CR7 2nd, Neymar 5th…. the 5 active players who have scored the most free kick goals (2022)

Scoring directly from a free kick is no mean feat. It requires perfect technique and flawless execution. The ball ending up in the back of the net from a free kick is one of the most satisfying images you can see on a football pitch.

Over the years we have seen many free kick specialists. Players like Juninho Pernambucano, Ronaldinho and David Beckham are some of the big names of modern times who are famous for their ability to score from free kicks.

Set piece specialists can often make the difference in games where everything is a little too close. A free kick is little more than half a chance and that is why free kick specialists are highly valued in the world of football.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the five active players who have scored the most free-kick goals right now.

#5 Neymar Jr. (Brazi/Paris Saint-Germain) – 19 free-kick goals

Japan v Brazil - International Friendly

Neymar Jr. is one of the most technically gifted players in the history of the beautiful game. He has exquisite technique and unreal vision and it is a pleasure to watch him do his job on the football pitch.

Neymar excels at set pieces. He is one of the best penalty takers in the world and is almost certain to be able to shoot from 12 yards. The Brazilian international is also a very good free kick taker. He usually shoots his free kicks aside but manages to infuse a lot of power into his shots.

Neymar has found the back of the net with direct free kicks 19 times at club and national level.

#4 Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Sharjah FC) – 26 goals from free kicks

Olot v FC Barcelona - Pre-Season Friendly

During his time at Juventus, Miralem Pjanic was considered one of the best playmakers of his generation. The Bosnia & Herzegovina international was technically gifted and seemed to possess a great understanding of the game.

His talent on set pieces was one of his main assets. Pjanic is renowned for his accurate free kicks, set pieces and his ability to put the ball into the top corner from set pieces. Juninho, widely regarded as the greatest free-kick taker of all time, hailed Pjanic as the best free-kick taker in the world in 2017.

He told L’Equipe:

“But Mire has incredible quality. He may be the best free-kick taker in the world today. No, I’m sure, it’s the best…” He is very efficient and above all consistent. This is what is most difficult. “He has a lot of variations in his strikes. He is able to shoot in different ways depending on the distance.

#3 Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey/Inter Milan) – 28 free kick goals

FC Internazionale v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

Hakan Calhanoglu has incredible range and has found the back of the net in many positions. He hasn’t been very effective lately from set pieces, but the Turkey international was hugely prolific a few years ago.

He scored on 28 direct free kicks. During his time in Germany at clubs like Karlsruher FC, Hamburger SV and Bayer Leverkusen, Calhanoglu first caught the eye with his talent from set pieces. During this period, 38% of his goals came from direct free kicks.

At 28, he has become one of the best attacking midfielders around.

#2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United) – 58 free-kick goals

Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League

There was a time when Cristiano Ronaldo was considered the best free kick taker in the world. He popularized the knuckleball technique, which involves giving the ball a lot of momentum and tilt by hitting it with his knuckles.

He used to be incredibly accurate, but his talent for free-kicks has certainly dulled lately. However, he netted a stunning free-kick for Manchester United to complete a hat-trick and win for his club against Norwich City last season.

#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain) – 59 free-kick goals

Paris Saint-Germain v Kawasaki Frontale - Preseason Friendly

Lionel Messi netted the 59th goal from a direct free kick last night in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Jamaica. Unlike other players on this list, Messi hasn’t always been known as a set piece specialist. It’s a skill he’s added to his arsenal along the way.

But once Messi started taking free-kicks, like most other things he does on the football pitch, he got it under control. He has become an expert in the art of placing the ball in the top of the basket on free kicks.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has definitely made it into the list of big names in football when it comes to taking free kicks.


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