Former Argentina fitness coach Fernando Signorini has revealed how Albiceleste legend Diego Maradona helped compatriot Lionel Messi perfect his free-kick taking abilities.
Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to eight points on Sunday after they beat 2nd-placed Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Camp Nou. The only goal of the game came in the 26th minute when Messi bent a sumptuous free-kick past John Oblak for the 600th goal of his career.
Messi scored his 600th goal to beat Atletico and surely clinch La Liga for @FCBarcelona. If he were just a goal scorer it would be astonishing, but the fact he’s also the best dribbler I’ve ever seen and as good a passer as I’ve ever seen makes him the best I’ve ever seen. 🐐— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 4, 2018
The strike means that Messi has now scored three free-kicks in his last three games for Barca. Since returning from the La Liga's winter break, the Argentine has scored five free-kicks from 33 attempts leaving him with a conversion rate of 15% - the average for Europe's top five leagues is just six per cent in comparison.
Speaking in an interview with LaSexta (via Marca), Signorini has revealed how the Argentine international wasn't always as clinical from dead ball situations and needed some inspiration from another Argentina legend: "I started walking to where Diego was, and at the same moment I see Messi place the ball down."
"He takes three shots and misses all three and turned to us with a look of clear frustration. He turns towards the dressing room and I shout 'no' before hugging him and telling him that the best player in the world can't leave a training session like that.
"Diego arrives and they talk to each other, the world seems to stop at that moment. He places the ball in the same place and then gives some very paternal words. He told him not to take his foot off the ball so quickly when he takes a free kick."