11 assists so good that nobody gives a sh*t about the goal: Gibbs-White, Messi…

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Morgan Gibbs-White of Nottingham Forest gives a thumbs-up to the TV camera during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Southampton at the City Ground, Nottingham on Monday 8th May 2023.

The art of goalscoring is widely regarded as the hardest to master in the footballing world, but players from Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid among others have provided assists so good that we’re still struggling to comprehend them.

Whether they be sumptuous dribbles, awe-inspiring passes or flashes of magical skill that make you wonder whether the player in question was taught by Albus Dumbledore, some assists have stuck in the collective memory.

We’ve identified 11 such moments that completely outshone their goals and picked our jaws off the floor for long enough to compile this piece.

Morgan Gibbs-White

Former Planet Football writer and Nottingham Forest fan Daniel Storey has declared Gibbs White “the most talented player I’ve seen at the City Ground since Pierre Van Hooijdonk”.

We’re not going to quibble with that after his absolutely filthy flick for Danilo in Forest’s vital 4-3 victory over Southampton.

Alexander Isak

No words.

Rafael Leao

Diego Maradona hated AC Milan with a passion, but we’d like to imagine him perching on a cloud and nodding admiringly at Leao’s ridiculous dribble that ousted Napoli from the Champions League.

With more extravagant hip movements than a salsa dancer, the Portugal international tore the Napoli defence to shreds and added a few zeros to his future price tag before laying the ball on a silver platter for Olivier Giroud.

Lionel Messi

Where do we begin?

Messi has mastered the defence-undressing pass during his glittering career, often seeing angles so outlandish that mere mortals would be sectioned for suggesting them out loud.

But, with a gun to our head, we’re choosing Messi’s ragdolling of Josko Gvardiol before assisting Julian Alvarez during last year’s World Cup semi-final.

The humiliation was so complete that it’s easy to forget that many considered Gvardiol the best defender of the tournament beforehand. Jesus.

Zinedine Zidane

Phwoar.

Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp was the footballer’s footballer, with team-mates happy to let him do whatever was neccesary in the pursuit of immortality.

And when the results were as good as this, it’s hard to argue with their stance…

READ: Dennis Bergkamp and an assist that stopped time against Juventus

Mesut Ozil

Despite frequently appearing more disinterested than a teenager at a family gathering, Ozil was often three steps ahead of his contemporaries and contributed some of the most X-rated assists in footballing history.

This effort, a backheel against a demoralised Ajax in 2010, should be illegal to show children such is its filth content.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola has become the leading manager of his generation by building teams focused on passing and technique that leave opponents whimpering and begging for mercy long before the final whistle.

But we don’t often see long passes – calling this a ‘long ball’ would be as disingenuous as calling McDonald’s haute cuisine – that he executed during a Champions League match against Monaco in 1993.

If he’d missed this, Hristo Stoichkov should’ve been banished from the game forever. Happily, his finish matched Guardiola’s vision.

Mark Viduka

The Leeds fan in the Planet Football office mentions this jaw-dropping assist on a daily basis; we can hardly blame him…

Mark Viduka against Lazio, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, December 2000

READ: Remembering the night Mark Viduka produced an assist for the ages

Fernando Redondo

Word is that the ghost of Henning Berg remains at Old Trafford to this day, having been murdered by Redondo in one of the most memorable nutmegging’s in post-dinosaur times.

Having crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s, Raul ran off celebrating in the opposite direction when he should’ve bowed down and kissed Redondo’s feet.

Wayne Rooney

Rooney was sensational at Manchester United, but never produced anything as Hollywood as this; the mad scarper to stop an opposition counter-attack, an inch-perfect tackle and a long-range pass lighter than a Victoria Sponge that practically begged Luciano Acosta to nod it home.

Marvellous.


READ NEXT: A tribute to Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid: a ‘unique’ assist king

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the 20 players with the most assists in PL history?