The 18 Deadliest Long-Range Specialists In Football Today

According to statistics from the 2016-17 season, these 18 footballers should be afforded neither time nor space outside the box.

The long-range specialist. No defensive tactic in the world can stop Johnny Howitzer from beaming up that special sauce and unleashing his fury from 30 yards out. Goalkeepers hate them, video editors love them and your parents wish you could be them.

Using only statistics from the 2016-17 season and only factoring in individuals who managed to score four or more goals from outside the box in only the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga or Ligue 1, these are the 18 deadliest long-range specialists in the game today.

Mauricio Lemos, 21 | Las Palmas & Uruguay

Four goals from 16 attempts, conversion rate of 25%

No player in Europe's big five leagues had a better conversion rate from distance than Las Palmas defender Mauricio Lemos. The Uruguayan scored four goals from outside the box with only 16 attempts. If Lemos attempted 75 shots from outside the box, like Lionel Messi did in 2016-17, would his conversion rate stay at 25%? Absolutely not.

Still, it's an incredible mark, and it's clear why Barcelona were interested in signing the player last summer before Lemos opted for Las Palmas to focus on developing as a player. This guy seems to know what he's doing, both outside the box and professionally.

Only 21 years of age, there's no reason to believe Barcelona still aren't interested after his first full season in La Liga went like this. 

Edinson Cavani, 30 | Paris Saint-Germain & Uruguay

Four goals from 18 attempts, conversion rate of 22.22%

PSG striker Edinson Cavani doesn't find himself outside the box very often, but when he is and he's given time and space, he'll typically bury it. El Matador enjoyed his finest season yet when handed the keys to PSG's attack, scoring 49 goals in 50 games for the club last season.

Nicolas de Preville, 26 | Lille & France

Four goals from 19 attempts, conversion rate of 21.05%

Nicolas de Preville enjoyed a breakout season in 2016-17, scoring 14 Ligue 1 goals in 30 appearances for Lille. Preville was a youth international for France, and another strong Ligue 1 season for the striker could see him join the senior side's legion of attacking options. It's really just not fair. 

Seko Fofana, 22 | Udinese & France

Four goals from 22 attempts, conversion rate of 18.18%

A former Manchester City youth player, Seko Fofana was unable to make an impact at the English club while struggling during loan spells with Fulham and Bastia. However, the Ivorian found his feet in Udinese's midfield last season, and he scored five goals in 22 Serie A matches. Four of the five came from outside the box, highlighting his ability to just kick the s**t out of the ball.

 

Emil Forsberg, 25 | RB Leipzig & Sweden

Four goals from 22 attempts, conversion rate of 18.18%

How did RB Leipzig manage to finish second in their debut season in the Bundesliga? You don’t need to look much further than Swedish midfield sensation Emil Forsberg. As well as scoring eight goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances (including four from outside the box), Forsberg dropped 19 assists. With numbers like those, it's easy to see why he's regarded as the most underrated talent on the planet.

Blerim Dzemaili, 31 | Bologna (now on loan at Montreal Impact) & Switzerland

Four goals from 40 attempts, conversion rate of 10%

After a strong season with Bologna in Italy’s Serie A, the Montreal Impact landed Blerim Dzemaili on loan as a designated player on May 9. As you might expect, he's already scored some screamers for the Canadian club.

In seven MLS games, he’s scored three goals and added four assists.

Markus Suttner, 30 | FC Ingolstadt 04 & Austria

Four goals from 37 attempts, conversion rate of 10.81%

The left back is blessed with a howitzer for a left foot, and Brighton manager Chris Hughton has been pursuing the defender throughout the summer. With Ingolstadt suffering relegation, the German club has very little chance of retaining the Austrian international, especially since Suttner has been dreaming of playing in the Premier League since he was a child.

Simone Verdi, 24 | Bologna & Italy

Four goals from 35 attempts, conversion rate of 11.4%

A product of the AC Milan youth academy, Verdi was never able to make a breakthrough at the club before signing with Bologna in July of 2016. After an impressive debut season with the Greyhounds, including six goals and three assists in 28 matches, he signed a four-year extension on June 13. 

