Lionel Messi is more lethal from free-kicks than Man Utd are from penalties

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Lionel Messi is as lethal as they come from free-kicks.

After making a slow start to the season through injury, Messi has wracked up nine goals for Barcelona and just under half of them have come from free kicks.

Sevilla were the first team to suffer from Messi's set-piece brilliance, before Real Valladolid succumbed to the same fate and then Celta Vigo conceded two in the space of 20 minutes. 

Messi has always had an impressive free kick in his locker, but it's in recent years that his accuracy has really improved and he's scored 19 across the last three seasons alone.

It's a trait that his Barcelona teammates are certainly relieved about and Sergio Busquets said this week: "He’s been improving bit by bit and it was difficult. Having him is a very big advantage.

Messi's lethal free-kicks

“We have a very big advantage, he’s the best in the world and also the best free-kick taker in the world."

And such is his proficiency from a dead ball that some incredible statistics have emerged.

First and foremost, Messi has scored more free kicks than clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus since his streak began around 2017.

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Compared to Man Utd penalties

But we want to take the data even further and test the common social media reaction of: Messi takes free-kicks like they're penalties.

Well, we're here to tell you that those statement aren't as stupid as they may sound, at least as far as Manchester United are concerned.

According to Marca, Messi has scored four free kicks from 10 attempts in La Liga, thus giving him a conversion rate of 40%.

And per Transfermarkt, Manchester United have dispatched two of the six penalties they've been awarded in the Premier League, producing a conversion rate of just 33.3%.

So, in other words, Messi is deadlier from free kicks than United are from penalties despite being just one player and having to shoot from twice the distance.

Marcus Rashford is the main culprit here after missing from 12 yards against Crystal Palace and Norwich City, despite enjoying more success when facing Chelsea and Leicester City.

Norwich City v Manchester United - Premier League

Anthony Martial also bungled his spot kick at Carrow Road earlier this month and Paul Pogba continued his widely inconsistent penalty record with a miss at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

And only time will tell whether United will overtake Messi by improving their accuracy or the Barcelona superstar lets his free-kick potency slip.

Either that or they can take credence from the fact their record is slightly better if you include Rashford's Carabao Cup penalty at Chelsea and Martial's winner against Partizan Belgrade. 

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