Football

Juan Mata is the best free-kick taker in the Premier League

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Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is statistically the most clinical free-kick specialist in England's top-flight, according to official Premier League data analysed by Press Association Sport.

The Spain international has a better conversion rate than world famous set-piece specialists like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo since the start of the 2001/02 campaign, which is when the figures were first recorded.

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry is the man that has actually scored the most goals from dead-ball situations over the past 14 years, but his ratio doesn't match up to Mata's impressive return during his time playing in this country, first for Chelsea and then the Red Devils.

With five goals from 28 attempts, the 26-year-old tops the list of all players that have scored at least five times directly from free-kicks giving him an unrivalled conversion rate of 17.9 per cent.

To put that into perspective the Manchester United man is nearly three times more likely to score from a set-piece than Everton left-back Leighton Baines; another player that is renown for his clinical finishing from the edge of the box.

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Mata is one of only two active players still playing in the Premier League to make the top five, with Sunderland specialist Sebastian Larsson claiming second spot ahead of former favourites Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Beckham and Nolberto Solano.

Henry falls short in sixth place with an 8.3 per cent conversion rate, and he's followed by Danny Murphy, Ryan Giggs, Baines and Laurent Robert to complete the rest of the top ten.

free-kick

The findings - reported by itv.com - are likely to surprise many keen followers of football in the Premier League, particularly when you consider some of the other household names like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard that fail to make the shortlist.

The Liverpool captain's six goals from 102 attempts equates to a comparatively poor conversion rate of 5.9 per cent, whilst the Manchester City loanee is even worse with seven goals from 175 attempts.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Juan Mata
Manchester United

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