Barcelona: Lionel Messi's only Puskas Award-nominated free-kick is simply stunning

  • Kobe Tong
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Lionel Messi just can’t catch a break with FIFA’s Puskas Award.

When you consider all the staggering goals that the Barcelona superstar has produced over the years, you would have thought that at least one of them would have been that year’s very best.

However, as unfair as it might seem, Messi is entering the twilight years of his career with that particular hole in his trophy cabinet, but there have been no shortage of nominations.

Messi’s Puskas Award nominees

Messi’s first nod came in 2010 for a stunning solo effort against Valencia, before nominations arrived the following two years for moments of brilliance against Arsenal and Brazil.

He came within a whisker of top spot in 2015 for his iconic Copa del Rey final goal against Athletic Bilbao and another silver medal came four years later with his outrageous chip at Real Betis.

Throw in an admittedly generous nomination for his goal against Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup and it’s clear that Messi has been the bridesmaid over and over again for the Puskas Award.

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Messi’s only free-kick nominee

But of all the strikes to have caught FIFA’s eye over the course of Messi’s career, only one of them has been a free-kick and it might just be the greatest set-piece that he’s ever scored.

Sadly, once again, it wasn’t enough to take home the main prize with Malaysia’s Mohd Faiz Subri taking the gong, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular in Messi’s incredible catalogue.

It came during Argentina’s Copa América Centenario semi-final clash with the United States of America with Messi’s set-piece strike paving the way for a comfortable 4-0 win.

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Messi’s free-kick stunner vs USA

For starters, the ball is positioned much further out than most of Messi’s free-kicks, though that might bring back unhappy memories for Liverpool fans, while his approach was also unique.

Instead of going over the wall and towards the near top corner as you might expect, Messi made life harder for himself by having to mix power and precision to take on the goalkeeper’s side.

It had to be something truly special to ripple the net, but this is Messi we’re talking about and the masterpiece that he painted couldn’t have been any further in the top corner. Check it out:

If that had been any deeper in the top corner, it probably would have gotten lodged between the crossbar and post.

A free-kick genius

It’s not for no reason that fans hype Messi as one of the greatest passers and playmakers of all time because even when it comes to free-kicks, he seems capable of placing the ball wherever he wants.

And although it wasn’t enough for Messi to take home the Puskas Award he so thoroughly deserves, it feels right that one of the greatest free-kick takers of the era had their talent acknowledged.

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But I’m sure Messi doesn’t dwell on it too much. Besides, had he not changed his mind about retiring from international football, it could have proven to be his final goal for Argentina…

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