Virgil van Dijk took a swipe at Cristiano Ronaldo after bowing to Lionel Messi’s “greatness” at the 2019 Ballon d’Or awards.
The Dutchman finished second behind Messi who he congratulated but he aimed a dig at the absent Ronaldo who came in third.
Messi claimed his sixth Ballon d’Or at the swanky do in Paris.
And 28-year-old van Dijk accepted defeat to the Argentine superstar in gracious fashion.
The Liverpool defender said: “It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural.
“So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year.
“But that will be tough with those guys around here still.”
Despite the nice guy comments about the Barcelona great, van Dijk was not so friendly when asked about five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo.
A reporter initially said to van Dijk: “Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be here tonight, so that’s already one less rival to care about.”
And apparently ignoring the Juventus man’s legendary achievements in the game, van Dijk shot back: “Was Cristiano Ronaldo really a rival?”
Ronaldo – who last won the award in 2017 – was absent from the ceremony and has not posted on social media since the winner was announced.