BARCELONA • Lionel Messi believes that the Spanish La Liga title is of utmost importance to Barcelona after he picked up a record-extending sixth - and third consecutive - European Golden Shoe award on Wednesday, following his outstanding individual 2018-19 domestic campaign.
The award is presented to the top goalscorer in league football across Europe, with the Argentinian finding the net 36 times last season as Barca retained their La Liga title.
He was three ahead of nearest rival Kylian Mbappe, who scored 33 times for Paris Saint-Germain as they won France's Ligue 1.
"My team and my teammates, I would have never been able to win even one of these awards without them," Messi said at the presentation in Barcelona. "This is a recognition for everyone, all the team."
His sons Thiago and Mateo presented their father with the trophy supervised by his wife, Antonella Rocuzzo. The presentation was watched by teammates, including Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba.
Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus. Suarez is one of nine players on two. The award was created in 1967 when it was won by Portuguese ace Eusebio.
The 32-year-old Barca captain, who won his first Golden Shoe in 2010, admitted he was disappointed to have missed out on Champions League glory again after Barcelona blew a 3-0 first-leg lead against Liverpool in the semi-finals last season. The Reds won 4-3 on aggregate en route to winning their sixth European Cup.
However, Messi said he was conscious that the league should be the club's priority.
EUROPEAN GOLDEN SHOES
LIONEL MESSI'S WINS: 6
2009-10 34 league goals
2007-08 (Manchester United), 2010-11, 2013-14, 2014-15 (Real Madrid)
BEST YEAR 2014-15 48
MESSI'S GOALS 672
APPEARANCES 828 (club and country but excluding club friendlies)
LA LIGA GOALS 420
Next highest is Cesar (190)
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 112 (second behind Ronaldo's 127)
INTERNATIONAL GOALS 68
Next highest is Gabriel Batistuta (54)
"The Champions League is something special and we all want to win it, but we are conscious that La Liga is the most important," he said.
"La Liga can help you reach the Champions League and the King's Cup. It is very difficult if you don't perform well in La Liga to compete in the Champions League.
"We never forget about La Liga and the Cup because we are Barcelona and we always aim to win everything."
The Spanish champions have endured a difficult start to the season, losing twice in their first eight league games. But they have won their last three to haul themselves into second place on 16 points, two behind leaders Real Madrid.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE