Lionel Messi has won the most Man of the Match awards in Europe this season

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Lionel Messi has been playing football from another world this season.

Just when you think we've seen the best of Barcelona's star player, he produces another mercurial year and the 2018-19 campaign will endure as one of the greatest of his career.

Sure, he hasn't produced the same number of goals he did during his record-breaking 2012, but the sheer number of statistics that Messi is topping this season is staggering.

Aside from producing an enviable league tally of 33 goals, he has also been providing for his teammates and only Jadon Sancho can better his total of 12 assists.

Combine the two together for his overall goal contribution and Messi moves streets ahead of anybody in Europe's top five leagues.

Man of the Match awards

That's not to mention the fact he's obliterating his expected-goal statistics and has established himself as one of the best passers in the sport.

However, it could be argued that Man of the Match awards are an underrated metric for judging the world's best players, especially when they account for every detail of a performance.

There is perhaps no better MOTM system than the one you find at Whoscored.com, who call upon all their statistics to discover the highest rated player from each and every game.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-ATLETICO

Messi dominates once again

It's a slightly more accurate method than a broadcaster's co-commentator or fans on Twitter selecting the best performer, allowing the raw numbers to do the talking.

Bearing that in mind, how does Messi fare when we look at the MOTM awards? Well, just as you'd expect.

The Argentine has been considered the best player on the pitch 15 times in La Liga this season, staggering when you consider he's only made 26 starts. 

Take a look at the full top ten down below:

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 15

2. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) - 13

3. Nicolas Pepe (Lille) - 11

4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) - 9

=5. Daniel Parejo (Valencia) - 8

=5. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) - 8

=7. Alessio Cragno (Cagliari) - 7

=7. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) - 7

=9. Harry Kane (Tottenham) - 6

=9. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) - 6

Yet another statistic where Messi is number one.

Just to put the enormity of his achievement into context, he has managed to average a MOTM award every 157 minutes, less than two games' worth of time.

When you consider players can't average anything below an award every 90 minutes, Messi's numbers really are staggering and have been calculated down to every last second.

FC Barcelona v SD Eibar - La Liga

It's interesting to see Hazard - who has Europe's second best goal contribution - claim the silver medal, while Messi's eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo just misses out on the podium.

The standings are incredibly close behind the Juventus star and there is definitely time for manoeuvrability before the end of the season.

But when Messi is struggling to go two full matches without winning a MOTM award, we can't see him relinquishing top spot any time soon.

Do you think Messi will win the 2019 Ballon d'Or? Have your say in the comments section below.

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