Another season is drawing to a close in Europe, and the time arrives for the first reprise in Hasta El Gol Siempre‘s brief existence. Ladies and gentlemen, the second annual Hasta El Gol Siempre Award for Best Argentine Footballer in a Foreign League is upon us! Voting for the 2008 award opens as soon as this post is published, so read on for a few suggestions and email your votes to the address at the bottom of this post…
Lionel Messi (pictured above playing for Barcelona against Levante back in September) won the inaugural award with a collosal 50% of the votes, but since then HEGS‘s readership has increased massively and Leo has spent a fair bit of the season just gone on the sidelines. Nonetheless he’s still been far and away Barcelona’s best performer, and although his side were eliminated by Manchester United in the semi final of the UEFA Champions League, most impartial observers agreed that he’d given the lie to claims that Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best player at present.
Perhaps another Argentine attacker who featured in those two semi final matches has impressed you more, though. Carlos Tevez stepped up from West Ham to Old Trafford with some critics suggesting he couldn’t play alongside Wayne Rooney, and has not only starred next to the Englishman, but proven a more than able replacement, scoring some vital goals in the run-in for United. Liverpool and Javier Mascherano‘s elimination by Chelsea means that if he plays (and he surely will), Tevez will be the only Argentine representative in this season’s Champions League final in Moscow. Carlitos finished second in last year’s poll, and who’s to say he doesn’t deserve to go on further this season?
Javier Zanetti, who finished third in the 2007 poll, has captained Inter to a second straight on-the-pitch Scudetto, and this year they’ve done it with Juventus in the same division. British readers who’ve experienced the dubious pleasures of Channel Five’s Serie A coverage this season might be more inclined, now they’ve seen a bit of their play, to vote for Zanetti or any of his 573 compatriots at Inter (Cambiasso, Cruz, Samuel, Crespo, and so on and so forth). Alternatively, perhaps you’ve been impressed by Ezequiel Lavezzi, who in one match managed to score as many hat-tricks as Diego Maradona did in an entire career with Napoli.
Elsewhere there have been vital contributions to Real Madrid’s latest title win from Gonzalo Higuaín, who’s gone from vilification this time last year to hero as scorer of the late winner on Sunday against Osasuna that bagged the merengues the title. ‘Pipita is already part of Real Madrid history,’ declared Marca, who at the start of the season compared Wesley Sneijder favourably to Alfredo Di Stéfano. ‘He always pops up at the most vital moments.’ He was useless when I saw Madrid back in October, but he’s clearly improved a bit since then.
In Portugal, Lucho González and Lisandro López have once again been key players in Porto’s latest title win, with Lisandro finishing top of the scorers charts and Lucho, who was linked with Valencia in January, now talked about as a possible replacement for Deco in Barcelona’s expected Big Summer Clearout. Fernando Cavenaghi, back in from the footballing cold of Spartak Moscow at last, moved to western Europe and has scored so many goals that his side, Bordeaux, are still in with a shot of toppling Lyon from the Ligue Un summit – they’re two points back with two matches remaining. He’s currently joint-third in the goalscoring charts, with 14.
Greece (Olympiakos’s title winners), Mexico (Vuoso, Delgado et al) and even Brazil – where Lionel Messi’s cousin Maxi Biancucchi scored the winner in the legendary Fla-Flu earlier way back in August last year (last season in Brazil, true, but since the 2007 award was handed out) – have all also witnessed Argentine heroics in their domestic leagues, whilst MLS is now home to a number of ex-pats, including Marcelo Gallardo and Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Or maybe you just think Martín Demichelis‘s contribution to Bayern’s latest German title win has been unfairly overlooked by everyone. Or (as did enough people to put him into last year’s top five) that Julio Arca should be playing in at least one of his many capacities for the selección on the strength of his displays for Middlesbrough.
Whoever you’d like to see get the award, you can nominate them now. Nominations will be open for a couple of weeks (I’m being approximate at the moment but will post on the site two or three days before closing them), after which the top five will be announced, and you’ll be asked to re-submit your votes (you can change your mind but I won’t be assuming you want to vote for the same again unless you tell me so!).
The Rules: Players must have spent the whole of the current European season at their current club (so Javier Mascherano, who joined Liverpool in January 2006, wasn’t elligible last year but is this season, for example), Musn’t have chosen to play for another country (Pernía, Camoranesi, we’re looking at you) and, obviously, must be Argentine. Inside those guidelines, you can nominate whoever you fancy. To vote, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘HEGS Awards’ in the subject line and the name of your choice – just one please!