Leo Messi and Marca director Juan Ignacio Gallardo

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi said La Liga is “more competitive than ever” and he hopes it stays that way as he collected the Trofeo Di Stefano for the division’s best player in 2017-18.

Messi said this when he received the award from Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Monday, while also being presented with the Trofeo Pichichi for his 34-goal haul last season.

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He said: “It’s good that the league is more competitive than ever, nothing is easy, anyone can beat anyone and I hope it continues like that for some time.

“I am always more interested in the importance that goals have rather than how good they look.”

The Di Stefano trophy, awarded to the best player of the season, also went to Messi and he was presented with a genius work of art made by French artist Michael Raivand.

Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo Alaves and Espanyol are all above perennial title challengers Real Madrid – who sit four points off the top in the table – and Messi welcomes the more open nature of the division.