Just four points separate the top six in Spain and according to the Argentine superstar, the close competition is a good thing for the league

Lionel Messi said La Liga 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 La Liga 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 Espanyol are all above perennial title challengers Real Madrid – who sit four points off the 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.

“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 consecutive year after conceding just 22 times in 37 La Liga outings last season.

Meanwhile, Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas took home the Trofeo Zarra award for the highest-scoring Spanish player and Valencia’s Marcelino was presented with the Trofeo Miguel Munoz as best coach.