Best freekick takers in the Premier League: Ranking the top 10 set-piece specialists in the EPL right now
Set-pieces are an integral part of football, with the opportunity of scoring from dead balls representing an excellent attacking weapon. Some of the best freekick takers in the Premier League have mastered the art of finding the back of the net from set-pieces.
Throughout history, some players have distinguished themselves with this uncanny knack for delivering excellent freekicks and the torch has been passed on to the current era.
The EPL has long been famed for producing players with pace and physicality but lacking in technique but the narrative has been changing in recent years and the English game is currently home to some of the most technically-gifted players in the world.
Players of the recent past like Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Gianfranco Zola, and Thierry Henry were expert freekick takers and the trend continues today.
Here, we shall be having a rundown of the 10 best freekick takers in the Premier League at the moment.
#10. David Luiz (Arsenal)
It is not very often that you see defenders ranking on lists for best freekick takers in the Premier League but David Luiz is not like your average defender.
Brazil international in many ways is an attacker stuck in the body of a defender and this much is reflected in his playing pattern.
Luiz relishes the thought of playing as an attack-minded defender and while he might be prone to frequent errors, it takes nothing away from the fact that he is a world-class defender who has proven himself on the highest levels.
The 33-year-old possesses excellent ball distribution and technique and is also a relatively accurate freekick taker. He favors a direct shooting technique rather than curling the ball, which is more suited to freekicks from distance.
He has scored a total of five career freekicks, which is made all the more impressive when you consider that he has never been a regular set-piece taker throughout his career.
#9. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
Marcos Alonso is not exactly everybody’s ideal choice for a left-back, as the Spaniard is prone to lapses in concentration and defensive errors but these can be directly linked to his penchant for going forward.
The 29-year-old like most modern full-backs is more concerned with the attacking aspects of his duties and while his crossing might not be at par with some of the best in the business, Alonso makes up for that with his set-piece ability.
The former Fiorentina man has five career freekicks, with four coming in the colors of Chelsea, although he has not scored from a direct freekick since 2018.
#8. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
Riyad Mahrez was one of the driving forces behind Leicester City’s surprise Premier League triumph in 2016 and for his efforts, he was named PFA Player of the Year.
A transfer to Manchester City in 2018 might not exactly have worked out at the level he expected, but the Algeria international still proves his value to Pep Guardiola’s side.
The 29-year-old is blessed with tremendous dribbling skills and change of pace, with his ability to turn inside defenders and shoot gives him an excellent advantage on the wings.
The Algeria captain is also precise from freekick taking and has a technique of curling the ball over the wall into the top or bottom corners.
Mahrez has five career freekick goals and his most recent came in the 8-0 mauling on Watford in August 2019.
#7. Juan Mata (Manchester United)
Juan Mata is one of the most technically gifted midfielders in the world on his day, with his vision and precise passing helping him to control the tempo of matches with ease.
Having represented Chelsea with distinction for three years, the Spaniard completed a shock transfer to Manchester United in January 2014 and he has continued to make a mark on the Premier League with the Red Devils.
These days, he does not get regular game time, but Mata remains one of the best freekick takers in the Premier League, with his magic wand of a left boot easily bending the ball over walls to nestle in the back of the net.
The 32-year-old has 11 career freekicks goals to his name across his spells with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Valencia, with his most recent coming in the 2-1 victory away to Juventus in the 2018-19 Champions League group stage.
#6. Willian (Arsenal)
Like David Luiz, Willian is also Brazilian, joined Arsenal from Chelsea, and also favors a direct shooting system when taking his freekicks.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk man has scored 14 career freekicks, with his most recent coming in Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat away to West Ham in July.
#5. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Some few years ago, Gylfi Sigurdsson was rated as one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and he finished as the second-highest assist-provider in the 2016/17 Premier League – almost singlehandedly keeping Swansea in the Premier League.
He completed a mega-money move to Everton that summer but the Iceland international has been inconsistent for the Toffees and consequently lost his starting place to the in-form James Rodriguez.
The former Tottenham man, however, ranks one of the best freekick takers in the Premier League and has scored 13 direct freekicks in his career.
#4. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Bruno Fernandes made a name for himself in his native Portugal with Sporting Lisbon before completing a transfer to Manchester United in January 2020.
His arrival at Old Trafford injected new life into the United camp and he almost single-handedly helped the club secure Champions League qualification that seemed impossible when he signed.
Despite his short stay at the club, Fernandes’ impact was so great that he was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year at the end of the season in recognition of his incredible efforts.
The 26-year-old is also adept at freekick taking and has eight direct freekick goals in his career, with the most recent coming in the 5-2 victory over Bournemouth in July.
#3. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Unlike the other players on this list, James-Ward Prowse is not a stellar name but that takes nothing away from his abilities.
As equally physical as he is technical, the Southampton captain no doubt ranks as one of the best freekick takers in the Premier League.
The 25-year-old has spent the entirety of his career with Southampton and he has scored five direct freekicks since the start of the 2015/16 season.
#2. Trent-Alexander Arnold (Liverpool)
Trent-Alexander Arnold has had a career projector that few could have predicted, going from Nathaniel Clyne’s understudy to one of the very best right-backs in the world in the space of three years.
At that point, Clyne was an England regular, and Arnold was seemingly light-years away from holding down a first-team spot but a long-term injury to the current Crystal Palace man gave the youngster his chance and he has not looked back since then.
For how attack-minded he is, there are many who believe that a future change in position could see the 21-year-old deployed in midfield, while his crossing accuracy is arguably the most accurate in the league.
Together with Andrew Robertson, he forms the deadliest full-back combo in the league, while Arnold is also an excellent set-piece taker both in crossing and directly.
He currently has four career freekick goals but at this rate, you can be sure that he would add to that total in the coming years.
#1. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
It can be argued that Kevin de Bruyne is the most complete footballer in the world today, while it cannot be debated that he is the best midfielder on the planet.
There is seemingly nothing the Belgium international cannot do, with his vision, passing, shooting ability with both feet, technique, close control, change of pace, and pristine crossing ranking among the best in all categories.
Despite not guiding Manchester City to the Premier League title last season, Kevin de Bruyne was heads and shoulders above everybody else as the best player in the league and he was deservedly named PFA Player of the Year – becoming the first City player to win the prestigious accolade – while he was also nominated for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award.
His freekick ability is not left out and despite not being as proficient as he is now some years ago, the former Chelsea star has constantly worked on his technique and currently ranks as one of the best freekick takers in the Premier League.
The 29-year-old has scored 11 direct freekicks in his career, with the most recent coming in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea post-lockdown.
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