WhoScored has scoured the top 5 leagues to evaluate the most prolific, most accurate and deadliest sharp shooter from distance this season. Investigating each league individually, we have only collected the players to hit the target with at least 10 shots from outside the box to prove their willingness to have a crack.
Of those players we look closer at the performers with the best accuracy with regards to shots on target / total attempts, and those who are most clinical when working the keeper by calculating goals / shots on target - all from outside the 18-yard box.
Of all Premier League players to have registered at least 10 shots from outside the box on target this season, of which there are 11, Luka Modric and Yohan Cabaye are the most accurate. The respective Tottenham and Newcastle midfielders have both tested the keeper 60% of the time, with Modric netting 3 of his 15 on target and Cabaye netting 2 of 12 in comparison, and both have been pivotal in their sides' phenomenal success thus far.
When it comes to the deadliest player from outside the box, however, it is Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov who has scored with the highest percentage of his shots that hit the target from range having netted with 3 of 11 (27%). The Bulgarian's accuracy in general is also decent having worked the keeper with over 52% of his 21 long shots - an average that is only worse than the aforementioned duo, Rafael van der Vaart (58%) and Wayne Rooney (57%).
A look at the Italian league representatives shows that there are plenty of players who are more than willing to try their luck from range, with 12 hitting the target at least 10 times being the most across the top 5 leagues. When it comes to the most accurate player from distance it is bottom club Novara's veteran midfielder Marco Rigoni who comes out on top having tested the opposition goalkeeper with 61% of his 18 attempts from outside the box. It is clear that Rigoni will be key to any chance that the relative minnows have of survival, with a WhoScored rating of 7.05 the best of any regular starter in the side.
When it comes to the most successful marksmen when hitting the target from outside the box, Fiorentina's rising star Stevan Jovetic leads the way. The 22-year-old is having an excellent season after a torrid time with injuries in recent years and has netted 12 league goals, with 4 coming from outside the box. Having hit the target 15 times from distance this season, just under 27% of said efforts have proven to be unstoppable for the opponent's number 1.
Undoubtedly the least surprising inclusion in our investigation into the most prolific shooters from distance is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has chalked up a massive Europe-wide high of 53 attempts from outside the box. The Madrid man's accuracy is far less impressive however, working the keeper with less than half of those attempts (24) and trailling in the wake of the likes of Villarreal's Borja Valero and Osasuna's Roland Lamah. The latter is the most accurate from range in all of Europe having worked the keeper with 12 of his 16 efforts (75%), while the former impresses across the board.
Where Lamah has failed to find the net from outside the box this season, Borja has done so 3 times from just 11 efforts on target - the same success rate as Petrov - and all thanks to a superb accuracy of 69%, having attempted 16 long range efforts. His former teammate Santi Cazorla, who made the mega-money move to Malaga in the summer, has an even better success rate when he finds his range. The Spain international has scored with 4 of 12 long shots on target (3 from free-kicks), with his fairly awful accuracy of 35% from a total of 34 attempts proving that when he does work the keeper, his strikes are hard to stop.
When it comes to having a dig from outside the box, there are very few players who are willing to do so in Germany's top-flight. Only 4 have managed to hit the target with at least 10 attempts from distance, and judging by their respective accuracies, it isn't hard to see why most refrain from doing so in the Bundesliga. None of the four have registered more than 10, while only young Leverkusen and Germany wide man Andre Schurrle has an accuracy of 50%, having worked the keeper with 10 of 20 efforts in total.
Gladbach winger Juan Arango proves to be the most deadly when hitting the target, managing to score with 3 out of 10 (30%) thus far. The Venezuelan, similarly to Cazorla in La Liga, is wasteful at times though, attempting 30 shots from outside the box in total, with an accuracy of just 33%.
Ending in Ligue 1, it is two players whose goal contributions have been crucial to their respective sides that stand out here. Diminutive Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena has the best long shot accuracy in the division, hitting the target with 10 of 17 attempts (58%) and scoring with two of those. Having shone when it comes to assists, with a tally of 11 representing a league high, it is clear that the versatile 27-year-old has played an important role in Deschamps' side's surge up the table, as well as their progression in the Champions League thus far.
There are always a number of surprise packages across the top 5 leagues, and while Montpellier are unquestionably that in France's top-flight, their target man and line leader Olivier Giroud has been a revelation. Equally adept in the air, the 25-year-old has a lethal left foot that has earned him a call-up to Laurent Blanc's France squad, and with Benzema out, now is a great chance for Giroud to cement his place ahead of Euro 2012. He has 16 goals this season, with a tally of 4 from outside the box out of just 13 (31%) efforts on target proving that he really does have a bit of everything.