Messi becoming Barcelona's best ever
Free kick goals have become a habit for Lionel Messi. He has three already this year, and is in position to establish himself as Barcelona's best free-kick taker of all-time, needing only one more to surpass Ronald Koeman's record with the Catalan club.
"Congratulations on scoring your 26th free kick goal," the former Netherlands defender wrote on Twitter, after Messi's superb left-foot strike against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
"One to go to break another record."
Messi's three goals came in the first three matches of the year, and all were decisive.
His goal at Camp Nou on Wednesday secured a 3-1 victory that allowed Barcelona to reverse a 2-1 first-leg loss and advance to the Copa de Rey quarter-finals.
He saved Barcelona from a Spanish league loss with a spectacular 90th-minute strike at Villarreal on Sunday, and last week he kept the club alive with a second-half goal in the first leg at Athletic.
This is the ninth straight season in which the 29-year-old Messi has scored at least one free kick goal. He had seven last season, the most so far in his career. His first ever came in a 6-1 rout against Atletico Madrid in 2008, a clever shot into an open net, while the goalkeeper tried to set his wall.
Messi has scored 12 times in his last 11 matches, but none of his goals with Barcelona this season had come from free kicks.
Messi comes from a long line of free-kick specialists in Barcelona, including Diego Maradona and former Brazil great Rivaldo.
Messi's first's chance to surpass Koeman's mark will be in Barcelona's home match against Las Palmas tomorrow in the Spanish league.