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Guillem Balague's contenders for La Liga player of the year

May 15, 2017 11:35 AM
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Guillem Balague's contenders for La Liga player of the year

Last week we discussed the Manager of the Year contenders in La Liga and asked you to vote for the man you thought deserved the prize.

Well I can reveal Zinedine Zidane was the winner with a huge 63 per cent of the vote! He has certainly done an impressive job this season and deserves the prize.

This week we turn our attention to the La Liga player of the year award. You may notice one man in particular is missing from my list of contenders!

Yes, it's Cristiano Ronaldo. It may seem controversial but, in my opinion, despite his heroics in the Champions League this season, having scored more than ever from the quarter finals stage and in such an extraordinary fashion, his form in La Liga doesn't put him in the top five.

Ronaldo is now in physical decline. That is logical but he is transforming into one of the greatest goal-scorers ever, if not the best, but in this season, when he has finalised the transition from out wide to No 9 that started two seasons ago, we cannot ignore he has recorded the worst La Liga stats of his Real Madrid career.

In his eight seasons at Real Madrid he's never scored fewer goals, made fewer assists, taken fewer shots per game or created so few chances for team-mates.

In contrast, Lionel Messi has had another incredible year. At times he has won Barcelona games almost on his own. Few will forget that moment when he scored his 500th goal for the club with an injury-time winner in El Clasico.

Just take a look at his statistics for this season. He's the leading goal scorer in Europe and without his goals Barcelona would be 20 points worse off in La Liga. Simply, he's the best player on the planet right now.

Also on my shortlist is Messi's team-mate Neymar. And that word 'team-mate' is very important when discussing Neymar's performances this season. He has performed a selfless role.

Despite his hat-trick at Las Palmas, Neymar has only scored 13 times this season but in my mind he is now only second to Messi in terms of the world's best players. His influence in La Liga games has been huge.

He has created more chances than any other player in La Liga and is integral to Barcelona's play.

He also showed he is ready to step up when the team needed him, both in La Liga, where he has scored or assisted at least once in five of the six games Messi has missed, and in Europe, with his brilliant performance in Barcelona's miraculous comeback against PSG, scoring twice, winning a penalty and setting up the winner.

Next up is Antoine Griezmann, who has become a top player at Atletico Madrid. While this hasn't been a great season for Atletico in the league, Griezmann has continued to impress.

His all-round ability makes him a threat to any defence and for the third season in a row he will become Atletico's top scorer. He also works very hard without the ball, and is very flexible to the different tactical demands of Diego Simeone. At some point he will need to test this with a team that will have more quality around him.

The Real Madrid success story is the consequence of a very good eleven but also an amazing bench. With it being very much a team effort, it is kind of difficult to decide who has had more influence than the rest.

So far we've just looked at forwards but Marcelo has been brilliant this season and deserves his place on this list - although he's as much of an attacking threat as he is a defender!

In fact, no defender has more assists than the Brazilian in La Liga this season, and he has set up chances for his team-mates at a better rate than any other full-back.

The final name on my shortlist is Isco. The attacker has enjoyed the best season of his Real Madrid career, scoring more goals than in any other campaign - despite making his fewest starts. Perhaps unfairly, he was labelled a 'B' team player - but, with Gareth Bale out injured, Isco has played a key role in the second half of the season.

Only Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata have scored more La Liga goals for Real Madrid in 2017. But as well as those goals he's scored Isco's other major strength this season has been the way he's linked the attack.

Despite starting just 16 games, only three Real Madrid players have made more assists and the fact Real Madrid average 3.1 goals per game when he starts compared with two and a half when he doesn't, shows his presence brings the best out of the team's forwards.

Isco, by popping up across the field, has given Real Madrid important possession in attack but also provided key moments which could be crucial come the end of the season.

Also read: Moses, Others Up For Chelsea Player Of The Year Award


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