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Guardiola :’Ward-Prowse the best free-kick taker in the world’

Guardiola doubles down on Ward-Prowse wizardry:’He’s the best free-kick taker in the world’.

Pep Guardiola again highlighted James Ward-Prowse’s prowess from a dead ball ahead of Southampton’s game with Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola reiterated his admiration for the free-kicks of James Ward-Prowse, insisting the Southampton midfielder is the world’s best over dead balls.

The Manchester City manager described Ward-Prowse as the best free-kick-taker he had ever seen in December 2020 after his side won 1-0 at St Mary’s Stadium.

Ward-Prowse Free Kick Stats:

The England international scored a spectacular long-range goal in the 3-1 loss to Wolves last the week that took him to 12 goals from direct free-kicks in the Premier League.

A tally bettered only by David Beckham (18) in the history of the competition.

Since the start of 2012-13, Ward-Prowse’s first in England’s top flight, only Hakan Calhanoglu (14), Miralem Pjanic (15) and Lionel Messi (33) have scored more often directly from set-pieces.

His 12 goals have come from just 90 attempts, though, giving him a 13.3 per cent conversion rate.

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Guardiola :'Ward-Prowse the best free-kick taker in the world'

a figure only bettered by Paulo Dybala (13.5 per cent) among players to score at least 10 such goals in that time.

Ward-Prowse’s repertoire goes beyond spectacular goals, though, he has created 224 chances from set-pieces over the past 10 seasons, providing 19 assists, numbers only beaten by Calhanoglu and Dani Parejo in Europe’s top leagues.

 

Guardiola :'Ward-Prowse the best free-kick taker in the world'

Ahead of Saturday’s match on England’s south coast, Guardiola again drew attention to the threat the 27-year-old poses. He said:

“He is the best taker I have ever seen, right now in the world.

“No player is a better taker than Ward-Prowse.

“He is so good, maybe we miss a little bit this quality of a football player.

“A guy who adapts in the same position, a team player, great quality without the ball, with the ball.

“Set-pieces and corners are exceptional. We need to pay more attention.”

Beating Southampton away on the final day of the 2017-18 season saw City win their first Premier League title under Guardiola.

And become the first side in England’s top tier to score 100 points in a single season.

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Guardiola :'Ward-Prowse the best free-kick taker in the world'

However, when asked about the milestone, Guardiola said:

“I’m not thinking of this when it hasn’t happened. It will happen sooner or later.

“Southampton. We struggled in the first game last season when we played there. When we played home, we won, but we struggle in the actions. Southampton are a tough team. A real tough team.”

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