BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 22: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga match between Malaga CF and FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on January 22, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona 4-1. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
With each of the eight categories now posted on the site, it’s time to reveal our first winner – as if the title doesn’t give it away! First of all, thanks to all those who voted – all 418 of you. It was a great turnout compared to previous polls on the site, and the vast majority of you voted for a worthy winner: Lionel Messi was clearly the Best Player of the past season, and perhaps of any other season. His record-breaking haul of 73 goals and 29 assists is more than some teams manage in an entire season, although even they fail to tell the whole story. Lionel Messi is far more than a goal-scorer, far more than a team player – he is the hub of the team, a man who excels at everything he sets his mind to.
As the season started, few could comprehend how he could improve upon his 2010/11 totals of 53 goals and 24 assists, yet he did. Some thought that he could score more goals, but his assist tally would have to fall. It did the exact opposite. No matter how high Lionel Messi sets the bar, he still manages to push it closer to the heavens with each passing year, so much so that you would be forgiven for believing that he is indeed a God among men, on the football pitch at least.
Despite Barcelona "falling" to a second place finish, Messi found the time to contribute 66 goals, a total that eclipses all other teams in La Liga, bar Real Madrid. The Argentine finished the league season with a chance conversion ratio of around 25%, some 7.5% higher than Cristiano Ronaldo, 5% better than Colombian goal-machine Falcao and 4% better than Roberto Soldado, Fernando Llorente and Karim Benzema. If that wasn’t enough he played over two times as many accurate through balls as his nearest challenger and supplied the second-most assists behind Mesut Ozil.
Messi was also the best player in the UEFA Champions League, scoring the most goals, tying for joint-most assists and also completing the highest number of through balls. While he couldn’t cap off either competition with a winner’s medal, he so very nearly dragged his club to victory, almost devoid of help from anyone else when it mattered most. Dare I mention his vastly improved performances on the international stage too? Let’s just say there is no longer a Messi of Barcelona and a Messi of Argentina; all that remains is a single individual, who at just 25 has accomplished more than virtually any other player in the history of the sport. A single individual who continues to improve as a player; a single individual who might just be the best of all-time.
Breakdown of the Voting:
1st: Lionel Messi - 88%
2nd: Andres Iniesta - 4%
3rd: Xavi - 4%
4th: Javier Mascherano - 3%
5th: Sergio Busquets - 2%