Lionel Messi smirks after Espanyol fan insults him

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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, as one of the most famous footballers on the planet, is no stranger to receiving stick from opposition supporters.

But the four-time Ballon d'Or winner struggled to contain his amusement after being sworn at by an Espanyol fan at the weekend.

Messi pretended not to take any notice of the supporter in question, who made an obscene gesture at the Argentina international, but the smirk on his face said it all. The world's best player noticed but clearly found the incident funny.

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Espanyol are Barcelona's local rivals, and Messi inevitably receives a hostile reception every time he visits Cornellà-El Prat.

But, as is often the case, it was Messi and co. who had the last laugh. Barcelona recorded a 2-0 victory to keep their two-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid in tact, with Messi scoring the second goal of the match.

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Stick does not affect Messi

Messi is not a divisive or arrogant character - he tends to do the right things on the pitch and say the right things off it - but his extraordinary talent means supporters will attempt to put him off by whistling him or shouting insults.

It rarely works, though. The only times Messi will fail to perform is when he's not quite right either physically or mentally.

The South American has been back to his brilliant best in 2015 following what was, by his own admission, a tough 2014.

Messi could win fifth Ballon d'Or in January

Messi still scored 41 goals in 46 appearances for Barcelona, and helped Argentina reach the World Cup final, but he was not at the same level of previous seasons.

Barca's No. 10 has scored 47 goals in 48 matches so far this season and has a chance of finishing the campaign with winners' medals for both La Liga and the Champions League.

In the next round of Europe's premier club competition Messi will go head-to-head with his old mentor Pep Guardiola as Barcelona take on Bayern Munich for a place in the Champions League final.

Should Messi inspire Barcelona to their fifth European Cup triumph, the diminutive genius will be one step closer to landing a record-breaking fifth Ballon d'Or award.

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