​FC Barcelona legend Carles Puyol is of the certain opinion that ​Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk deserved his recognition as the ​UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award winner ahead of ​Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Van Dijk beat stiff competition from Barcelona hitman Messi and Juventus superstar Ronaldo to win the award at the start of the season.

The Dutch defender has been the main reason for Liverpool's rise to dominion in England and Europe, especially last season when they achieved UEFA Champions League glory and almost won the Premier League crown, which has eluded them forever.

Van Dijk’s incredible effort for Liverpool was rewarded with the UEFA prize, which Puyol believes was completely deserved, despite the form of Messi and Ronaldo this year.

​Express quote the Independent in revealing Puyol's thoughts in Van Dijk as he said, "Van Dijk is one of the best in the world. He is the complete defender, always calm, a great player. The spotlight usually goes to the strikers, so it is nice to see a defender get deserved recognition."

Puyol continued, "It’s true that in recent years Messi for me is the best, and it’s difficult to compare to him because to me he’s the best player in history. We’ve also had Cristiano who’s a great player."

Revealing that with Messi and Ronaldo, its difficult to win individual crowns for other players, Puyol concluded, "The two (Messi and Ronaldo) have always been there, and few players have had the opportunity to win an individual trophy. Having these two players in this era, he’s (Van Dijk is) doing an excellent job and I’m very happy for him.”