Messi Earns Third Consecutive Golden Boot Award…

Lionel Messi is getting the boot yet again…

The 26-year-old Argentine soccer star, currently sidelined by persistent thigh muscle issues, has picked up his third European Golden Boot award.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who hopes to return for Barcelona’s first game of 2014, was presented with the award by former Blaugrana striker — and 1990 Golden Boot winner — Hristo Stoichkov at a ceremony in central Barcelona on Wednesday.

Asked by reporters at the event if he might be back to play at home on January 5 — Barca’s first game after the winter break — Messi said: “I hope so.

“The truth is I have not put a date on the return. If all goes well it will be that date, but we will see what happens. I will be back when it is supposed to happen.”

Messi, who will spend part of his recovery back at home in Argentina, said nobody wanted to rush things as the most important thing was to put an end to a frustrating last six months, during which he has suffered five similar thigh and hamstring problems.

“My objective is to return in good shape, to strengthen the body so that, God willing, I can play without injuries,” he said. “I am improving bit by bit — it does not hurt any more. I am starting to do things.”

Messi scored 46 goals in the 2012-13 season to take the European Golden Boot, which he also claimed in 2009-10, when he scored 34 goals, and in 2011-12, when he scored 50 goals.

He dedicated his latest personal trophy to teammates including Xavi Hernandez, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Jose Pinto, who were all present at the ceremony.

“It was a lot of goals, and I would not have scored them without my teammates,” he said. “Without them I would not have won this Golden Boot, nor the others. I appreciate them being here.”

Messi did not speak about the controversy surrounding the extension of this year’s Ballon d’Or voting, which some have suggested will favor Cristiano Ronaldo’s chances of winning the award.

Barca president Sandro Rosell, though, was on hand to push his club’s player’s chances.

“If people vote on what they have seen on the pitch this year, and do not put on political or media pressure, then Messi should win,” Rosell said in Mundo Deportivo. “I would vote first for Leo, second for Leo and third for Leo. Fourth, fifth and sixth would be Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Sergio] Busquets.”

Messi Named La Liga’s Best Player…

Lionel Messi is simply the best…

For the fourth year straight year, the 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star has been named best forward and best player as Spain’s Liga de Fútbol Profesional handed out awards for the 2011-2012 season.

Lionel Messi
Messi’s Futbol Club Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta was named best attacking midfielder and the squad’s captain, Carles Puyol, received the Fair Play award.

Real Madrid, which won the 2011-2012 first division title, was represented by Iker Casillas, best goalkeeper; Sergio Ramos, best defender; and Xabi Alonso, best defensive midfielder.

Best coach honors went to Pep Guardiola, who left Barça in May after four seasons highlighted by three Spanish titles and two Champions League crowns.

The award for top newcomer of the 2011-2012 campaign went to Francisco Alarcon, better known as “Isco,” of Malaga.

LFP players vote on the prizes for best player and best coach, while the awards for individual positions are decided by active LFP managers based on criteria set by a panel comprising respected former coaches.