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Lionel Messi the second-most underperforming player in Europe’s top 5 leagues when it comes to open-play xG rating

‘The xG Philosophy’ – one of the pioneers when it comes to expected goals data have dug deep and highlighted Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi’s struggles from open-play with a damning stat.

The 33-year-old has managed just one goal from open play this season, a beautiful effort against Real Betis, despite the Argentine’s non-penalty xG rating standing at 4.33.

The xG Philosophy state that this is actually the largest underperformance in this area by any La Liga player and the second-worst in Europe’s top five leagues to Lyon striker Moussa Dembele.

Dembele has failed to score in his 11 Ligue 1 outings so far this season, with the Fulham academy graduate’s non-penalty xG rating at 3.89.

Messi has scored six times in 11 appearances across all competitions this season, but five of those have come from the penalty spot.

Whilst the six-time Ballon d’Or winner doesn’t look quite as clinical with his finishing anymore, Messi has continued to be a key creator for the Blaugrana with four assists and spades more of key passes that have led to goals.

Messi was unflattering in the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona and the Argentine has now been handed a much-needed rest and time away from the spotlight as he’ll be rested against Dynamo Kyiv.

The statistics regarding ‘expected goals’ certainly aren’t the be all and end all, but the fact that Messi is seen as the second-most underperforming player from open-play across La Liga, the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga is pretty worrying.

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