The inevitable Player of the Year recognition for Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has finally arrived. Messi was officially awarded the Ballon d’Or Tuesday for being the Player of the Year in European soccer. The prestigious award voted on by journalists and organized by France Football magazine, rewarded Messi for his amazing year which included championship campaigns in the Spanish top flight La Liga, the Spanish Copa del Rey and the biggest one of all, the UEFA Champions League.
Messi became the first Argentinian footballer to ever win the award. He did it in record fashion as well, beating out last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo by a record 240-point margin. Voters gave Messi a stunning 473 of 480 possible points in a near unanimous decision.
The season was clearly Messi’s best as a Catalan, as he led the Champions League with nine goals (including the clincher in Rome), netted 23 times domestically and added another six goals in the King’s Cup.
Messi’s incredible play has led to most fans around the world claiming him to be the best player on the planet. With his popularity and production, Barcelona recently locked up their superstar for the future by agreeing to a contract extension through 2016. The new contract includes an eye popping £228 million buy-out clause if any other club were to try and pry him away.
One other note which shows just how dominate Barcelona were last season; Ronaldo who finished second in voting, was the only non-Barcelona player in the top four. Xavi and Andres Iniesta finished third and fourth respectively.