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L. Messi

Pjanic makes Messi free-kick practice revelation after picking PSG superstar as world’s best at set-pieces

14:05 BST 31/03/2022
Lionel Messi Argentina free-kick 2021
A man that once shared a dressing with an Argentine icon at Barcelona is puzzled as to how the South American can be so accurate

Miralem Pjanic is widely regarded as one of the finest free-kick takers in world football, but he considers Lionel Messi to be the best on the planet despite the Argentine only practising set-piece shooting “once or twice a year”.

A Bosnian midfielder that once registered 19 goals from dead-ball situations across productive spells in Italy with Roma and Juventus shared a dressing room with a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner at Barcelona.

He was left in awe as to how a South American superstar can be so devastatingly accurate from free-kicks as he barely concerns himself with the art of mastering that technique on the training field.

What has been said?

Asked for his pick as the finest free-kick taker in the game, Pjanic – who has also been a team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve - told Gazzetta dello Sport: “Messi.

“I’ve practised free-kicks twice a week for 20-30 minutes a day, for my entire life. Maybe he practices once or twice a year, and that’s how he takes them!”

Who will be Barcelona’s next superstar?

After benefiting from Messi’s mercurial talents for 17 years, Barca saw an all-time great sever ties with them as a free agent in the summer of 2021 – with a move to Paris Saint-Germain completed.

There has been talk of those steps being retraced, but the Blaugrana are building for the future around a core of exciting young talents.

Pjanic got to work with a few of those during his time at Camp Nou, before being forced out by former coach Ronald Koeman, and is a big fan of Pedri and Gavi – two hot prospects thriving under the guidance of club legend Xavi.

Pjanic said of the new-look Barca: “Koeman was disrespectful. [Joan] Laporta made a great decision with Xavi.

“Barcelona now look completely different.

“I love Pedri, he dances with the ball like [Andres] Iniesta. The first time I saw Gavi in training I said: ‘Wow, this boy is gonna be special’.”

A managerial change midway through the 2021-22 campaign, along with shrewd business for the likes of Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, has helped to breathe new life into Barca.

They are back up to third in the Liga table, 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, while also making their way to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

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