For the first time since 2007, Lionel Messi has failed to score a headed goal in a single calendar year.
The Barcelona and Argentina superstar ended the year with 51 goals for club and country, but none of those came from his head. It was the eighth time Messi scored over 50 goals in the same year, but the first time in 11 years that none of them were headed goals.
His 51-goal tally also meant Messi was the only player to finish 2018 with more than 50 goals, two more than long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted 49 times for Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.
Messi has scored 15 La Liga goals so far across the 2018-19 campaign, with 13 coming from his left foot and two more from his right. Last season, 32 of his 34 La Liga goals were scored with his left foot, with two from his right.
0 - Lionel Messi has failed to score with the head in 2018 for Barcelona & Argentina in all competitions being the first year without scoring since 2007. Bold pic.twitter.com/El0UaGzIm3 — OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 30, 2018
His left-foot dominance has led to criticism from Brazil legend Pele, who claimed recently that the 31-year-old does not deserved to be called the best ever.
"How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?" Pele told Folha de Sao Paulo.
"How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers.
"As far as I’m concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever. If you ask me, 'Was he better than Messi?' Yes, he was. Much better."
In 2018, Messi became Barcelona's permanent captain and added another La Liga and another Copa del Rey to his collection of trophies. He also won his fifth European Golden Ball and was named La Liga's Best Player for the seventh time.