No defender has claimed the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, the year he lifted the World Cup with Italy, but centre-back Van Dijk is a strong contender to break the drought.
The 28-year-old shone as Liverpool won the Champions League last season and was crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year for his part in helping the Reds finish second in the Premier League.
Already a revered figure at Anfield, Van Dijk could become the club's second Ballon d'Or recipient after Michael Owen in 2001.
"If people are talking about it - you can't say it doesn't [excite you]," Van Dijk told Sky Sports.
"But it's a subject we don't have any influence on. I can't change anything right now other than get fit, stay fit and that's the situation.
"Winning something like that is a dream come true for every footballer in the world. If you don't then you just get on with it and try to perform better than last year.
"It would be fantastic and I would be very proud.
"But the main thing will be to focus on what we do all together and achieving the bigger goal - that's getting silverware with the club."
"It would be fantastic, and I would be very proud." 😎— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 23, 2019
Virgil Van Dijk says being awarded the Ballon d’Or would be a “dream come true”, but insists Liverpool winning silverware is the “bigger goal”: https://t.co/zWNicLQRqR pic.twitter.com/noY06WlKQ3
Van Dijk and Liverpool are in the United States for pre-season ahead of another gruelling campaign.
The European champions must contend with the usual domestic and Champions League commitments along with a trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup in December.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp views the demands on modern players, including regular international matches and tournaments, as unsustainable.
"It looks like nobody can imagine a week without football in the year," Klopp told reporters.
"When did that happen? A game again, a game again.
"It is difficult for the boys. Everything will be fine this season, but in the long term we have to change it. There must be breaks.
"Come on, let them go. Be brave. Don't treat every game like it is the last of a decade."