Lionel Messi knows his way around a free-kick.
Despite not necessarily being revered as a set-piece expert during his early years at Barcelona, Messi elevated his free-kick skills throughout the mid-2010s to devastating heights that have barely dropped off.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner might never top Juninho Pernambucano’s purported world record for free-kick goals, but his prolific conversions in recent years have still seen him fly past Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s free-kick brilliance
In fact, such was the level of fear that Messi instilled in his opponents from free-kicks during his final years at Camp Nou that teams called upon every trick in the book to try and stop him from scoring.
From players laying behind the wall like a draught extractor to standing on the line to help out the goalkeeper, rival sides knew that anything short of a waterproof defence would be unlocked by the little Argentine.
However, despite Messi’s magic seeming as though it pumps directly through his veins, the Barcelona icon hasn’t become so proficient from free-kicks without practice, practice, practice.
No doubt the rapid improvement that we saw from Messi’s dead-ball strikes across his prime years came from hours and hours on the training ground perfecting those trademarks curlers over the wall.
Practice makes perfect
And when it comes to match day itself, Messi can almost always be seen getting a feel for his free-kicks with shooting drills from a dead ball.
There might not be a wall in place and the goalkeeper is hardly ever busting a gust to make the save, but Messi’s dummy free-kicks before matches tend to be a terrifying warning shot for what’s to come.
Besides, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you will almost certainly have come across at least one clip of Messi scoring a free-kick of physics-defying brilliance during either a warm-up or training.
And if that’s the case, then you’re not alone in having been mightily impressed because a new clip of Messi strutting his stuff in free-kick practice even left Kylian Mbappé in a state of shock.
‘Messi shows Mbappe how it is done’
That’s because a viral video called ‘Lionel Messi Shows Mbappe How It is Done 🎯’, which has amassed more than three million views, shows that even world-class players are blown away by Messi’s skills.
Filmed during Paris Saint-Germain’s warm-up for the 1-0 win over Rennes earlier in the month, Messi can be seen scoring two fantastic free-kicks that left Mbappe and Marco Verratti seriously impressed.
So, if you want to see the umpteen-millionth example of Messi being a free-kick god – why wouldn’t you? – then be sure to check out the 34-year-old wowing his PSG comrades down below:
Just another day at the office for one of the greatest players in history.
The endless brilliance of Messi
While some dramatic zooms and music naturally play up Mbappe and Verratti’s reactions, you can see plenty in their exchange of facial expressions to know that Messi left quite the impression on them.
After all, even in a squad like Mauricio Pochettino’s where every square inch is occupied by a different world-class player, they’re all made to look human when Messi is at his world-beating best.
Truth be told, we’re still waiting to see that happen consistently in France and it’s ultimately far easier to impress in a warm-up, but any chance to bask in the dizzying heights of Messi’s talents is worth taking.