Messi scored the same number of free kick goals for Barça as Ronaldinho (19)
Year 2005. Frank Rijkaard's training session ends next to the old Masia. A young and shy Leo Messi stays on the grass next to two craks that are Ronaldinho and Deco. They're practicing free kicks and look for all the variables. The masters give advice to the young blaugrana promising talent. They teach him how to strike the ball, how important the goalkeeper's position is, how he can go around the wall... Messi, silenced, transforms into a sponge and notes all the details to improve free kicks.
Year 2016. Leo Messi scores a magnificent free kick against Espanyol and matches Ronaldinho's number of free kicks with Barça's shirt on. 19 free kicks. The apprentice has been able to equal the master in an area that was not his best, at first. He put a lot of effort into it and kept on improving. And added one more threat to his offensive arsenal.
This season, Messi already scored 4 free kicks out of 24 attempts. 2 against Seville, 1 against Deportivo and 1 against Espanyol. Moreover, in the latest games he touched the post three times against Betis and Espanyol. The Argentine increased his ability to go over the walls and every free kick is a strong threat for the opponent's goal.
Curiously, the blaugrana crack is developing his incredible ability when it seems like there has never been more options for free kick takers. In that sense, it has not been rare this season to see Neymar tries his luck at free kicks. In yesterday's game against Espanyol, for example, the Brazilian player took one free kick that goalkeeper Pau deflected in corner. Messi knows that he is now a master himself and he remembers the time when he was learning from history's best in that area. Ronaldinho's spirit is still here at Camp Nou when the ball is dead and the public starts its applauding ritual for free kicks.