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 By Mark Rodden

Juninho says Miralem Pjanic is world's best free-kick taker

Ex-Brazil international Juninho Pernambucano thinks that Miralem Pjanic is the best free-kick taker in the world. 

Ex-Brazil international Juninho Pernambucano thinks that Roma and Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker Miralem Pjanic is currently the best free-kick taker in the world.

Juninho, 40, was a renowned dead ball specialist and 44 of his 100 goals for Lyon came direct from free-kicks.

Players such as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo have tried to copy his vicious, dipping style of set piece but the former Vasco da Gama and New York Red Bulls player says no one is better than Pjanic.

Ex-Lyon midfielder Pjanic, 25, has already scored four free-kicks this season.

Juninho, who won seven Ligue 1 titles in a row between 2002 and 2008, played with Pjanic in France before leaving for Al-Gharafa in Qatar.

"It's difficult to compare him to me, because I don't like talking about myself too much," Juninho told L'Equipe.

"But Mire has incredible quality. He's maybe the best free-kick taker in the world today.

"No I'm sure of it -- he is the best.

"He's very efficient and above all consistent. That's the most difficult part.

"He has a lot of variation in his strikes. He's able to shoot in different ways depending on the distance.

"I imagine he's working a huge amount. I said to him at the time that repetition of the action was the most important thing in order to become a great free-kick taker.

"It's tiring but it's really the most important part."

Pjanic's goal against Empoli earlier this month was the third free-kick he has scored in Serie A this season and his deadly accuracy has helped Roma top the table in Italy.

He also netted a free-kick in Roma's 4-4 draw against Bayer Leverkusen, although he still has some way to go before matching Juninho's tally of 10 in that competition. Juninho, who only retired last year, said that Pjanic had been eager to learn from him.

"Mire was always interested in my shooting technique on free-kicks and by that exercise in particular," the Brazilian said.

"Unfortunately we didn't rub shoulders with each other for very long because I left one year after he arrived from Metz in 2008.

"He always stayed with me after training for free-kick practice. We discussed things a lot."


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