Sports Lionel Messi adjudged the greatest in La Liga history, Ronaldo 17th

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The Argentine has been named the greatest player to grace the Spanish La Liga

play Lionel Messi adjudged the greatest in La Liga

The Argentine ace is the best footballer to play in the 86 years of the Spanish league's existence, according to a study carried out by an official organisation.

This was announced by the Research Centre of History and Statistics of Spanish Football (CIHEFE) after a study which took into consideration 86 seasons of the Spanish topflight.

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.

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"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 has been awarded the first position for many reasons, chief of which is the fact that he is the only player to have surpassed 300 goals, having scored 349 since his debut in 2004.

The Argentine boasts 545 points, in front of La Liga legends such as Raúl (528), César Rodriguez (524), Telmo Zarra (493), Enrique 'Quini' (488), Juan Arza (481), Alfredo di Stéfano (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.

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