The top 10 dribblers in MLS in 2024: Where does Lionel Messi rank?

During his peak years at Barcelona, Lionel Messi consistently ranked among the top dribblers across Europe’s major leagues. Nowadays, having lost that explosive pace from his younger days, how does the Argentinian icon compare to the best dribblers in MLS?

He may no longer be the fastest player around, but Messi’s close control remains a thing of wonder – and has seen him dribble past hapless MLS defenders time and again this season.

Here are the 10 players that have completed the most successful dribbles in the 2024 MLS season.

10. Lionel Messi – 20

Messi only just sneaks into the top 10, but it’s impressive that he does given that he’s only started seven of Inter Miami’s 12 games so far this season, with fewer minutes than anyone else that features here.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner averages a successful dribble every 33 minutes, which is a rate comparable to the names at the top end of this list.

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9. Ibrahim Aliyu – 21

Houston Dynamo’s 22-year-old Nigerian winger is a talent worth keeping an eye out for.

He signed for a reported €2million fee from Croatian outfit Lokomotiva Zagreb last year and looks set to play a starring role under Ben Olsen this season. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a first senior Super Eagles call up sooner or later.

8. Emil Forsberg – 22

The experienced Sweden international, formerly a long-serving stalwart for RB Leipzig, is now turning out for their sister club, New York Red Bulls.

Forsberg has made a solid start in his debut MLS season, having notched three goals and two assists from his first nine appearances for the club. Twenty-two successful dribbles from just 46 attempted isn’t bad going, either.

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7. Andres Gomez – 22

Back in March, the Colombian winger produced a statement performance in Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 victory over LAFC, scoring twice and setting up the other.

He was unplayable that night, notching five successful dribbles alongside his direct goal contributions. Gomez has completed 22 dribbles in total.

6. Denis Bouanga – 23

LAFC’s Gabon international loves to drive at the opposition – an approach that’s helped yield a respectable tally of six goals and two assists so far this season.

But his dribbling comes with limited success. He’s also notched 49 unsuccessful dribbles this season, the most of any player in MLS, while his 31% rate of success is comfortably the lowest of any player in this top 10.

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5. Santiago Moreno – 23

A fan favourite at Portland Timbers, Colombian attacking midfielder had been linked with the likes of Leeds United and Rangers before he signed for the MLS outfit in 2021.

“He is a player that we believe can provide an impact in multiple positions in the attack,” promised Timbers president Gavin Wilkinson when the deal was announced.

“We are excited to continue supporting his development, and see him becoming an important contributor to the club.”

We’re certainly seeing evidence of that now.

4. Santiago Rodriguez – 29

Yet another South American – six of this top 10 hail from the continent – we’d be surprised if Uruguay boss Marcelo Bielsa hasn’t fastidiously studied every minute of Rodriguez’s 11 MLS appearances for New York City FC this season.

The 24-year-old is yet to make his senior international debut, but Bielsa could do worse than giving him a closer look. You imagine he’d love nothing more than to represent his country when the United States hosts the Copa America this summer.

3. Thiago Almada – 31

Part of Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad, Almada is the poster boy for a new breed of rising MLS stars that undoubtedly possess the quality to shine in the more traditional powerhouse leagues across the Atlantic.

But the 23-year-old is enjoying himself at Atlanta United, now into his third season, and doesn’t appear to be in any rush to sign for a European club.

There’s a simple efficiency about Almada’s game, too. His 31 successful dribbles have come from just 49 attempts – that success rate of 63% is comfortably the best of any player in this top 10.

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2. Luciano Acosta – 33

No player in MLS in 2024 has attempted more dribbles (77) than FC Cincinnati’s Argentinian wizard.

Like Bouanga, his success rate isn’t the best – just 42% – but he’s undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and watchable MLS players on his day. There’s end product, too.

The 29-year-old has also notched five goals and five assists in his last 10 appearances and is invariably Cincinnati’s standout player.

1. Federico Bernardeschi – 34

You’ll no doubt remember the midfielder from his role in Italy’s Euro 2020 victory over England, or his peak years winning back-to-back Scudetti with Juventus.

Bernardeschi isn’t your average European star in MLS, having joined FC Toronto as a 28-year-old back in 2022.

Still somewhere around his physical peak and making the most of it. Bernardeschi has been the MLS dribble king so far in 2024, averaging a successful dribble every 29 minutes.