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Is Lionel Messi The Best Free-Kick Taker in the World?

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No one has scored more than him through the start of last season.

FC Barcelona v Boca Juniors - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has scored more goals than anyone off free-kicks since the start of last season in the top five European Leagues. The Argentine scored his seventh in Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Deportivo Alavés, this time sliding it under the wall and past Fernando Pacheco in goal. He also hit the post with a curling effort that almost crept into the top corner, and in the Spanish Supercup, he once again hit the post through a free-kick, though this time it was followed up by Gerard Piqué who tapped it into an empty net.

Is Messi the best free kick taker in the world? There’s certainly a good chance given the stats, and the fact is that even when he misses by hitting the post or forcing a save, the danger is not always passed for the opposition. Not only did Piqué score one off the post this season already, but he got close to doing it again against Alavés, but he couldn’t direct his header back into the net.

The astonishing thing is Messi has improved markedly at his free-kick technique. In fact, he has scored more free-kicks after turning 28 years old than before. He made his debut for Barcelona at 17, and he’s 31 now.