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Leo beats Ronaldo to awards

Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? The debate rages on season after season, but in Spain there has only ever been one winnerů until now.

For the past four years, Messi had come away with both the Best Player and Best Forward prizes at La Liga’s annual awards ceremony, while his Portuguese rival was forced to make do with a runners-up spot.

Something had to change — and it did. For the first time this year, the men behind the ceremony decided to invent the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

Ordinarily you would assume this would go to the recipient of the Best Player. But the organisers saw it as the perfect way to reward both of the world’s best players.

Which explains why Messi made it five years in a row picking up Best Player and Best Forward beating his Portuguese rival, yet Ronaldo collected the inaugural MVP award for La Liga’s 2012-13 season.

“It is an honour and a privilege to receive this award,” said the Real Madrid star. “I have to thank my teammates and Real and all the people behind this award such as my family. I will try to keep fit to win more prizes at a collective and individual level.”

Fellow Real player Asier Illarramendi followed Messi’s lead with two awards, Best Midfielder and Breakthrough Player, while Sergio Ramos won Best Defender for the second year in a row.

Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan at Atletico Madrid, won the Best Goalkeeper prize, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta claimed the Best Attacking Midfielder award, and Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid was named Best Coach after his side won the Copa del Rey and finished third in La Liga.

Meanwhile, Messi began the second phase of recovery from the injury that has sidelined the Barcelona forward until next month with a physiotherapy session at Argentina’s training complex on Monday.