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LaLiga MVP Messi hopes the division stays wide open

Lionel Messi said LaLiga 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.

The Barcelona superstar 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.

Messi took his LaLiga tally for 2018-19 to nine with a double in Barca's surprise 4-3 loss at home to Real Betis on Sunday, a result that saw their advantage at the summit cut to just one point.

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

"It's good that the league is like this," Messi said.

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"It's more competitive than ever, anyone beats anybody, it's good for the spectators.

"I hope it stays that way for a long time."

The 31-year-old felt no adverse effects after making his return to first-team action following an arm fracture sustained against Sevilla on October 20.

"At the beginning I was a bit scared, because I had not had much contact," admitted Messi.

"I let go a little more as the game went on and I was fine."

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak won the Trofeo Zamora for the third straight year after conceding just 22 times in 37 LaLiga outings last term.

Iago Aspas took the Trofeo Zarra for the highest-scoring Spanish player and Marcelino was presented with the Trofeo Miguel Munoz as the best coach.