Sharp-shooter Neves thinking outside box

12 Nov 2019
Ruben Neves, Wolves

Wolves midfielder has six goals despite having four touches in opposition area, making one of the League's specialists from distance

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Four touches in the opposition penalty area, six goals.

Ruben Neves's Premier League statistics show he does not need to spend much time in the box to get on the scoresheet, as he highlighted in spectacular style on Sunday.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder stunned Aston Villa with a ferocious strike after Joao Moutinho teed him up from a free-kick, continuing his remarkable knack for finding the net from distance.

Watch Neves score against Villa

Neves's average of 1.5 goals to touches in the opposition box is the best ratio in the Premier League since he made his debut in August 2018, which he marked with a superb free-kick as Wolves kicked off their return to the top flight with a 2-2 draw against Everton.

Only three players, Douglas Luiz, Matty Longstaff and Ben Gibson, come close to Neves's penchant for scoring despite few penalty-area touches.

But their combined total of minutes played in that period is less than a quarter of the Wolves midfielder's time on the pitch.

Greatest rate of goals/touches in box
Player Mins played Goals Touches in opp. box Goals/touches in opp. box
Ruben Neves 3881 6 4 1.5
Douglas Luiz 547 2 2 1.0
Matty Longstaff 269 1 1 1.0
Ben Gibson 63 1 1 1.0
Luka Milivojevic 4396 14 26 0.54

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Neves has unsurprisingly established himself as a specialist in scoring from distance, with only James Maddison, who has seven, and Christian Eriksen, with six, scoring more goals from outside the area since the start of 2018/19.

But his two penalties mean his ratio of scoring 66.7 per cent of his goals from outside the box falls short of the all-time long-range experts in Premier League history.

Pedro Mendes, who played for Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur, is the only man with six goals or more to have scored every one from outside the area.

Highest % of goals from outside box
Player Goals Goals outside box % outside
Pedro Mendes 6 6 100
Tugay 10 9 90.0
Granit Xhaka 7 6 85.7
Tom Huddlestone 12 10 83.3
Thomas Hitzlsperger 10 8 80.0
Xabi Alonso 14 11 78.6
Dietmar Hamann 12 9 75.0
Dean Gordon 8 6 75.0
Ryan Taylor 8 6 75.0
Temuri Ketsbaia 8 6 75.0
Kyle Walker 7 5 71.4
Adel Taarabt 7 5 71.4
Steve Staunton 13 9 69.2
David Ginola 21 14 66.7
Phil Neville 9 6 66.7
Jason Dodd 9 6 66.7
Stiliyan Petrov 9 6 66.7
Ruben Neves 6 4 66.7
Danny Mills 6 4 66.7

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