Lionel Messi misses another penalty in Barcelona's victory over Levante in La Liga

Is the Argentine human after all?

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The Independent Online

Lionel Messi's patchy penalty-taking persisted during Barcelona's 4-1 home win over Levante on Sunday evening.

The Argentine scored twice, one a perfectly dispatched spot-kick, and notched an assist as his side maintained their 100 per cent start to the new La Liga season and remained two points clear at the league's summit.

However, Messi's performance was marred by his second penalty, which he blazed over the crossbar. The Ballon D'Or holder has now missed six of his 44 La Liga career spot kicks, and 17 of the 81 penalties he taken in all competitions during his professional career, including those in shoot-outs (79 per cent scored against 21 per cent missed).

 

The average player converts 77 per cent of his penalty kicks, meaning that Messi, whose statistics are otherwise extraordinary, is dangerously close to only being ordinary at one aspect of his game.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Luis Enrique dismissed suggestions that Messi's penalty-taking proved that the 28-year-old forward was 'human' after all, pointing to his invaluable contribution to Barça's victory.

"To miss penalties does not make Messi human," said Luis Enrique. "Then he scores two goals and gives an assist. There is very little human about Messi.

El Confidencial have become the first Spanish media outlet to question whether the Argentine should retain his spot-kick duties.

Although the daily newspaper believes it is time to hand the mantle over to one of the team's other superstars, it concedes that "no one will cough" and Messi will remain Luis Enrique's chosen penalty taker for some time to come.

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