Long-term HEGS readers will remember that in 2007, 2008 and 2009 I ran an award to find the Best Argentine Abroad according to my readers. This year, in an attempt to widen the voting, the award (which in 2009 was the HEGS/Mundo Albiceleste Award) becomes the Hand Of Pod award. You can hear myself, the Dans Australian and English, and Seba, discussing the awards on the 22nd episode of Hand Of Pod. There are no nominations this year – only some suggested candidates, and a free-for-all vote (but only one name each, please). Take a look at some of the player videos below from 2010-2011, and vote for whoever you like – it doesn’t have to be a player listed here but should be one who’s a) not declared for another national side, and b) played for his current non-Argentine club for the whole of the (European) 2010-11 period. Votes should be emailed to awards [at] hastaelgolsiempre.com.
The Adelaide United player – formerly of Unión de Santa Fe and Newell’s Old Boys – is a surprise frontrunner four days after voting opened, and has been the outstanding player (of any nationality) in the A-League this season, winning the Johnny Warren Medal for exactly that reason. An enganche thriving in a league which has precious few, and having toughened up his game since arriving in a league which is far more physical than its Argentine equivalent. Weighing in with nine goals and eight assists from 29 matches, he’s had reported interest from J-League and MLS clubs as well.
Internazionale’s Captain Fantastic, a 37-year-old who still runs like a 20-year-old, Zanetti would’ve been a real contender for last year’s award, if Seba and I hadn’t both been too busy to ever organise it. This season hasn’t been quite as good for Inter – although they did end it by clinching the Coppa Italia – but Zanetti has been as solid, unselfish and hard-working as ever. During 2010-11, he hit three milestones: he scored against Tottenham Hotspur in October, thus becoming the oldest player to score in the Champions League (13 years after his previous European Cup goal), and later in the season he set two appearance landmarks. On the 19th January, he passed Giuseppe Bergomi’s record to become the player with the most Serie A appearances in Inter’s history, and on the 11th May, in the second leg of the Coppa semi-final against Roma, he played his one-thousandth match as a professional footballer.
Of course, being a non-spectacular, non-attacking player, there are no season highlight videos of Zanetti during 2010-11. There’s this, though, which is a montage of career highlights. Please note, this award is strictly 2010-11 specific, though.
Despite his season being overshadowed in Argentina by the dispute between him and national team manager Sergio Batista (solved at the last minute before the Copa América squad shortlist was announced), and in England by repeated talk of unrest and wanting out, Tevez was brilliant for Manchester City this season. Heavily involved in over 45% of his side’s league goals (either scoring, or providing the final pass) in spite of missing a number of matches, he finished as the Premier League’s joint top scorer with Dimitar Berbatov, and was an integral part of the squad qualifying for next season’s European Cup, and winning City’s first trophy in 39 years. He and fellow Argentine Pablo Zabaleta (another possible winner of this award for his versatility and desire to put his body on the line for his side) become the first two Argentines to win the FA Cup since Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles did it with Spurs back in 1982.
Since leaving River Plate in 2007 for Olympiakos, Belluschi initially didn’t make much of an impact in Europe (although he did win two leagues and two cups in as many seasons in Greece), and didn’t fit in too easily when he first joined Porto for 2009-10. During this season, though, he’s been an integral part of midfield for a side that many observers feel might have gone a long way in the European Cup, had they not been playing in the Europa League. They won the latter, of course, as well as a domestic league and cup double, with Belluschi running midfield and supplying plenty of balls to the forward line in front of him (which included his Colombian former River Plate team-mate, Radamel Falcao García).
There aren’t any decent single vids of Belluschi either, sadly. Here are a few separate ones of his more iconic moments from the season just gone, though.
One of the best players in Mexico ever since his arrival at Veracruz in 2004, Chaco Giménez is now at Cruz Azul, his fourth Mexican club, where he’s continued to tear the league up. Possessor of one of the most vicious long-range shots in the league, he’s also linked up superbly with Emanuel Tito Villa ahead of him to provide or score goal after goal as La Máquina Cementera strode to the semi-finals of the Mexican championship. He also scored the goal which gave Cruz Azul their first win over hated rivals América in seven years. His season ended on a downer, and he was given an eight match suspension (to start next season) for punching a pitch invader in the face during the semi-final defeat to Monarcas Morelia. There follows a selection of Chaco‘s best goals from last year’s Torneo Apertura (the Mexican short tournaments are run to the same schedule as the Argentine ones, so this is the first half of the 2010-11 season).
If 2009-10 was Pastore’s impressive debut season in Europe, culminating in a deserved inclusion in Diego Maradona’s World Cup squad, then 2010-11 was the year he proved it had been no fluke, and cemented his place as one of the most exciting, talented playmakers in the world. Palermo finished runners-up to Inter in the Coppa Italia, thus qualifying for next season’s Europa League since Inter are in the European Cup, and eighth in Serie A. Club chairman Maurizio Zamparini has been moved to slap a €60 million pricetag on Pastore’s head – which hasn’t deterred clubs from Manchester to Barcelona and Madrid to Milan showing an interest.
El Kun has had another unstoppable season for Atlético de Madrid, as his side finished just short – on head-to-head results – of Athletic Bilbao for a Europa League place. He finished joint-third top scorer, with twenty league goals, among them a hat-trick at the end of the season which consisted of his 99th, 100th and 101st goals for Atlético. He almost immediately announced he wanted to leave the club, and some of Europe’s biggest sides will be queueing up for his signature if, as expected, they agree to let him go (for the right price).
Oh, okay. We couldn’t leave him off the list of suggestions, even if he will probably dominate the voting again. Thirty-one goals and eighteen assists would be other-worldly figures for any player involved in a league, a domestic cup and a European campaign, but Messi had made all such figures seem inadequate; those are his stats for La Liga alone during 2010-11. In all competitions, he finished with 53 goals from 55 matches, and 23 assists. Twelve in the Champions League saw him equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s eight-year-old record in that competition, whilst his total in all competitions – matched, albeit from far, far more attempts on goal, by Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo – beat a Spanish record of 49 goals in all competitions set by Ferenc Puskás fifty-one years ago. The numbers, of course, don’t do Messi justice, terrifying though they are; he alone could have scored that phenomenal second goal in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final, when Madrid’s players couldn’t even get close enough to kick him. Season by season, we keep thinking Messi can’t get any better, and season by season, he keeps proving us wrong. He is 23 years old.
As already stated, these are only some suggestions. You can vote for whoever you want to – just one player per vote though, please. Votes should be sent to awards [at] hastaelgolsiempre.com.
You can follow the ins and outs during the 2011 Torneo Clausura, as well as the country’s vast foreign legion and the latest news from the selección during the 2010-2011 season direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. Also remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.