Theo Walcott has paid teammate James Ward-Prowse the ultimate compliment.
For players who pride themselves on set-pieces, praise doesn’t come much higher than a comparison to David Beckham.
But Theo Walcott went one step further and stated that his Southampton teammate, James Ward-Prowse, is actually better with a dead ball than Beckham was.
Ward-Prowse is still some ways away from catching Beckham’s record as the most successful free-kick taker in Premier League history.
David Beckham ✅
Free-kick outside the box ✅
You know the rest ☄️ pic.twitter.com/jquhkeDJUE
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 20, 2020
Beckham found the net from 18 direct free-kicks during his time in the Premier League while Ward-Prowse has only scored nine of his in England’s top flight.
But the Southampton captain has positioned himself well to overtake the record for most free-kicks scored in a single season – an achievement that is shared by Beckham and Laurent Robert with five. Ward-Prowse currently has three to his name this term.
James Ward-Prowse is the best free-kick taker in the league.
ⓘ 𝗢𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗲 pic.twitter.com/z1mNdWC0dg
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 17, 2020
Walcott, who returned to St. Mary’s on loan after 14 years away from his first club in England, clearly rates Ward-Prowse’s set-piece ability.
“After every training session I see James taking free-kicks,” Walcott told talkSPORT. “I just sit there and remember watching Beckham all those years ago.
“I always thought I should have got involved with free-kicks but he was just too good.
“Now I see James and think, ‘You’re better.’
“It’s just the way he adjusts his run-up and is always match-prepared. It is brilliant to watch and it is showing.
“He is always such a threat, especially when you have got us players running at defenders and trying to win free-kicks.
“It is almost like a penalty for him these days, a good weapon to have.”
Southampton currently find themselves in fourth place in the Premier League table, with plenty of plaudits going to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and plenty of credit going to Ward-Prowse for his reliability with the dead ball.