Pep Guardiola: Man City boss says Southampton's James Ward-Prowse is world's best free-kick taker

James Ward-Prowse scores a free kick against Wolves
James Ward-Prowse scored a stunning free-kick against Wolves this month

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says Southampton's James Ward-Prowse is the best free-kick taker in the world.

Ward-Prowse is a renowned dead-ball specialist, with his delivery from set-pieces causing opponents all sorts of problems.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola has worked with Lionel Messi - also an excellent set-piece taker - but the Spaniard believes Ward-Prowse is the best he has ever seen.

"There is no better taker," he said.

Most goals from direct free-kicks in past five seasons (Europe's top five leagues)
Lionel Messi20
James Ward-Prowse 11
Aleksandar Kolarov7
Enis Bardhi6
Nabil Fekir6
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic6

"Southampton have the best free-kick taker I have ever seen, or at least he is in the world right now.

"He is so good that maybe you miss a little bit of the footballer player. He is a team player of great quality, without the ball and with the ball.

"He really understands the game but it is his free-kicks, set-pieces, and corners that people pay more attention to."

Guardiola was speaking before his side's game against Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are looking to make it 13 Premier League wins in a row, but Guardiola expects a tough test against a side managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl, who he rates highly.

"The quality they have, the exceptional manager," he added.

"One of the best in the league by far. Always was a tough game, the players know it. It will be an incredible challenge."

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