Ask any football fan to name three of Lionel Messi’s best attributes and his finishing, dribbling and control will almost certainly feature.
The latter skill is something Barcelona’s Argentine magician is particularly renowned for, his first touch immaculate and largely unrivalled in European football.
Messi is often seen delicately cushioning passes to perfection in La Liga, bringing down balls with ease that most others would mis-control.
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And as if further evidence of his impeccable first touch was needed, a video has surfaced of the striker controlling a ball that he strikes 20 metres into the air on Japanese TV.
Scroll down to watch Messi’s incredible piece of skill.
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Readers might remember a similar video of the Argentina international kicking a ball over a beam raised 18 metres off the ground, but his latest stunt involved striking the ball even higher.
Here’s his previous attempt.
Barcelona will need Messi to make best use of his vast skill set on Sunday when they host Espanyol amidst their bid to win a second-successive La Liga title.
Following their quarter-final exit from the Champions League to finalists Atletico Madrid in mid-April, Luis Enrique’s men have two remaining chances at lifting silverware, with a Copa del Rey final against Sevilla also in the offing later this month.
Where their title defence is concerned, they currently sit top on 85 points, ahead of Diego Simeone’s Atletico because of their superior head-to-head record and one point above Real Madrid.
Anything less than victory in their final two games would likely see Barca’s title rivals leapfrog them - a disastrous scenario given they were in cruise control just two months ago.
Prior to their unprecedented defeat in El Clasico, Barca were nine and ten points ahead of Atleti and Real respectively. Further defeats to Real Sociedad and Valencia saw the gap closed even further.
Form is on Messi and co’s side, though. They’ve won each of their last three league fixtures to nil, scoring a remarkable 16 goals in the process.
They also have the formidable Luis Suarez at their disposal, who has found the back of the net nine times during such time.
Where the third component of Barcelona’s MSN is concerned - Neymar - the 24-year-old has been tipped by countryman and Brazil legend Ronaldo to stay at the Camp Nou this summer.
Speculation has been rife regarding Neymar’s future in Catalonia, but Ronaldo is confident he isn’t interested in a move away.
He told Canal+, per the Daily Mail: “He will stay at Barca.
“I don’t think that Neymar will leave. He is well suited to the city and the team. I don’t believe in the realisation of this transfer."
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