Who is Barcelona's Player of the Season?

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The Blaugrana are on course for a domestic double in 2017-18 and here, Goal takes a look at their three standout performers from the current campaign

Barcelona still have two trophies in their sights. Despite the disappointment of their Champions League elimination at the hands of Roma last week, the Catalans could end the season by winning La Liga and also the Copa del Rey.

Ernesto Valverde's side remain unbeaten in the Primera Division and are on the verge of claiming the title after second-placed Atletico lost at Real Sociedad on Wednesday night.

With five fixtures left, Barca lead by 12 points, meaning they could be crowned champions next weekend by beating Deportivo La Coruna in Galicia, with a Clasico clash at home to Real Madrid to come in early May.

Before that, however, the Blaugrana can claim the Copa del Rey for the fourth season in a row by beating Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday night.

And even though their European campaign ended in disappointment with a 3-0 loss away to Roma which saw the Catalans crash out of the Champions League on away goals after a 4-1 win at home, two trophies would still represent a successful season after all the turbulence in the summer.

Barca were seemingly in crisis when Neymar left, while a move for midfielder Marco Verratti failed to materialise and another top target, Philippe Coutinho, also eluded them. Meanwhile, many fans were unhappy with the signing of Paulinho and there were doubts about Valverde at the top level.

But after a 5-1 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa, Valverde got to work and built a strong side which, against all odds back in August, is on target for two trophies.

Jordi Alba has been fantastic after ending on bad terms with former boss Luis Enrique, forming an impressive association with Lionel Messi, while Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti have shone at the back and Ivan Rakitic has impressed in midfield.

Andres Iniesta has also starred in what is set to be his farewell season, while Paulinho has chipped in with important goals and Coutinho (who eventually arrived in January) has settled quickly. Others, like Sergi Roberto, Nelson Semedo and Ousmane Dembele, have also played their part.

Here, Goal picks the top three for 2017-18, in descending order. But what do you think? Feel free to join the debate in the comment box at the bottom of the page!


3. MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN


Marc-Andre ter Stegen Barcelona

Barcelona have conceded just 19 times in La Liga, one more than the competition's meanest defence (Atletico), and much of that is down to the fantastic form of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Germany goalkeeper in full flight is a spectacular sight and he has produced a series of stunning saves this term, most recently in the 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Tuesday night.

Still only 25, the former Borussia Monchengladbach shot-stopper is now of the world's best goalkeepers and with Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer still sidelined with a long-term injury, he is in contention to start for Germany at the World Cup.

Ter Stegen is also an important outfield player for Barca, with his distribution from the back an important feature in building attacks from deep positions.

"He offers us security and quality and he knows how to play with his feet," Valverde said in December. "On top of that, he always delivers in the key moments."


2. SERGIO BUSQUETS


Sergio Busquets Barcelona

This era of Barcelona greatness will be remembered for Lionel Messi above all, but also for Xavi, Iniesta and the coach who started it all: Pep Guardiola. But that is perhaps somewhat unfair on Sergio Busquets.

The midfielder, son of former Barca goalkeeper Carles, has played a pivotal part in his side's success since 2008, yet much of his work goes unnoticed in the centre of the park for the Blaugrana.

Busquets, now 29, does not score or even assist very often, but it is he who makes Barca tick, linking the midfield to the attack and providing essential balance just as Guardiola once did for the Catalan club.

His importance can be seen when is not there, as against Sevilla recently when Barca were all at sea without him and Messi, who came off the bench to help the Blaugrana claim a 2-2 draw at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

"With players like Busquets, everything is easier," Valverde said last year. So true.


1. LIONEL MESSI


Messi celebrating against Athletic

However well anyone else plays, Barcelona's best player is always Messi – and this has been another spectacular season for the Argentine attacker.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has hit 39 goals in 49 games for the Catalan club, many of them superb strikes including a number of free-kicks and long-range efforts, but it is his overall contribution that is the most impressive of all.

Messi drops deep to double up as a forward and a playmaker for the Blaugrana these days and at 30, this is perhaps the best-ever version of Leo in an extraordinary career at Camp Nou.

It is largely thanks to Messi that Barca are on course for a domestic double and against his favourite rival Sevilla on Saturday, Valverde's side will look to their talisman once again for inspiration.

"Messi is unique in the world and unique in history," the Barca boss said recently. And there is really little more to add...

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