With the conclusion of the 2017/18 La Liga season, we’re handing out of end-of-season awards and this time we look at the young player of the season.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)
Valencia are desperate to tie up a permanent deal for the Paris Saint-Germain loanee and it’s no wonder after the season he’s had.
The 21-year-old heads to the World Cup with Portugal as one of their most talented assets and he has formed the fulcrum of an attack which has catapulted Los Che into the top-four.
Aside from his nine assists and five goals, he’s married piercing pace with technical ability and his rocket right-foot is all part of a packaged player who can at times be an unstoppable forward.
Europe’s top sides will be among those keeping an eye on him in Russia this summer.
Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo)
Uruguay’s strike force this summer is frightening when you consider Edinson Cavani (28), Luis Suarez (24), Christian Stuani (21) and a 21-year-old Gomez (17) have all been in hot league form this season. Gomez is one of the best young goalscorers in Europe and scored against both Barcelona and Real Madrid this season.
Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad)
One of the best young wingers in La Liga, the 21-year-old left-footed wideman has been linked with Napoli which is no surprise given the strides he’s made this season. La Real have been bitterly disappointing this season but his 12 goals – doubling his best tally in 2015/16 – are the second-highest for his side, while his five assists the joint-most.
Carlos Soler (Valencia)
The 21-year-old operates on the opposite side of Guedes for Valencia, but has been just as impressive at times. He’s not quite had the same consistency, even dipping out of the side midway through the season but he is one of the most promising young Spanish stars and rumours are Manchester United are interested in the explosive midfielder.
With the conclusion of the 2017/18 La Liga season, we’re handing out of end-of-season awards and this time we look at the player of the season.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The Argentine is so supremely talented he makes you want to select someone else and place him in a category of his own.
He is the chief reason for Barcelona’s title success this season and the very fact he was missing for their only league defeat of the campaign to Levante embodies his importance.
He has appeared emboldened by the Ballon d’Or defeat to Ronaldo last year and while his Portuguese nemesis dropped off at the start of the campaign, he ascended to impossibly new heights. Indeed, he plundered against Real, scored a stunning free-kick to defeat Atletico, notched hat-tricks to demolish Deportivo and Espanyol with four arriving against Eibar.
In terms of goals, this was actually Ronaldo’s joint second-worst tally since joining Real Madrid. But considering 22 of his 26 goals have arrived since the turn of the year, he more than warrants a spot in behind his arch-rival Messi.
Real Betis have been the most entertaining side in La Liga this term and at the heart of their enterprising style was a 36-year-old Joaquin. Operating as a No10, the dynamism has remained and to his credit, so too, has the legs. He’s still one of the most talented Spanish players in La Liga.
With the 2017/18 La Liga season now over, we take a look at who makes our team of the season.
LA LIGA TEAM OF THE SEASON: 4-3-1-2
Marc-Andre ter Stegen;Antonio Barragan, Samuel Umtiti, Diego Godin, Jordi Alba; Asier Illarramendi, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Sergio Busquets; Joaquin; Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi
GK – Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
For a long time Barcelona’s unbeaten record was preserved thanks to the heroics of their German stopper. He’s emerged this season as one of the world’s premier stoppers with his incredible athleticism and sublime passing under pressure marking him out as an instrumental figure for the champions this season.
RB – Antonio Barragan (Real Betis)
Middlesbrough should hang their heads in shame for not getting the best out of Barragan. The 30-year-old right-back returned to Spain this season with resurgent Real Betis and has shone in Quique Setien’s build-from-the-back system. Granted, he’s operated as a wing-back as Setien deploys a 3-5-1-1 shape but he’s been influential with six assists.
CB – Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)
A tower of strength blended with silky feet, the Frenchman has been Barca boss Ernesto Valverde’s on-pitch lieutenant this season. He’s had to contend with changing partners at the heart of defence this season but has remained a consistent performer. Barca’s defensive record speaks for itself and Umtiti is a big reason for it.
CB – Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
It’s hard to avoid picking Barca’s entire backline considering their invincibility but it was actually Atletico who conceded the least amount of goals this season. Godin has been outstanding again, cementing his reputation as one of the world’s best defenders. It’s hard to pinpoint one quality, but he’s a natural leader and a nuisance for any attacker.
LB – Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Alba’s connection with Messi might be one of the most lethal in world football. He’s laid on five assists for the Argentine this season and the full-back’s telepathic ability to find his teammate mimics Messi’s proficiency for finding the net. Beyond that, Alba’s boundless energy and sweet left-foot has given Barca crucial width and quality crosses.
CM – Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad)
From the ashes of his disappointing Real Madrid stint, the midfielder has resurrected his career with La Real and has again been brilliant. He’s unquestionably the standout in a distinctly average mid-table side, scoring seven and assisting five this season. No player has passed, tackled or intercepted more than Illarramendi for Sociedad this term as well.
CM – Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia)
That the Valencia giant is not going to the World Cup with France says more about Les Bleus’ talent stock than it does Kondogbia because he’s arguably been the most complete midfield in Spain this season. A contrasting player to the one at Inter, he’s been a monster in ballet shoes, bullying opponents off the ball before dribbling past defenders and playing weighted passes.
CM – Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
You cannot mistake Busquet’s incredible consistency for ordinariness. His class has been commonplace this season, a midfield metronome and ticking heartbeat of a blistering Barca side. He is the master of tempo and control, his pristine passing allowing the attacking talents ahead of him to really flourish.
AM – Joaquin (Real Betis)
The mind says Celta Vigo’s 20-goal striker Iago Aspas deserves a spot in the XI but the heart screams for Joaquin. It is impossible not to love the 36-year-old at Betis and he’s been an intoxicating force in the No10 role for Quique Setien. The dynamism has remained but so, too, the legs and he’s still one of the most talented Spanish players around.
ST – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
A Jekyll and Hyde campaign for the Portuguese but the second-half of his season has been otherworldly. Doubt him at your peril, because the criticism appears to be his fuel and he’s motored to a staggering 22 league goals in 2018 to finish the season with 26 in total. Los Blancos have been far from their best this season but that review cannot be levelled at Ronaldo.
ST- Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Barcelona’s best player this season and every season. The Argentine has been simply absurd, practically leading the statistics in two positions with his deeper role creating chances while his finishing prowess has lifted him to the Pichichi Trophy with 34 goals scored. Goals home and away against Real Madrid are naturally the standout from another outstanding season.