Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been named as La Liga’s Player of the Month for the first time in his remarkable career.
The Argentina international was announced as the January winner of the gong on Friday after a brilliant beginning to 2016, as we can see courtesy of the division’s official Twitter feed:
As noted by his club’s official website, this is only time Messi has picked up the monthly accolade, which has been running since September 2013 and is voted for by the writers for La Liga's official website. Neymar became the first Barcelona player to win the award in November 2015.
As we can see here, courtesy of WhoScored.com, Messi has recently been in tremendous form:
Lionel Messi: Has now scored 18 goals in his last 16 apps for Barcelona #CopaDelRey— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 3, 2016
In January, he netted six goals in six league games, including a hat-trick against Granada in addition to strikes against Athletic Club, Malaga and, crucially, title rivals Atletico Madrid. The brilliant beginning to the year means despite missing two months of the season, Messi has 12 league goals for the campaign.
Although for most players on the planet these figures would make for sensational reading, for the Barcelona No. 10, they aren’t all that spectacular. Indeed, that in itself makes it extremely peculiar Messi hasn’t won this prize before.
We only need to look back to 2015, when Messi surely warranted the gong on at least one occasion. Not only did he inspire Barcelona to the league title, but he was recognised as the best player in the world for that year at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in January.
As we can see, courtesy of the MessiStats account Twitter, not only has Messi shone since 2013, when the prize came into existence, but he also starred in many seasons prior to that:
Nobody would begrudge Messi this honour, and you suspect there will be some degree of satisfaction on the player’s part to have finally clinched the accolade. However, the Argentinian has never come across as a man motivated by individual achievements.
His focus, alongside Neymar, Luis Suarez and the rest of his Barcelona team-mates, will be on winning more silverware as a collective this season. Should Messi be the driving force behind another Primera Division title for the Blaugrana, it’d be no surprise to see him honoured by the competition's sponsor, BBVA, twice in quick succession. They'd certainly be awards overdue for this great of the game.