Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has been named as the best player in LaLiga at an awards ceremony in Valencia on Monday.
France international Griezmann overcame formidable competition for the prize and won the nod over the likes of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez despite not featuring in the running for the best striker award and failing to win a place in the division’s team of the season, which was named in June.
Cristiano Ronaldo headed the list of 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or alongside Messi, Suarez and Griezman earlier on Thursday, following his successes with Real Madrid and Portugal in the Champions League and at Euro 2016 respectively, but he was surprisingly not recognised in any category at the LaLiga awards amid a somewhat contradictory collection of individual winners.
Messi, who claimed the individual LaLiga gong on six of the previous seven times it was up for grabs, pipped Barcelona top scorer and team-mate Suarez and Athletic Bilbao veteran Aritz Aduriz to the best striker prize, while Uruguay’s Suarez was recognised as LaLiga’s “World Player” despite the honours for Argentina’s Messi and France’s Griezmann.
The supporters’ award also went to Griezmann who, like the Barcelona contingent, did not attend the ceremony.
Spain’s big three of Barcelona, Madrid and Atletico Madrid were predictably dominant and took up all 11 spots in the team of the year.
Atletico’s miserly defensive work was duly recognised, with Jan Oblak and Diego Godin named as LaLiga’s best goalkeeper and best defender respectively, while their boss Diego Simeone was also honoured with his third coach of the year award in four seasons ahead of departed Villarreal chief Marcelino and Celta Vigo’s Eduardo Berizzo – Barcelona’s double-winning Luis Enrique not granted a look-in.
“It is a privilege to be here to receive this award, which would not have been possible without the help of my colleagues,” said Godin, who ended Madrid captain Sergio Ramos’ four-year grip on the prize.
Real Madrid’s Luka Modric was recognised as the top flight’s leading midfielder, beating Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets and Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano into second and third place.
Modric previously shared the award with Barca captain Andres Iniesta in 2013-14.
Madrid’s Marco Asensio was named as LaLiga’s best emerging player following an impressive loan spell at Espanyol last term.