MONTE CARLO: Lionel Messi regained the crown of UEFA’s European of the Year to mark a year in which he inspired Barcelona to the treble of Champions League plus Spanish league and cup writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Messi won the inaugural award in 2011 and then saw it shift among clubmate Andres Iniesta, Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery and last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

During last season Messi broke Telmo Zarra’s record of 251 Liga goals with a hat-trick against Sevilla last November then finished as Barcelona’s leading marksman with 58 goals in all competitions, including two in the cup final victory over Bilbao.

Messi was also 10-goal joint top scorer in the Champions League along with Ronaldo and club-mate Neymar.

Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez completed the top three this time. Other nominees in the top 10 were Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea), Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona), Paul Pogba (France, Juventus), Andrea Pirlo (Italy, Juventus now New York City FC), Carlos Tevez (Argentina, Juventus Boca Juniors) and Arturo Vidal (Chile, Juventus now Bayern Munich).

The award is organised by UEFA in co-operation with the European Sports Media group which includes the likes of Kicker (Germany), Marca (Spain), Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy) and World Soccer (UK).

# # # #