Should Neymar or Luis Suarez replace Lionel Messi as Barcelona's penalty taker?

Lionel Messi, the greatest footballer ever, scores two goals and gives an assist, nobody cares. Then he misses a penalty and everybody loses their minds. La Pulga yet again missed from the spot but more than made up for it with a brilliant solo goal at the end of the match.

Messi has now missed six of his last 12 penalties, and eight out of the last 43 from the 2009/10 season. A bit alarming right? Messi seems to have been getting nervous of late while taking penalties.

Penalty expert Lyttleton states that Messi has recently switched from Goalkeeper-Dependant method to a Goalkeeper-Independent method and that has lowered his accuracy rate to some extent.

In a Goalkeeper-Dependant method, a player strikes the ball after the goalkeeper has made a move like shifting his hands to either side and a player like Messi made the utmost of that. Now however Messi doesn't look at the keeper before taking the kick and fires in a pre-decided direction.

Also, the left-footed Messi places most of his shots towards the left. Goalkeepers seem to be guessing that nowadays. But occasionally he does mix it up and rightly so. And against Levante, Messi used raw power to shoot both the kicks. One went in, the other didn't.

Boasting of a more than 80% conversion rate in penalties may be good for some but for the best player in the world even that may not be satisfactory. Every player has his weakness and, unfortunately, La Pulga seems to have found his.

Barcelona has a world-class squad with depth in every department. After the arrival of Neymar and Suarez, the workload on Messi to score tons of goals has been reduced and he has transformed into an incredibly effective playmaker.

Similarly to teams like Bayern Munich, Barca can make use of the talents of players like Neymar, Suarez, Rakitic and Iniesta even in penalties. Wouldn't it be better if MSN and the two midfielders shared the penalty duties? Messi may still the best penalty taker, but Neymar and the rest have shown that they are also up to the challenge.

It really doesn't matter much if you miss a penalty and then score wonderful goals from open play. Messi is the kind of player who can score a goal out of nowhere. But then it might be in the best of interests that he either reverted back to his old style of penalty kick, or that everybody gets a chance to take the ultimate responsibility. 

Knowing Messi, however, he may already be chalking up a new strategy!

By Abhishek Das, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter here.