Barcelona: Lionel Messi wins La Liga award

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been handed La Liga’s Player of the Month award for the first time in the two-and-a-half-season history of the prize.

Messi – crowned the best player in the world for the fifth time at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January – has ended his wait for the individual La Liga award following an impressive month.

Despite suffering a hamstring problem midway through January, the Argentina star scored six goals in as many matches to maintain Barca’s place atop La Liga.

The 28-year-old follows Neymar in winning the award – the Brazilian recognised for the first time in November – with the pair the only Barca players to win the prize since its conception prior to the 2013-14 season.

“While it may be almost impossible to believe, Messi has finally been named the La Liga Player of the Month,” read Barca’s website on Friday.

“The award has been given out since the beginning of the 2013-14 season and, this January, after 22 other players had been deemed more worthy in past editions, it was finally given to the world’s best player.”

Messi was rested along with Neymar and Luis Suarez for Barca’s 1-1 draw with Valencia in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Wednesday.

A Messi hat-trick helped Barca to a 7-0 first-leg advantage before he underwent medical tests at the start of this week due to renal colic, which kept him out of the FIFA Club World Cup final against River Plate.

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