Lionel Messi, De Ligt Pick Up Champions League Awards

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While the Champions League final didn’t live up to its billing, this season’s edition as a whole served up plenty of excitement and drama.

We’ve also witnessed some outstanding individual displays along the way with a few youngsters really coming of age while established stars have delivered as well.

After our end-of-the-season awards for Europe’s top-five leagues, we’re now honouring the Player of the Year and Breakthrough Player of the Year for the Champions League.

Check out the awardees for the La LigaSerie APremier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 here.

Season report

Barcelona as a whole were rather unremarkable this season. That they retained their La Liga crown and made the final four in the Champions League is testament to the phenomenal abilities of their seasoned talisman Lionel Messi. The Argentine ran the show for his side and finished as the competition’s top scorer for a fifth time, bagging 12 goals on this occasion, four more than Robert Lewandowski in second place.

He may not boast the electric pace he did a couple of years ago but he remains peerless when running with the ball, completing more dribbles (35) than anyone else in the tournament. His close control, passing range and vision accounted for the bulk of Barcelona’s creativity. With three assists as well, Messi directly contributed to more than half of his side’s goals in Europe.

His consistent orchestration of proceedings and timely moments of magic took the Catalans to within minutes of a final berth only to be let down by his team-mates.

Best performance: Brace in 3-0 first leg win against Liverpool

Putting three past Liverpool’s defence was no mean feat and Messi was the chief architect of this victory. His superb solo run set up Luis Suarez who struck the crossbar before he swept up the rebound. A spectacular free-kick made it 3-0 while he also laid it on a plate for Ousmane Dembele to add a fourth on the break, but the Frenchman wasted what could’ve been the goal that would’ve taken Barca to the final before Liverpool’s incredible revival at Anfield.

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