanly conduct, he could have blown the whistle before the forward went through and scored, he could have pulled it back.

“And, the Aston Villa players were pointing for it to go out, and all of a sudden they start defending.

“If I was in that situation I would have got on with it.

“The same as Jansson, when he was defending it I think I would have done the same with the adrenaline going.”