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Set-piece specialist Lionel Messi does NOT practice free-kicks in training, reveals ex-Barcelona team-mate Nelson Semedo

LIONEL MESSI never practices free-kicks in training, according to his ex-Barcelona team-mate Nelson Semedo.

The Wolves right-back also believes the Argentine's phenomenal talents are just 'natural'.

Messi has scored a staggering 55 direct free-kicks in his career.

But Semedo - who left Barca for Wolves last summer - said his genius is God-given.

Asked what it was like to play and train alongside Barcelona's greatest ever player, he told the Telegraph: "Wow. I really don’t have many words that can describe how good he is.

“You know what makes him even more amazing? I never once saw him take a free-kick in training, in all of the time I was there. I swear he never did.

“We always used to practice shooting from distance but Messi never took a free-kick. For him, it was just natural.

“They say practice makes perfect - with him it was no practice and it was still perfect.

“An unbelievable player, you can’t explain it to anyone really. The free-kick against Liverpool [in the Champions League semi-final in May 2019], I was standing right behind him.

“In one of my first games in Barcelona, he got the ball and went past three, four and then five players.

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"Subconsciously I was there on the pitch thinking 'how can this guy do this?' He makes good players look bad.”

Despite his impressive free-kick haul, Messi does not even make the top-10 highest direct free-kick scorers of all time.

He's not even the top Argentine... he also sits behind his own BOSS, Ronald Koeman, and a goalkeeper on the list.

Instead, Messi ranks 11th.

Last year it emerged that despite his absolute genius on the pitch, Messi has no interest in most games in the first few minutes as he is observing the opponent's defenders.

Talking to the Financial Times, his former Nou Camp boss Ernesto Valverde revealed why Messi 'ignores' the ball early on.

He says the No10 'takes a reconnaissance walk' around the opposition defence.

There, he notes exactly each man's position. Valverde said: "Then, as the game advances, he gets in little by little.

"But he knows perfectly where the rivals' weaknesses are."

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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