The coronavirus is continuing to cause havoc across the world, in every walk of life.
Football hardly matters at a time when such an indiscriminate disease is at large, but the lack of certainty in terms of what happens next is a real problem. Much of mainland Europe are taking lockdown measures, with their major leagues currently suspended. There is no concrete date for resumption, either.
Spain is among the most harshly affected by COVID-19, and there are questions over whether their football will start again at all. La Liga has perhaps not been at its best in 2019/20, with its three greatest teams, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all enduring periods of respective transition.
Were the league to be declared void, as has been discussed, nobody would be awarded any titles. Barcelona do lead the way at the top, and will be keen to see either the table, as it is, now become final or the action start again when safe so they can complete the job.
When it comes to who should win the Player of the Year award as of now, it would be easy to award it to Lionel Messi. The Argentine, arguably the greatest footballer this planet has ever seen, has been in typically stunning form, scoring 19 goals and registering 12 assists. But even if he guides his team to another league crown, there have been more rewarding stories elsewhere.
It has been a great season for Getafe and Real Sociedad, both of whom are in the thick of the race for the Champions League, potentially at the expense of Atleti. One man who has stood out at Anoeta is Mikel Oyarzabal; the 22-year-old left-sided playmaker has always been highly rated within his homeland, but the way he has stepped up this season shows real development.
La Real’s side is brimming with talent and quality; alongside Martin Odegaard, on loan from Real Madrid, former Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino and striker Willian Jose, Oyarzabal has been thoroughly impressive. It isn’t just because of the six goals and eight assists recorded this season, but his overall impact on the team. As crucial as wide players can be depending on the style of play, it is more difficult to influence games when not in a central position. Oyarzabal has managed to do just that.
Though the award and therefore arguments for and against the winner are based on La Liga form only, Oiarzabal has been as productive going forward in all competitions. Eight of his big chances created have been in the league, with one more in the Europa League. He has averaged over two shots, crosses and dribbles per 90 minutes in both competitions, as well as 11.3 final third passes.
Oyarzabal's best Liga performance this season
Now that Euro 2020 has been called off and put back a year, there are a few players who will be disappointed. Oyarzabal had really been playing his way into the forefront of Luis Enrique’s thoughts ahead of the naming of his squad. While he has every chance of making his mark in 2021, losing the momentum he has gained this season will be a bitter blow.
The reality is that the award would most likely go to a Barcelona or Real Madrid player, depending on who ends the season as champions. Messi always stakes a claim, and after finally bursting from his shell in the aftermath of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from the Santiago Bernabéu, Karim Benzema is also in the picture.
Oyarzabal is a player who has promised much since arriving on the scene and appears to have taken his chance in a side set for the Champions League. It would be extremely cruel on the Basques, and a number of other sides, to move on from this season without first allowing it to reach a satisfying conclusion.
The situation is unprecedented and much bigger than football; it may not be possible to do that and there are surely plenty of complications to come. If everything stops now, Real Sociedad deserve huge credit for their campaign, and if they can’t get European qualification, their star man deserves individual recognition.