Everybody loves a goal from a free-kick, whether witnessing the ball curl gracefully into the top corner or seeing it struck with such unstoppable power that even those watching on TV cannot help but flinch.
Over the years, Europe has been blessed with some top free-kick specialists; David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Juninho and Roberto Carlos to name just a few. But one thing fans don’t seem to be able to agree on is who was, and is, the best free-kick taker in Europe?
Naturally, the player who takes the most free-kicks will have the better chance of scoring the most goals from them. For example, Lionel Messi (13) has scored more free-kick goals than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues since 2015 – but the Barcelona forward has also taken more than any other player with 134 efforts.
But which player, to have scored at least five free-kicks in Europe’s top five leagues since August 2015, has the best conversion rate?
Here are the top five that stand out.
Club:Lyon. Position:Attacking midfielder
One of Lyon’s many main men last season, Fekir’s all-round game is very impressive and the Frenchman is just as dangerous from dead-ball situations as he is from open play, converting 14% of his free-kicks since August 2015.
club:Barcelona. Position:Attacking midfielder
Though his free-kick opportunities have dwindled since moving to Barcelona from Liverpool for £146m, Philippe Coutinho is still a useful alternative for the Blaugrana in Messi’s absence.The Brazilian may have only scored five free-kicks in the past three years, but they have come from just 26.
The main man at Juventus when it comes to free-kicks, Paulo Dybala is level on goals with teammate Pjanic behind only Messi since August 2015. But the Argentine has taken just 40 attempts, scoring an impressive one from every five.
Club:Athletico madrid. Position:Foward
The second-most clinical free-kick taker in Europe is a name with which you’ll be familiar. World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann has scored five of his 23 free-kick attempts, including one this season against Leganes.
Perhaps a slight surprise as the number one free-kick taker in Europe’s top five leagues since August 2015, Macedonian winger Enis Bardhi has scored six of his 25 attempts despite only joining Levante last summer.