Stats show Europe’s deadliest free-kick taker isn't Messi or Ronaldo

Lionel Messi

Statistics compiled by have revealed that the continent’s most prolific free-kick specialists do not play their football in La Liga.

Anyone who believed that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were among the game’s best free-kick takers has been left red-faced after newly-compiled figures revealed two surprising candidates for the continent’s most deadly of dead-ball specialists.

In fact, according to the figures compiled by, the Ballon D’Or rivals are actually among the most wasteful when it comes to regular free-kick taking.

Based on Opta stats and compiled only using the scoring data for those players to bag goals from three or more dead ball situations since the start of the 2013/14 season, the results make for fascinating reading.

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As well as showing the number of goals scored compared to the number of shots taken, the data also reveals each player’s “conversion rate”, and the results are not good for either Messi or Ronaldo.

The Portuguese winker, for instance, has scored five times from a total of 73 shots over the past couple of seasons, which equates to a conversion rate of 6.8 per cent.

It’s worse for his Argentine rival, however, with Messi managing four goals from 70 attempts at a rate of 5.7 per cent.

Interestingly enough, it's two players long linked with a move to the Premier League with Manchester United that boast the best dead-ball stats.

Bayer Leverkusen attacker Hakan Calhanoglu has scored with 11 free kicks – more than anyone else on the continent – from 82 shots, giving him a conversion rate of 13.4 per cent.

Yet even those numbers pail in comparison to those of AS Roma midfieler Miralem Pjanic, who has seven goals from 38 games and an impressive conversion rate of 18.4 per cent.

With both players linked with Premier League moves in the past couple of years - by the likes of the Daily Mirror and Metro - it looks like English football could soon be benefitting from some of the world’s very best dead ball specialists.

Sorry Messi and Ronaldo – that isn’t you!

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