De Bruyne, Alexander-Arnold, Coutinho: Best free-kick conversion rates in the Premier League since 2017

James Ward-Prowse celebrates

Another Premier League weekend, another free-kick goal for Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

With three goals from free-kicks already this season, including a dead ball brace against Aston Villa, the England international is making it something of a habit.

But is Ward-Prowse now the best free-kick taker in the Premier League and which of the division’s brightest stars can give him a run for his money?

Using statistics from the Premier League and Twenty3, we’ve ranked all 16 players to have scored at least two free-kicks since the start of the 2017/18 on their conversion rate – in other words, the percentage of shots they’ve taken from free-kicks that have resulted in goals.

Note: All stats correct as of 31/11/2020.

16. Kevin De Bruyne – 5.3%

He’s the Premier League’s standout talent and one of the greatest technicians in world football, but Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick potency isn’t as strong as you’d expect. He’s netted just two free-kicks since 2017/18, from 38 attempts.

15. Christian Eriksen – 5.7%

The former Spurs star was one of the Premier League’s most feared from dead ball situations throughout his time with the Lilywhites but during the period we’ve looked at, only two of 35 efforts at goal actually found the back of the net.

14. Luka Milivojevic – 7.7%

Luka Milivojevic is nothing if not consistent. He’s scored one free-kick in each of the last three seasons, so history suggests there will be another to add to his tally before 2020/21 is over. With 39 efforts in total, he averages one free-kick goal from every eleven he takes on.

13. Lucas Digne – 8%

With James Rodriguez and Gylfi Sigurdsson to contend with, Lucas Digne has faced a constant battle to retain his status as Everton’s set piece specialist.

Nonetheless, while Icelander and the Colombian haven’t actually scored from free-kicks during this time period, Digne has netted twice with both goals coming in the 2018/19 season. He’s had 25 attempts in total.

Lucas Digne takes a free kick

12. Ruben Neves – 9.5%

Ruben Neves’ deadliness from long range isn’t a quality we see enough of from the Wolves midfielder. He scored twice from free-kicks in the 2018/19 campaign but overall seems to let Joao Moutinho take the lead, having only gone for goal 21 times since the Molineux outfit’s promotion to the Premier League.

11. Marcos Alonso – 10%

Marcos Alonso may be wallowing on Chelsea’s bench these days but back when Antonio Conte was in charge the Spaniard’s goal threat from left wing-back was an integral aspect of the Blues’ attacking play. 2017/18 saw him make the onion bag ripple twice from free-kicks and having only taken 20 efforts in total during this time period, a 10% goal rate certainly isn’t to be sniffed at.

10. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 10%

Despite being widely revered as arguably the best set piece taker around, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s return for goals isn’t as outstanding as you might assume. While three over the last two seasons certainly isn’t a bad return, the number of tries it’s taken him to get to that total (30) only gets the right-back – who Transfermarkt value at £99m – a place in the top ten.

9. Granit Xhaka – 10.5%

Something of a surprise inclusion, it’s easy to forget the 2018/19 season saw Granit Xhaka net twice from free-kicks for Arsenal. The Swiss international isn’t exactly notorious for goals though, which is perhaps why he’s only taken 19 attempts from dead ball situations overall.

8. Aaron Cresswell – 12.5%

Another member of the two-goal club, Aaron Cresswell bagged free-kicks in 2017/18 and 2019/20. But he’s recorded the least attempts of anyone in our rankings to this point with just 16 in total, leaving him with a one-in-eight strike-rate.

7. James Maddison – 12.9%

James Maddison is one of just two players to have scored three free-kick goals in a single season during the time period we’ve looked at, managing the feat in his debut Premier League campaign. He’s only been able to add one to his tally since then though, despite taking a total of 31 efforts at goal from free-kicks.

James Maddison free kick

=5. Harry Wilson – 16.7%

Deadly free-kicks is Harry Wilson’s most recognised calling card and the Liverpool midfielder got the chance to show that on loan at Bournemouth last season when he scored twice from such scenarios. Having only tried 12 free-kick shots in total, that’s a pretty solid return.

=5. Riyad Mahrez – 16.7%

Man City’s wing wizard has scored from free-kicks in two of the last three seasons, including two strikes during 2019/20, and he’s certainly made the most of the opportunities he’s had. With three goals from 18 attempts, his free-kick strike rate stands at an impressive one-in-six.

4. James Ward-Prowse – 19.5%

When all factors are considered, James Ward-Prowse probably is the best free-kick goalscorer on this list.

He’s netted the most during the period we’ve looked at – eight – and is the only Premier League player to have scored a free-kick in each of the last three seasons, as well leading the charts for the current campaign.

However, having also taken the most attempts of anybody with 41, his conversion rate is actually trumped by three other players.

James Ward-Prowse free kick

3. Philippe Coutinho – 20%

Philippe Coutinho was one of the Premier League’s top goalscorers from long-range during his time at Liverpool and while that only resulted in two free-kick goals from the seasons we’ve looked at, the fact he managed it from just ten attempts shows how potent that aspect of his game was when donning the Reds jersey.

2. Juan Mata – 22.2%

He may be some way down the pecking order at Old Trafford these days but Juan Mata’s high conversion rate here is a reminder of how much talent Manchester United’s ever-marginalised maestro possesses.

1. David Silva – 27.3%

One of the greatest magicians in Premier League history, David Silva’s netting prowess from free-kicks was just one aspect of his game that made the Spaniard such a crucial player forManchester City. From 2017/18 until his departure in the summer, just eleven attempts resulted in three goals, giving him the best conversion rate of anybody in the Premier League. 

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