Lionel Messi Wins Di Stefano Award: What's Next for the Argentine Superstar?

Manuel TraqueteSenior Analyst IJune 2, 2011

The current football landscape
The current football landscape

It hardly constitutes news nowadays when Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona wins another individual award. Despite always putting his team's success first, the Argentine's supreme ability dictates that he also racks up endless individual awards.

Following a brilliant domestic season where he led Barcelona to another league title, Lionel Messi won the Di Stefano award for La Liga Player of the Season, an award attributed by none other than MARCA, a newspaper renowned for its bias towards Real Madrid. But even the "enemy" is forced to acknowledge Messi's superiority. It is just too evident to be denied. In four editions of this award, Messi has won three, all consecutive, after Raul bizarrely won its inaugural edition in 2008.

Once again, Messi was consistently brilliant, outshining everyone else in the league, making this a fully deserved award. The podium was completed by Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, who justified his place with a record-breaking season, and Messi's teammate, Xavi Hernandez. It was truly a star-studded podium, led by the world's best player.

Messi isn't even 24 yet, but he has the world at his feet; he was won 15 club trophies with Barcelona, including five leagues and three Champions Leagues, he's been the Champions League top scorer three seasons in a row (a record), and is already a top-10 scorer in the competition's history.

Come January, he will win a record-equaling third consecutive Ballon d'Or. We have to go back to Ronaldo to find a player who achieved so much at such a young age. Unfortunately, Ronaldo's career was plagued by injury and he was unable to keep his incredible standards. Messi, on the other hand, doesn't look like he's slowing down any time soon. If anything, he's been improving and adding new dimensions to his game with each passing year.

But there are still new challenges to keep Messi motivated and focused. For starters, he has the Copa America in July. Many critics are quick to point out that Messi has never managed to reproduce his Barcelona form with Argentina. What a great chance to start correcting that; the stage seems set for Messi, in his home country no less, to lead Argentina to the title before weaving his magic again at Camp Nou next season.

Should Messi lead Argentina to the final, there's a chance Guardiola will allow him to miss the Spanish Super Cup to get proper rest (although knowing Messi he won't want to miss the chance to play against Real Madrid). But that's something to be discussed later; right now, after a memorable season with Barcelona where he cemented his status as the player who defines this generation, Messi's attention is all turned towards the Copa America and leading his country to glory.