Sportsmail picks top 10 men of the year after dramatic LaLiga season

Three Atletico Madrid title winners, two outstanding performers from Zinedine Zidane’s runners-up, plus a future star at Barcelona – Sportsmail picks the top 10 men of the year after a dramatic LaLiga campaign

  • An exciting season in Spain saw Diego Simeone’s Atletico triumph on the last day
  • The Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly ended for the first time in seven campaigns 
  • Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Real Betis also impressed in qualifying for Europe
  • Sportsmail has selected its top 10 list of most influential players and managers 

An exhilarating season in Spain saw Atletico Madrid break the Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly for the first time in seven seasons after a dramatic 2-1 comeback win on the final day against Valladolid saw them pip Zinedine Zidane’s side to the LaLiga title.

In the wake of a dramatic denouement which could mark the last game in charge for Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman and Los Blancos boss Zidane, Sportsmail picks its 10 men of the year from across the entire campaign. 

There are three from the Champions, two outstanding performers from the runners-up, not forgetting honourable mentions for the overachievers plus a young coach and a young defender who are going to both be huge in the coming seasons.

Sportsmail has picked its top 10 men of the year after Atletico won LaLiga title on the final day

Luis Suarez, unwanted by Barcelona, scored 21 goals to fire Atletico to championship victory

Formation: 4-3-3

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

Defenders: Kieran Trippier (Atletico), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla).

Midfielders: Marcos Llorente (Atletico), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Pedri (Barcelona).

Forwards Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luis Suarez (Atletico), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid).

Luis Suarez

Even he couldn’t have written such a perfect script. 

With 88 minutes gone of Atletico Madrid’s penultimate game of the season they were heading for a home draw that would hand the advantage back to Real Madrid, and Luis Suarez scored. 

Fast forward to the last game of the season and they were about to throw it away again, and Suarez scored. 

His 21 goals were the difference between them winning the league and not. 

Too old, fat, slow, expensive and close to Messi were justifications whispered in the corridors of the Nou Camp as Barcelona decided to ditch him, not caring if he joined a rival. 

He had the last laugh.

Kieran Trippier

The Bury Beckham winning LaLiga just as one of his boyhood heroes did back in 2007.

Trippier was massively important for Atletico.  

It’s no coincidence their alarming mid-season wobble came when he was serving his FA ban for breaking rules on betting. 

He goes from unwanted at Spurs to top of the tree in Spain in just two years.

Luka Modric

So fitting that Modric should score the last goal of Real Madrid’s season. 

As all around him stumbled through the exhausting campaign, 35-year-old Croatian Modric never tired. 

When he took Karim Benzema’s cross down on his chest and smashed it past Geronimo Rulli two minutes into stoppage time, the only thing that stopped it being the goal that won the league was Suarez’s goal against Valladolid.

Former Tottenham right back Kieran Trippier was hugely important for Diego Simeone’s side


He looked like an extra from a production of Oliver Twist at times with the socks rolled down the bandy legs but he was consistently brilliant emerging as someone on exactly the same wavelength of Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s midfield. 

He played over 50 games in what was his first season and although the 18-year-old ran out of steam towards the end, he has shown the world what a future he has.

Manuel Pellegrini

The former Manchester City manager got very little of what he wanted in the transfer window last summer. 

How was he expected to transform Betis with exactly the same tools as previous managers? 

Somehow he transformed them into the sixth best team in Spain and with a dramatic comeback from 2-0 to 3-2 on the last day he has them playing in the Europa League next season.

Lionel Messi

What do you mean what’s Messi doing on the list? 

Barcelona’s season fizzled out and they were left well short in the title race but Messi still managed 30 goals, picking up his eighth LaLiga top scorer prize. 

He was also mesmerising in the Copa del Rey final, inspiring Barcelona’s only trophy. And he’s staying. Which is the only good news the end of this season at Barcelona brought.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was the LaLiga top scorer despite a disappointing season for the club

Diego Simeone

He won the league for the second time in seven years and he did it with a player Barcelona didn’t want, a player Real Madrid didn’t want in Marcos Llorente, and a player Spurs didn’t want in Trippier.

And – the most Diego Simeone thing of all – he did it with the £113million club record signing Joao Felix on the bench for most of the run-in.

Simeone won his second LaLiga title for the club with a dramatic 2-1 win against Valladolid

Karim Benzema

Back in the France squad after a seven-year absence and no more than he deserved for another inspired campaign. 

His 30 goals in all competitions should have had greater reward. 

He got 22 in LaLiga and it was Real Madrid’s greatest problem that Casemiro with six goals was the next most prolific. An incredible campaign.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema netted 22 league goals in a superb campaign for the Frenchman

Xabi Alonso

It was lost in the whirlwind of final day events but Alonso got Real Sociedad’s B team promoted to Spain’s second division for next season. 

When he finally wants to leave he will probably have his pick of clubs – Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will all want him at some point in the future. 

For now he is building something very impressive at his home-town club. 

He is THE one to watch in the dug-outs over the next couple of years for sure.

Pau Torres

And from one to watch in the dugouts to one to watch on the pitch. Pau Torres has been Spain’s best defender this year and the bad news for Villarreal is that that might mean he leaves this summer. 

Several big Premier League clubs are very keen and Real Madrid would also like to sign him. 

He has one more huge game to play and if he can inspire Villarreal beating Manchester United on Wednesday then that would put them in the Champions League next season and just maybe means he stays at the club.

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