Xherdan Shaqiri, 25 | Stoke City & Switzerland

Four goals from 31 attempts, conversion rate of 12.9%

It may seem like Shaqiri scores a disproportionate amount of screamers, but that’s just because he does. He just hits screamer after screamer, that's all he does. And not only does he score frequently from outside the box, but he also has an incredible conversion rate in doing it.

He may only stand 5'6'', but you better believe the Alpine Messi packs a punch.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 35 | Manchester United & Sweden

Four goals from 35 attempts, conversion rate of 11.4%

If the latest rumors are to be believed, Manchester United will offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a one-year extension on his contract despite his serious knee injury. That's good news for United supporters as Ibrahimovic has proven throughout his career that he’s capable of anything, especially rifling in weed whackers from outside the box.

Ryad Boudebouz, 27 | Montpellier & Algeria

Five goals from 39 attempts, conversion rate of 12.82%

Boudebouz’s reputation in Europe has been slowly growing over the last few years, especially after scoring 11 goals for Montpellier in 2016-17 from a deeper role. He joined the club in 2015 and signed a four-year contract, but Ligue 1 sycophants Newcastle United are reportedly interested in luring him to Tyneside this summer.

Sandro Ramirez, 22 | Everton & Spain

Five goals from 49 attempts, conversion rate of 10.2%

A Barcelona youth academy player, Ramirez went in search of playing time at Malaga last season and scored 14 goals in 30 La Liga matches. Everton duly triggered his £5.2 million release clause, and many are already predicting that he’ll be the signing of the season. 

Florian Thauvin, 24 | Marseille & France

Six goals from 46 attempts, conversion rate of 13.04%

After joining Newcastle United and looking spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with the physicality of the Premier League, Thauvin has since returned to France with Marseille and torn it up. It turns out he might be really, really good and then Newcastle manager Steve McClaren might've been really, really bad. Huh.

Antoine Griezmann, 26 | Atletico Madrid & France

Five goals from 38 attempts, conversion rate of 13.15%

It’s no secret that Griezmann is perhaps the most coveted talent on the planet, but the French forward has committed his future to Atletico. There’s not a single weakness in his game, and although he’s not renowned for his range, he’s actually one of the most effective long-range specialists in the game so stop trying to pigeonhole him. 

Harry Kane, 23 | Tottenham & England

Five goals from 42 attempts, conversion rate of 11.9%

With 75 goals over his last 102 Premier League appearances, Hurricane Kane is an absolute force. There’s not stopping him, there's no containing him, there's no reckoning with him. You can only pray that his manager puts him on corner kick duty, but Roy Hodgson isn't his manager any more. We should all just get to high ground.

Philippe Coutinho, 25 | Liverpool & Brazil

Six goals from 63 attempts, conversion rate of 9.52%

The Little Magician has become synonymous with fantastic long-range efforts in the Premier League since signing for Liverpool in 2012. The Brazilian international had his finest season yet in 2016-17, scoring 13 PL goals for the Reds in 31 appearances.

Remarkably, almost half of those strikes - six of them - came from outside the box. His brilliant individual displays and Neymar’s clear desire to assemble a team full of buddies has led to the inevitable rumor of a Barcelona transfer, but Coutinho signed a five-year contract extension in January.

For Liverpool fans and Premier League viewers that love beautiful things, this is good news.

Adem Ljajic, 25 | Torino & Serbia

Six goals from 61 attempts, conversion rate of 9.84%

Adem Ljajic courted controversy throughout his early career by being involved in a substitution bust up with Fiorentina manager Delio Rossi and for refusing to sing the Serbian national anthem, but after bouncing through Fiorentina, Roma and Inter Milan, Ljajic found his place in Torino.

Once a Manchester United target, the Torino No. 10 is a precocious talent.

Lionel Messi, 30 | Barcelona & Argentina

Nine goals from 75 attempts, conversion rate of 12%

Nothing needs to be said.

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