There aren’t too many other acts of skill in football that can widen jaws quite like a sublime free-kick. Some players build their names on the art, while others just possess the brilliance within their repertoire.
David Beckham and Pierre van Hooijdonk are but two names to have mastered the art-form, while players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may have more strings to their bow, but they too boast an eye-catching show-reel of goals from a dead ball.
Some stars will be remembered for that one spectacular strike, whereas there are also those that have found the consistency of converting them on a regular basis.
So without further ado, here’s a list of the top six free-kick specialists to have graced Europe’s top leagues this term, the one caveat being that each entry must have attempted at least 15 over course of the season.
6. Hakan Calhanoglu – 13.95%
It’s no wonder the 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder is being linked with some of Europe’s top clubs, with Arsenal said to be watching the Turkey international closely, as reported by Turkish Football.
Calhanoglu has netted eight times in 33 appearances this term. Six of those goals came from 43 attempted free-kicks (13.95%), which suggests that he is becoming a master of the dead ball.
Here’s one from his Hamburg days which even got Jurgen Klopp’s seal of approval. Must have been good:
5. Christian Eriksen – 14.29%
On numerous occasions this term, Tottenham’s chief orchestrator has come up with the goods at the vital time, and more often than not it’s been the result of a sumptuous free-kick.
The Danish international has scored 10 goals this term, converting three from 21 free-kicks attempted in the Premier League; that’s an average of 14.29%.
It’s not just in the league though that Eriksen has been busy showing off his tekkers; this one against Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup semi-final is undoubtedly the stand-out:
4. Tjaronn Chery – 14.81%
The next star to cut the mustard is Groningen’s Chery, who has scored four free-kicks from 27 efforts (14.81%).
The 26-year-old found the net 15 times in 32 games this term, the highest total from any midfielder in the Eredivisie.
Chery is yet to get a call-up for the Netherlands national side, but should he continue in this vein of form it will only be a matter of time.
The camera work may be a little dodgy, but the same couldn’t be said for the strike:
3. Lasse Schone – 19.05%
The Ajax midfielder has been a lethal weapon from dead balls this term; four goals from 21 tries (19.05%) is no mean feat.
Schone, who is renowned for his precision from set-pieces, has also been Frank de Boer’s side’s most creative influence this term in having carved out 53 chances, which include nine assists.
The 29-year-old couldn’t prevent PSV from stealing their crown, though he has been a part of the Ajax side that won the previous two titles.
‘Keeper didn’t even move:
2. Memphis Depay – 21.21%
Wow. Dutch football seems to be reeling out the contenders this year; Depay, who is to become Manchester United’s first signing as soon as the transfer window opens July 1st, is next to feature on the list.
The Dutch sensation, who will set the Red Devils back £31 million (including add-ons) according to BBC Sport, has been in blistering form this campaign, spearheading PSV Eindhoven’s charge for the Eredivisie Championship. 22 goals from just 30 appearances is sensational, and seven of those strikes came through free-kicks.
The 21-year-old is one of the hottest prospects in Europe and given his tender years, a 21.21% conversion rate is exceptional.
The Old Trafford faithful will be looking forward to a few more of these from the club’s imminent arrival next season:
1. Zlatko Junuzovic – 22.73%
The Austrian international leads the way with a very impressive return of 22.73%.
The 27-year-old, who helped Werder Bremen to 10th-place finish in the Bundesliga this season, has scored five free-kicks from 22 attempts this season and given that he has only managed to score six all campaign, he can be described as nothing but a dead-ball specialist.
You just don’t save those….