Here we take a quick look at the players to shine this season when it comes to crossing, focusing on both frequency of deliveries into the box and the accuracy with which they are played.
To do so we placed a filter of at least 7 league appearances (just above half of the potential games a player could have been involved in across the leagues) to ensure the individuals included were consistent crossers of the ball. To further establish the players who are a constant threat from wide areas we enforced a minimum average of two cross attempts per game, with 24 players meeting both criteria.
To start we look at the raw statistics of total crosses and cross accuracy, with Everton's Leighton Baines heading the former category. With 128 attempted deliveries into the box he edges out Yohan Mollo (122) and Nurnberg playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake (118), all of whom have made 12 appearances for their respective clubs this season.
A further 4 players have made a century of crosses already (Pasqual, Diamanti, Leon and Oczipka), while Reading's Nicky Shorey ranks as high as second, behind fellow left-back Baines, when looking at per game figures (3.75). Shorey's average was aided in no small part to a tally of 17 crosses in his most recent appearance against Everton, with 9 accurate far superior to Baines' tally of 3 in the same game.
However, we see in the table below that Aston Villa youngster Barry Bannan leads the way of the 24 analysed players sorted by accuracy, and by some distance with 48.2%. He heads another hot prospect in Atletico Madrid's Koke on the leaderboard, while Italy international Alessandro Diamanti props up the table here, with an average of 22.1% still respectable and highlighting the quality of the players' deliveries in the list.
Frankfurt full-back Bastian Oczipka is just one place ahead of the Bologna man for accuracy, making his joint-high here of 5 assists from crosses all the more interesting. This could suggest that when the German's crosses do meet their intended target they create better chances for teammates when considering the likes of Bannan, Koke and, far more surprisingly, Baines have just one assist apiece.
To further establish the real cream of the crop here we have created a quad chart (below) which splits the players into those who have made more crosses but with a lower accuracy than the average of the 24, fewer crosses but with a higher accuracy than the average and so on.
To do so we calculated the mean figure in terms of total crosses of the 24 players (82.7) and the mean accuracy of the individuals analysed (32.6%). The results show that the accuracy of Barry Bannan's deliveries is a real outlier here, while 5 players make their way into the desired top right section having attempted an above average number of crosses compared to the rest of the leaderboard, and with an above average accuracy.
The findings suggest that Nicky Shorey (Reading), Joaquin (Malaga), Szabolcs Huszti (Hannover), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nurnberg) and Leighton Baines (Everton) are the most effective crossers of the ball in Europe based on both frequency and accuracy. While the latter comes out as the real star in the chart, Baines' solitary assist from a cross this season is some way back from Kiyotake's 5, so it could be argued that the Japanese international has the best delivery in Europe right now.