From the 86 seasons of the Spanish league championship, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been declared as the best player in history, according to a study by the Research Centre of History and Statistics of Spanish Football (CIHEFE). Former Real Madrid icon Raul comes in at second place, ahead of Cesar Rodriguez, Telmo Zarra and Enrique Castro 'Quini'.
The study analysed a number of factors, including minutes played in each season, goals scored from open play, penalty kicks, own goals and red cards, researcher Jose Antonio Ortega revealed.
" All of the evaluation criteria are marked with a simple and homogeneous scoring system that manages to evaluate all of the players with the same analysis in each season," he said.
Since the start of LaLiga in 1929, a total of 9,280 players have plied their trade in the Spanish top flight, with 854 of those being goalkeepers. Messi rose to the top of the study for several reasons, including being the only player to vastly exceed 300 goals, currently sitting on 349.
According to Ortega, his final points tally of 545 comfortably put him ahead of Raul (528), Cesar (524), Zarra (493) and Quini (488), with the top 10 being rounded out by Juan Arza (481), Alfredo Di Stefano (481), Paco Gento (467), Carlos Alonso 'Santillana' (464) and Guillermo Gorostiza (454).
In his report, Ortega also pointed out that Messi possesses the "technique, ambition, talent and ability that have made him one of the most valuable players of all time".
During the final standings, Cristiano Ronaldo was ranked in second spot in terms of players who are still active, while he is 17th in the overall rankings with a total of 415 points.Rounding out the top three of players who are still in action is Athletic forward Aritz Aduriz, who sits 67th in the total list with 314 points and 146 LaLiga goals to his name.
All of the players who make up the upper echelons of the rankings mostly have 10 or more seasons in Spain's top tier to their name, with much of that longevity being with one club for a long period, on many occasions.
Basque goalkeeper Jose Ramon Esnaola, who is 42nd on the list, is the first man to feature who was never capped at international level.
Source: Marca Football