Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi overtakes Cristiano Ronaldo with latest free kick goal

Andrew Headspeath
Jan 10, 2021, 1:00 PM GMT
Lionel is the top scorer in La Liga again
Lionel is the top scorer in La Liga again / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is back! Though, in truth, he never really went anywhere.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner put the off-field turbulence behind him as he scored twice for the second game in a row as Barcelona beat Granada on Saturday.

The two strikes take Messi to the top of La Liga's scoring charts with 11 in 2020/21, while his second of the night also saw him overtake eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the number of goals from direct free kicks.

As tallied by Opta, Messi's sneaky under-the-wall finish means he now has 48 direct free kicks goals for Barça in all comps, compared to Ronaldo's 47 in his own club career.

Messi's all-round display on Saturday, following another two-goal showing in the win over Athletic Club three days before, has convinced many observers that the 33-year-old is back to his best.

Messi has six goals in his last five La Liga outings, while - as noted by Mundo Deportivo - his four in two games at the opening of 2021 constitutes his second finest start to a new year ever (behind only 2016 when he scored five).

The superstar's contract continues to be the hot topic in Catalonia, with Messi's deal expiring this summer.

He is, as of 1 January, free to negotiate with foreign clubs over a move while Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have been linked for several months.

Barcelona presidential elections take place this month with the most high profile candidates all claiming to have plans in place to deal with Messi and his enormous wage one way or the other.

Following their latest win over Granada, Barcelona sit in third in the table four points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid who have three games in hand.