Dutch legend hails Barcelona legend Lionel Messi as the best free kick taker of all time

Netherlands legend Marco Van Basten recently stated that Barcelona icon Lionel Messi is the greatest free kick taker in the history of football. The Argentine maestro has a wide palette of skills, with kicking a dead ball into the net from a distance being a prominent entry on the list.

Messi’s free-kick talents have been acknowledged by the entire footballing fraternity and recently received yet another stamp of approval from Marco Van Basten.

While answering questions in an interview, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner was quizzed about who he considers to be the ultimate dead-ball specialist. Van Basten seemed to be clear about his choice and named Lionel Messi (via @TheEuropeanLad on X).

The Inter Miami talisman has an impeccable record when it comes to free-kicks, having netted a whopping 65 goals from direct free-kicks. This tally makes Lionel Messi the joint fifth-highest free-kick scorer of all time, level with England and Manchester United legend David Beckham.

The four players who have managed to rack up more goals from dead-ball situations than Messi are Ronaldinho (66 goals), Victor Legrottaglie (66 goals), Pele (70 goals), and Juninho (77 goals).

Of Messi’s 65 strikes, 50 came in a Barcelona shirt, alongside a further 11 goals with Argentina. The 36-year-old legend has also scored two free-kicks each for Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Miami.

Marco van Basten snubbed Lionel Messi while naming his three best players of all time

Despite recognizing Lionel Messi as the greatest free-kick taker in history, the AC Milan legend believes that he does not crack the top three of the greatest footballers list. Speaking to France Football in 2022, Van Basten named the three players he considers the greatest of all time, surprisingly omitting the Argentine from his answer.

The 59-year-old Dutchman stated (via Sport Bible):

“Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff are, for me, the three greatest players in history.”

Van Basten also gave insight into his choice behind snubbing Messi, saying:

“Messi is also a magnificent player, but Maradona has always had more personality in a team. Messi is not the one who gets in front to go to war.”

The 1988 Euros winner also chose to leave out Cristiano Ronaldo from the list, stating that he has not forgotten about the Portuguese superstar. Van Basten also stated that he took Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane into consideration before providing his final list.

Being one of only five players to ever secure more than two Ballon d’Or titles, the former Ajax striker is himself a proven icon of the game. Despite his glittering resume, Van Basten never managed to reach his true potential, retiring at the early age of 28 due to an excruciating ankle injury.

Edited by Arshit Garg

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