The top 10 chance creators in Europe in 2023-24: Fernandes, Odegaard, Gundogan…

There are few more impressive roles in football than that of a creative wizard, a player with the intelligence and technical ability to play passes that break through the opposition defences.

Taking a look through the number of chances created is usually illustrative of the best playmakers around, and this season is no different with star names from Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Arsenal featuring near the top.

Here are the top 10 players across Europe’s top five leagues (the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, La Liga and Serie A) for key passes – the final pass before a team-mate takes a shot at goal. We’re counting them in order of their total key passes.

10. Iago Aspas – 73

Premier League watchers will only remember that infamous corner, but those who keep abreast of La Liga will tell you that Celta Vigo’s homegrown hero Aspas has genuinely been up there with Spanish football’s standout individuals over the past half decade.

Aspas might be 36 but he shows no sign of slowing down, and is as important as ever following the departure of his wonderkid successor Gabri Veiga.

Rafael Benitez lost his job after a string of iffy results but his strategy of leaning heavily on their talisman was not a bad one. Aspas has registered 73 key passes and notched five goals and six assists for his struggling side so far this season.

“Aspas is a kid who likes football, here he is an idol and he can bring us that quality,” Benitez said after being appointed Celta boss.

“I send you a message: you have to be smart and take advantage of quality moments, not think about quantity.”

9. Andreas Pereira – 77

Fulham have been a strange and inconsistent beast this season, capable of going to toe-to-toe with the Premier League’s best sides but just as liable to underwhelm against a relegation-battler.

But in Pereira they possess a player that’s quietly been consistent and impressive this season. The Brazilian struggled to make it beyond the fringes at Manchester United but he’s shown his creative quality at Craven Cottage and appears settled. Marco Silva is getting the best out of him.

8. Romain Del Castillo – 77

Brest have been something of a surprise package in Ligue 1 this season. They currently sit second in the table and look genuinely capable of beating the likes of Monaco, Marseille and Lille to Champions League qualification.

A huge part of their strong season has been the form of right winger Del Castillo, who has six goals, seven assists and 77 key passes from his first 12 appearances this season.

7. Martin Odegaard – 78

Arsenal – and by extension their playmaker captain – were often criticised in the first half of the season for not looking at their free-flowing best.

That’s all changed in recent months, with Mikel Arteta’s Gunners absolutely rampant since the turn of the year. They’ve put a number of sides to the sword. Once again Odegaard has been making them click – as evidenced by him shooting up the key passes rankings.

Kevin de Bruyne points during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, August 2022.

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6. Franck Honorat – 79

Borussia Monchengladbach’s French winger is catching the eye in the Bundesliga.

He’s notched three goals and eight assists for a side that have otherwise struggled, sitting underwhelmingly in the German top flight’s bottom half.

5. Ilkay Gundogan – 82

Gundogan probably didn’t envisage himself sitting eight points off Real Madrid at this stage of the season – staring down a trophyless season – when he left treble-winners Manchester City for La Liga champions Barcelona last summer.

The experienced Germany international has quietly been an underrated creative spark for Xavi’s side. With a player of his class and experience pulling the strings in midfield, don’t write Barca off doing something special in Europe.

4. Teji Savanier – 83

A relatively lesser-known name from Ligue 1, 31-year-old Savanier is currently enjoying the form of his life for hometown club Montpellier.

Montpellier have a poor record and just eight wins so far but Savanier has been their brightest spark. He’s found himself regularly scoring and assisting, while his total tally of key passes is only bettered by three players in all of Europe’s five major leagues.

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3. Pascal Gross – 86

Signed by Brighton for a £3million fee following their promotion in 2017, Gross has consistently been among the Seagulls’ performers throughout their time in the Premier League.

Ageing like a fine wine, Gross just seems to get better and better. He received his first Germany cap at the age of 32 earlier this season and looks a solid bet for their Euro 2024 squad after establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most creative players.

2. Bruno Fernandes – 90

It would be an understatement to say that Manchester United’s form has been up and down so far this season, but Fernandes’ creative class remains a constant.

The Portuguese playmaker has often been at the heart of everything good that the Red Devils have managed going forward in 2023-24 so far.

He’s played almost every minute of the club’s campaign so far and notched 90 key passes, while he underlined his creative ability with a hat-trick of assists for Portugal in a 9-1 mauling over Luxembourg back in October.

1. Kevin Stoger – 94

The Austrian midfielder is having himself a hell of a season for minnows Bochum, who sit just above the relegation zone after taking just one point from their last five outings.

Back in February, he caught the eye with an excellent display in Bochum’s surprise 3-2 victory over Bayern, notching a goal and an assist to take his overall tally to five and six for the season.

Top Chance Creators 2023-24 Bochum midfielder Kevin Stoger surprise frontrunner