Europe's footballer of the year award is fast becoming the Northern Hemisphere equivalent of the Brownlow Medal.
As the AFL's highest individual award has degenerated into a possessions contest, so the best European footballer has come to be judged on goals alone.
It is an over-simplistic approach which effectively excludes an entire section of the field of play.
In recent years, the award has become a two-horse race between the world's best goal-scoring thoroughbreds.
Argentina's Lionel Messi (2009, '11 and '15) and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (2008, '14, '16 and '17) shared a stranglehold while also maintaining a decade-long dominance of the more famous Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player.
That came to an end last year when both awards were claimed by Luca Modric, the minuscule, marvellously-maned midfielder who helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and Croatia reach the World Cup final.
It was the first time in five years that the European award had not been won by a forward.
In fact, in its 20-year existence, the award has been won by a forward or midfielder 19 times - Italy's gloriously-goateed goalkeeper Gigi Buffon bucking the trend back in 2003.
Considering there are four basic positions on a football field, the award's honour roll does not make healthy reading for defenders.
The likes of Philipp Lahm, Gerard Pique, Frank de Boer, Paolo Maldini and Marcel Desailly are nowhere to be found.
But all that could be about to change.
The shortlist for this year's award comprises the usual suspects of Messi and Ronaldo plus Virgil van Dijk.
Messi was top-scorer in last season's Champions League and Ronaldo claimed the same accolade in the Nations League, which he won with Portugal.
However, it was the player adjudged man of the match in the Champions League final and who was Ronaldo's opposing captain in the Nations League decider who should finally put defenders on the European map.
Van Dijk is the latest product of Liverpool's hugely successful ploy to sign all of Southampton's best players.
Just a couple of years after signing a six-year contract with the Saints, the Dutchman was off to Anfield for one of the those "undisclosed fee"s widely disclosed as being £75 million.
He ensured instant immortality by scoring a late FA Cup winner against bitter Merseyside rivals Everton.
Van Dijk has since transformed Liverpool's defensive record - an impressive achievement considering he spent much of that time playing alongside Dejan Lovren.
The number of league goals conceded by the Reds fell by more than half from 46 to 22 as the team lost just once in 38 matches last season, amassed 97 points but, perhaps most impressively of all, failed to win the English Premier League title.
Not only did van Dijk became the first defender since Chelsea's John Terry in 2005 to win the PFA player of the year award but, according to EPL stats, he went through the entire campaign without being dribbled past.
In the EPL's popular fantasy league, the only two defenders considered more valuable than van Dijk are Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold - the Liverpool full-backs given free-reign to rampage upfield knowing that their reliable centre-half has their backs.
In addition to providing such an impenetrable barrier, van Dijk rarely concedes penalties (normally part of a defender's job description) and chips in with a regular supply of set-piece headed goals.
Furthermore, like most Dutch, he speaks better English than the English - not that bilinguality is among the award's judging criteria.
The award winner will be announced in Monaco on August 29.
The judges need to take their Ronaldo-Messi blinkers off and take a look at the third most-famous Virgil in history - after some Roman poet and the phenomenally-eyebrowed pilot of Thunderbird 2.
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