Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for the first time

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi takes a free kick during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 17, 2016.   AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO / AFP / JOSEP LAGO

Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been named Spain’s La Liga Player of the Month for January – the first time he has won the monthly award.

Since the inception of the award in 2013/14 Primera Division season, 22 other players including Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo had been deemed more worthy in past editions but the five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner had not won it until last month’s.

Ronaldo has won the gong twice since it began in September 2013, as have Atletico pair Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann and Real Sociedad striker Carlos Vela.

Messi’s six goals in January came in six league games, and included a hat trick against Granada along with goals against Athletic Club, Málaga and Atlético Madrid. His season’s tally in the league now stands at 12, seven behind rival Ronaldo who is in third place behind Luis Suarez and team mate Karim Benzema.

Remarkably, Messi becomes the second Barcelona player to win the award, following Neymar’s success back in November 2015.