Messi beats Ronaldo to top awards
ESPN FC: A distracting debate
Cristiano Ronaldo has been chosen as the Spanish top flight’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ for the 2012-13 season, but Lionel Messi has won the more prestigious awards for La Liga’s best player and best attacker after having guided Barcelona to the title despite recurring injury issues.
Diego Simeone, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, Iker Casillas, Thibaut Courtois, Asier Illarramendi and Gerard Deulofeu were among those also honoured at a ceremony in Madrid on Monday night, which took place almost six months after the 2012-13 campaign ended.
Messi won the official ‘Player of the Season’ award, and also beat off competition from former Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo and Ronaldo to take the prize for Best Liga BBVA Forward.
The Real Madrid attacker suggested in his speech while accepting the MVP prize that he would have preferred to have taken the overall best player award.
“It is an honour and privilege to receive this great award for the Most Valuable Player -- it motivates me to keep working harder,” Ronaldo said. “I am proud to be in the Liga BBVA. For me, this is the best league in the world and I am at the best club in the world. How could I not be happy? Hopefully next year I can win the award for the best player. I will be working towards it.”
Messi, currently back in Argentina recovering from his troublesome run of muscle injuries, stuck to the script during his speech via video link to the ceremony.
"I would like to thank the LFP and the Liga BBVA for this prize,” Messi said. “It is a recognition of the [Barca players’] work all year and without them I would not have scored these goals.”
Iniesta, who saw off Madrid’s Isco and former Sevilla winger Jesus Navas to take the best attacking midfielder prize, remembered the role played by former coach Tito Vilanova and defender Eric Abidal in Barca’s emotional last campaign.
"I would like to thank all the people who valued my work last season,” he said. “This award is worth more because last season was a difficult one for people like Tito and Abidal.”
Atletico Madrid were also recognised, with Simeone winning the award for La Liga's best coach.
“This is my first prize as a coach in Europe,” Simeone said. “I would like to thank my players for their effort and commitment. They have allowed me to receive this award. I would like to share it with my coaching staff, and to dedicate it to my children.”
Illarramendi, Madrid’s summer signing from Real Sociedad, also won two awards, for best defensive midfielder -- ahead of Benat of Athletic Bilbao and Javi Fuego of Valencia -- and for being the ‘breakthrough’ player of the last campaign, ahead of Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno and Leo Baptistao of Atletico.
Madrid defender Ramos saw off competition from Barca’s Jordi Alba and Inigo Martinez of Real Sociedad to be named the best defender.
The award for best goalkeeper went to Thibaut Courtois, ahead of Barca’s Victor Valdes and Malaga’s Willy Caballero, but it was decided to give the LFP Fair Play trophy to Madrid captain Casillas, who has had limited game time since a clash of personalities with then Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
Casillas did not attend, with Blancos president Florentino Perez collecting the accolade on his behalf.
“Casillas is deserving of many awards,” said Perez, with whom the goalkeeper has also reportedly had issues. “But this one, which recognises his sportsmanship, is indisputable.”
Everton attacker Gerard Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, was named as the Segunda Division’s best player of 2012-13. Elche coach Fran Escriba and defender Edu Albacar, Almeria goalkeeper Esteban and Villarreal midfielder Bruno were also recognised, as were attackers Charles, who is now with Celta Vigo, Vitolo, now of Sevilla, and Chuli, who now plays for Betis.