Friday, July 17, 2009

HEGS/MA Award for Best Argentine Abroad 2009

The votes have been counted, and after the Copa Libertadores was decided on Wednesday night, it’s time to reveal the real question all of Latin America wants answering: who, in the opinions of the readers of Hasta El Gol Siempre and Mundo Albiceleste, has been the best Argentine footballer playing in a non-Argentine league over the last season? I think you’ll find the answer very surprising. Ladies and gentlemen, drumroll please…

Lio looks delighted with our award, doesn't he?

Lio looks delighted with our award, doesn't he?

Lionel Andrés MESSI is the HEGS / MA Best Argentine Abroad for 2008-2009. I told you you’d be surprised. After winning the inaugural HEGS award two years ago, and being pushed into third by Carlos TEVEZ and Sergio AGÜERO last year, Lio is back on top in 2009, thanks to an astonishing season with FC Barcelona.

After his early seasons at Barcelona were wracked by injury, there were two questions being asked about MESSI this time last year: first, how good might he be if he were ever able to have a full season without a significant time out injured; secondly, after the hormone injections that some felt had damaged his legs by forcing him to grow beyond his body’s limits, would that ever happen?

2008-2009 gave us an emphatic ‘yes’ to the second question, and a spectacular demonstration in reply to the first. RONALDINHO having been sold to AC Milan, there was much discussion about who to give the coveted number 10 shirt to. Any other club would have gone for a big-name signing. Barcelona, knowing stability was required, handed it to 21-year-old MESSI. He never looked back.

The story of Barcelona’s season, the most successful in the history of Spanish club football, is already known by everyone reading this, but still, let’s revisit a few of the numbers: champions of the league, Copa del Rey and European Cup (the first Spanish side to win the Treble); one-hundred-and-five goals in the league alone, with the first-choice front three of MESSI, Samuel ETO'O and Thierry HENRY scoring 72 between them – more than any other club bar second-placed Real Madrid – and one hundred exactly in all competitions.

All season long, MESSI has been one of the key men. Admirers of the midfielders’ art point towards Andrés INIESTA’s craft, whilst ETO'O continues to be one of the finest out-and-out goalscorers on the planet and the defence… well, they haven’t got a defence, but they conceded fewer than anyone else in La Liga anyway. Even so, MESSI has been the man who summed up Barcelona this season, because without much of a change in personnel, and coming off the back of an implosion the previous term, Barcelona came of age.

MESSI scored twenty-three goals in La Liga (fourth top scorer), nine in the European Cup (top scorer) and six in the Copa del Rey (third top scorer). Thirty-eight goals in fifty matches in all competitions, including Barcelona’s 5,000th ever in La Liga on the 1st of February away to Racing de Santander in a 2-1 win. Those goals started with a penalty against Racing de Santander in Camp Nou, and ended with a header – of all things! – against Manchester United in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Now 22, Lionel MESSI is only a few months older than Diego MARADONA was when he signed for Barcelona. There are many who would suggest he’s a better player than MARADONA was at that age – the question now is only how good he might become. Five years into his Barcelona career, we’ve finally had that uninterrupted season from Lionel MESSI. It’s been a lot of fun.

Every goal Lionel MESSI scored for FC Barcelona during the 2008-2009 season:

In joint second place in the award were the other three nominees, who garnered a vote each in the final round: Pablo ZABALETA of Manchester City, Christian GIMÉNEZ of Pachuca, and Diego MILITO of Genoa (now with Internazionale).

Due to its impending relaunch, we’ve been unable to contact Lionel MESSI’s website to see if they’ve got any comment on the award as yet. When I’m able to, I’ll make any reply I get known.

61 comments:

Alex Camacho said...

The Guardian has this sports blog where they list the best team goals ever and do not include Argentina v. Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. A number of the commenters claim this is ludicrous, which of course it is:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/jul/17/joy-of-six-great-team-goals

Alex Camacho

Sebastian said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Alex. I saw that too earlier today and I couldn't believe it.

That 'Joy of Six' column is pretty good, though. I always read it and I enjoy it.

The writer always include things from around the world and he doesn't spend all his time writing only about stuff that happen in England.

This time, however, I think he ignored THE BEST team goal ever scored in the history of the World Cup. Period.

It happens. I'm sure he hit his forehead the minute he read the first comment from a reader reminding him of that CAMBIASSO goal.

Anonymous said...

In a friendly today, the MLS side Seattle Sounders played Chelsea. Chelsea won the game 2-0. I caught the game in the second half on the tube. I got to see one our many prodigies Franco Di Santo play. And I have to say I am really really impressed. For his size he is very fast. He had 2 great chances to score but last second scrambles by the Sounders took away his goals. For a player that stands around 6'4 I think MAYBE only Messi is faster with the ball. He has a lot of great pace and is pretty good on the ball. If he does he get the chance to play for Chelsea regularly or moves to Blackburn on loan and has a break out season maybe a call up will be necessary. Granted it is one showing, but I really liked his speed and touches. Just wondering if anybody else got a chance to watch the game and what their thoughts are on Di Santo?

Jack!

Allan said...

Lionel Messi has now won the World Youth Cup, Olympic Gold, Spanish Cup, La Liga and European Champions League. There is only one trophy missing and we all know what it is.

2010 South Africa. The King will be formally crowned.

Alex Camacho said...

Back to the Guardian article, actually Sebastian he references the Cambiasso goal and specifically says it was very overrated. That is what borthered me; not that he forggot it but actually argued the goal wasn't good.

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