La Liga best player announced... and it isn’t Messi or Ronaldo

France's Antoine Griezmann © Kai Pfaffenbach
Antoine Griezmann was the surprise winner of the best La Liga player title at the award ceremony on Monday night, beating usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The diminutive Atletico Madrid forward enjoyed a strong 2015/16 season in which he scored 22 goals for his club side to help them to the UEFA Champions League final, where they were beaten by city rivals Real Madrid.

He was also instrumental on the international scene, firing France into the final of the UEFA European Championships in July, where they were beaten by Portugal.

The award ceremony was boycotted by Barcelona players, who refused to attend in protest at manager Luis Enrique not being considered for the best coach award.

Barcelona captain Messi and Real ace Ronaldo have long been at the centre of a title tug-of-war for personal accolades, most notably in the FIFA Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best player in the world.

The gong has been given to either player in each of the six years since its inception in 2009, but Griezmann’s win last night has raised questions as to whether the award will be won again by either of the two Ballon d’Or veterans or if it could be in fresh hands this time.

Ronaldo has been named as favorite for the award owing to an outstanding 2015/2016 season which saw him grab the trophies Griezmann fell short of winning: the UEFA Champions League, his third win, and the UEFA Euro 2016 championship.

The 30-man list of nominees include Ronaldo’s Real Madrid wing partner Gareth Bale as well as Griezmann’s Atletico teammates Diego Godin and Koke, and Messi’s strike partners at Barcelona Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr.

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