Lionel Messi opened the scoring vs Espanyol with a delightful free-kick

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga

Lionel Messi is playing football from a different planet right now.

The Barcelona superstar is currently experiencing some of the best form of his entire career and before entering the international break, scored a stunning hat-trick against Real Betis.

As a result - give or take Argentina's defeat to Venezuela - there was great optimism surrounding Messi's next game and the derby with Espanyol marked his return to club football.

However, considering the Argentine has amassed more goals and assists than anyone else in Europe, he made a slow start to the game by his incredible standards.

The Blaugrana struggled to breakdown their fellow Catalan club, marching towards half-time at 0-0 and ensuring that Ernesto Valverde needed to rally the troops.

Barcelona vs Espanyol

Nevertheless, that didn't stop Messi from producing his latest batch of magic moments.

First, it was a ruthless piece of skill from the 31-year-old that left Espanyol's Marc Roca crawling across the Nou Camp pitch.

Fan footage emerged showing Messi picking up the ball in the final third and proceeding to toy with marker having been quickly closed down.

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Messi's 'panenka free-kick'

However, Messi produced a far more incredible moment a few minutes later, when he added yet another free-kick goal to his remarkable record this season.

Football fans have become accustomed to seeing the Barcelona magician whipping strikes past the goalkeeper but this particular effort was very different.

In fact, it has become christened a 'Panenka free-kick' with Messi deftly floating the ball over the wall and - via a slight deflection - past Diego Lopez between the sticks.

It really was incredible - check it out down below:

Messi has an uncanny ability to make set pieces look completely natural and it's moments like these which make you question if he's really human.

If there's any consolation for Espanyol, they certainly aren't the first opponents to concede from Messi's free-kick magic and they most definitely won't be the last.

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Besides, it was less than 20 minutes later that Messi once again found the net, wrapping up the win for Barcelona and extending their lead at the summit of La Liga.

There is still a long way to go before Barcelona can contemplate the treble but with Messi in this kind of form, it seems that anything and everything is possible at the Nou Camp.

Do you think Messi is the best player in the world? Have your say in the comments section below.

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