Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the best footballers of all time as well as one of the most complete players of his generation. When the competition between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo was mostly about free-kicks, the Barcelona talisman upped his game in dead-ball situations to scurry ahead of his Portuguese counterpart. However, the Barcelona captain wasn't always among the top crop of players that were put on free-kicks duty during his La Masia days as two former academy players preceded the Argentine.
Lionel Messi's former teammate Roger Giribet spoke to Goal and revealed that the then-Barcelona prodigy was the third choice free-kick taker at La Masia. The 33-year-old Giribet claimed that two players at the Barcelona youth academy were ahead on the pecking order for standing behind free-kick responsibilities. The two players that outshone Lionel Messi at free-kicks during his La Masia days were Victor Vazquez and the left-footed Juanjo Clausi. The two Barcelona youth products that were supposedly better free-kick takers than Messi now play football in Qatar and Spain's third-tier respectively.
🤝FICHAJE!@juanjoclausi14 Jugador habilidoso y de desborde formado en la cantera del FC Barcelona en su etapa en la Masía coincidiendo con Leo Messi.— Paterna CF ⚽️🐝 (@PaternaCdeF) July 30, 2019
También recordamos que Juanjo Clausí ha pasado por diferentes equipos como Benidorm, Móstoles, Castellonense, y Acero. BIENVENIDO pic.twitter.com/3baQ7Q3roy
The Lionel Messi free-kick stats over the last five years are close to astonishing. The four-time Champions League winner has netted 22 times from direct free-kicks since 2015 alone. No other team in Europe has matched that tally let alone individual players. Messi has scored 10 goals from free-kicks since Cristiano Ronaldo left LaLiga to join Juventus while the 35-year-old has managed just nine free-kick efforts over the wall for the Old Lady.
Lionel Messi wasn't always the dead-ball specialist he is today and some credit seemingly goes to Diego Maradona when the World Cup winner was Argentina's coach between 2008 and 2010. Maradona's assistant Fernando Signorini revealed that the Argentine legend 'taught his pupil' the technique to master scoring through free-kicks. With the LaLiga return date still in doubt due to the coronavirus crisis, here are some pin-point Lionel Messi free-kicks for Barcelona.