Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: The 30 greatest free-kick takers of all time named

  • Kobe Tong

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi will always be one of the most fascinating debates in all of sport for how difficult it is to answer. 

Sure, there are areas in which there is a clear winner: Ronaldo is better in the air, Messi is the superior dribbler, Ronaldo has a finer weak foot and Messi is the number one at passing.

But for the most part, trying to separate the two Ballon d’Or winners is nearly impossible and one of the categories in which they are almost inseparable is free-kicks.

Messi vs Ronaldo: Free-kick taking

Now, we know what you’re thinking, Ronaldo just recently ended a two-year drought from free-kicks in club football, albeit with a glorious strike in the Derby della Mole, but bear with us for a second.

We’re not contesting that Messi isn’t the top dog from free-kicks right this second – he has scored five this term, after all – but Ronaldo still leads the way in terms of career totals at 55 vs 53.

And if a fascinating vote by is anything to go by, it’s clear that football fans still think that Ronaldo holds the advantage over his eternal rival when it comes to free-kicks.


Greatest free-kick takers ever

The list, named ‘Best Free Kick Takers in Football’, allows supporters to vote on the players they think are the greatest free-kick takers of all time and Ronaldo came much, much closer top spot.

Legends such as Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho as well as cult heroes like Shunsuke Nakamura and Juan Arango all feature in the countdown.

You can check out the top 30 down below to see where Ronaldo and Messi placed and who took the crown as the undisputed king of free-kicks in the eyes of the fans.


Fans name their top 30

30. Leighton Baines

29. Gareth Bale

28. Miralem Pjanic

27. Wayne Rooney


26. Jay Jay Okocha

25. Juan Roman Riquelme

24. Alex 


23. Diego Forlan

22. Thierry Henry

21. Rivaldo

30-21 summary

It’s raining legends, isn’t it? We’re delighted to see a cult hero like Alex getting due props for having one of the most explosive dead-ball strikes in football history and boy do Arsenal and Liverpool know about it.

Rooney is a tad overrated from free-kicks for the fact his brace of them in the 8-2 annihilation of Arsenal gets replayed so often, but we’re happy for him to sneak into the top 30.

Henry could have done with being a little higher, though, having scored such a wide variety of them during his Arsenal days, including a few cheeky efforts that caught out the goalkeeper as they were still organising their wall.

We’re a little sad to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing the cut for a few of his thunderbolts, while Rogerio Ceni was surely a good shout seeing as he scored 59 despite being a goalkeeper!? 


20. Robin van Persie

19. Memphis Depay

18. Ryan Giggs

17. Wesley Sneijder 


16. Juan Arango

15. Zico

14. Shunsuke Nakamura 


13. Gheorghe Hagi

12. Pierre van Hooijdonk

11. Steven Gerrard

20-11 summary

Depay and Van Persie… meh. The former has scored four during his Lyon career, which is hardly anything to write home about, while the latter’s four in the Premier League is pretty nondescript.

Things pick up a little bit from there, though, with FIFA hero Arango getting the nod alongside players who are arguably most famous for their free-kicks in Van Hooijdonk and Nakamura.

Gerrard is probably ranked slightly high by our estimations – he only ever scored eight in the Premier League – though it’s good to see a golden oldie like Zico earning contemporary praise for his wizardry from a dead-ball.

As for Hagi, you could probably place the ball on any square-inch of the pitch you so desire and he’d find a way to beat the goalkeeper from wherever you chose.


10. Alessandro del Piero

9. Sinisa Mihajlovic

8. Lionel Messi

7. Andrea Pirlo 


6. Ronaldinho

5. Diego Maradona

4. Roberto Carlos


3. Cristiano Ronaldo 

2. David Beckham

1. Juninho Pernambucano


10-1 summary

Messi only in eighth!? Come along now. We would have thought that was way too high ten years ago, but it’s way too low now when you consider he’s scored 20 in the last three seasons alone.

Ronaldo in third is also a little hard to swallow, too, seeing as he’s been so inconsistent in recent years, but we’re willing to let it slide if we’re taking his entire career into consideration.

Ronaldinho and Maradona are deserving of their places in the top 10 seeing as they’re also in the top 10 most prolific free-kick takers in general, though they both scored fewer than Pele who is inexplicably absent from the 30.

And finally, Juninho and Beckham with the gold and silver medals? The fans are bang on the money. 


GIVEMESPORT’s Kobe Tong says

I have absolutely no protestations with Juninho being number one both as the world-record holder and a dead-ball magician that could juggle about three different techniques when he needed to.

But question here is this: should Ronaldo be considered a better free-kick taker than Messi?

It’s a harder question to answer than you might think because Ronaldo absolutely thrashed Messi in this category before 2010, but the tables have turned so drastically since 2015. 


That being said, I’m going to edge things to Messi because, although his technique might not be as exciting, the efficiency with which he can score time and time again is beyond belief.

It’s also telling that teams playing Barcelona now have huge five-man walls, players laying beneath the wall, defenders running back to the line and all sorts of strange tactics just because of Messi.

For Ronaldo? Well, it’s simply not the same and I can feel pretty confident that Messi will surpass his total of 55 conversions within the next 18 months at the latest. 


But for me, it comes down to the fact that if you’re life depended on a free-kick being scored on your behalf, you’d surely pick Messi over Ronaldo every single day of the week.

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