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Top 10 Set-Piece Takers in Football (2024)

In the world of football, set pieces are moments in the game that can drastically alter the outcome within seconds. These are opportunities arising from free kicks, corners, and penalties, which allow teams to execute pre-planned strategies to score or create significant scoring opportunities. Excelling at set pieces requires precision, creativity, composure, and an intuitive understanding of the game’s dynamics. The top set-piece takers are not just skilled in striking the ball but also in reading the game, making them invaluable assets to their teams. As of 2024, here are the top 10 set-piece takers in football, each bringing a unique skill set to the table:

1. Lionel Messi

Known for his magical left foot, Messi has a reputation for converting free kicks into goals with remarkable consistency. His ability to curve the ball over walls and place it beyond the reach of goalkeepers is unparalleled. Messi’s set-piece goals have been crucial for his teams, showcasing his precision and calm under pressure.

2. James Ward-Prowse

The English midfielder has carved out a niche for himself as one of the best free-kick takers in the world. Ward-Prowse’s technique, especially from dead-ball situations, is textbook-perfect. His ability to deliver balls with both power and accuracy makes him a constant threat.

3. Trent Alexander-Arnold

The Liverpool right-back has redefined the role of a defender with his exceptional set-piece delivery. Alexander-Arnold’s crosses and corners are as lethal as his direct free kicks, showcasing his incredible range and precision. His vision and execution make him a pivotal figure in Liverpool’s attacking play.

4. Hakan Çalhanoğlu

Widely regarded as one of the best free-kick takers in the world, Çalhanoğlu has a unique ability to score from almost any position in the attacking half. His technique involves striking the ball with power and swerve, making it extremely difficult for goalkeepers to predict the trajectory.

5. Kevin De Bruyne

The Belgian midfielder is known for his extraordinary vision and passing accuracy, qualities that extend to his set-piece delivery. De Bruyne’s ability to find teammates in crowded boxes or score directly from free kicks adds a significant edge to Manchester City’s offensive play.

6. Joshua Kimmich

Kimmich, operating primarily as a midfielder or right-back for Bayern Munich, brings versatility and precision to his set-piece deliveries. His intelligence in choosing whether to go for goal or pick out a teammate makes each free kick or corner a potential assist or scoring opportunity.

7. Toni Kroos

The German midfielder is synonymous with consistency in set-piece situations. Kroos possesses the rare ability to deliver the ball with both power and finesse, making him a crucial asset for Real Madrid. His corners and free kicks are often tailored with pinpoint accuracy, leading to scoring opportunities.

8. Bruno Fernandes

Since joining Manchester United, Fernandes has quickly established himself as one of the premier set-piece specialists in the Premier League. His technique, especially on penalties and free kicks, combines composure with precision, often resulting in crucial goals for his team.

9. James Maddison

Excelling in the art of set-piece execution, Maddison has emerged as a distinguished figure in football, known for his remarkable ability to turn dead-ball situations into genuine goal-scoring opportunities. Playing primarily as an attacking midfielder, his contributions in this area have been invaluable for his team.

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

Although perhaps more renowned for his all-around attacking prowess, Ronaldo remains a formidable set-piece taker. His signature free-kick stance and powerful strikes have become iconic, with numerous memorable goals from direct free kicks throughout his career. Ronaldo’s aerial threat also makes him a primary target on corners.These players exemplify the art of set-piece taking, combining technical skill with a deep understanding of the game’s tactical aspects. Their ability to turn a static moment into a dynamic scoring opportunity sets them apart, making them among the most feared and respected specialists in football.


  • Ilkan Gundogan
  • Paulo Dybala
  • Jorginho
  • James Maddison
  • Reece James
  • Neymar
  • Martin Odegaard
  • Eberechi Eze
  • David Alaba
  • Riyad Mahrez
  • Marcos Alonso
  • Mohammed Salah
  • Robert Lewandowski
  • Julian Alvarez
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