Europe’s top 10 chance creators, 2019-20: De Bruyne, Payet, Messi & more

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Genuinely top-quality creative players are difficult to come by in the modern era, but the art of threading a defence-splitting pass certainly isn’t dead when it comes to this lot.

Looking through the data on WhoScored, we’ve sorted out who makes the most key passes per 90 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues, filtering out any players that have played fewer than 500 minutes so far this season. A key pass is defined as the final pass before a team-mate takes a shot.

Serie A provides the most players with four and three come from the Premier League, with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold narrowly missing out.

10= Erick Pulgar – 3.1

Possibly the least well-known name on this list and arguably the most surprising given prior to 2019-20 he was considered a holding midfielder, Pulgar joined Fiorentina in the summer after four years with Bologna and has shone for La Viola.

The Chile international has been tasked with more of a box-to-box role, which has brought out some of his more offensive qualities, while he is also a handy option to take set-pieces.

10= Alejandro Gomez – 3.1

One of the catalysts behind Atalanta’s qualification for the Champions League last season, Gomez registered seven goals and 11 assists in Serie A last term but is well on his way to beating those tallies.

The 31-year-old has six goals and seven assists to his name already and also provided a crucial assist in Atalanta’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the Champions League.

10= Jose Callejon – 3.1

One of an eye-catching number of high-profile players to have entered the final six months of their contract, Callejon has not let the uncertainty around his future at Napoli affect his performances on the pitch.

Napoli may be underwhelming in Serie A, with Carlo Ancelotti losing his job earlier in the season, but Callejon has continued creating chances at a notable rate.

But that hasn’t exactly translated into goals, with only two teams in the top half having scored fewer goals than Napoli’s 28 to date this season.

10= Lionel Messi – 3.1

Well of course he’s bloody in here. He’s among Europe’s best dribblers as well. And let’s not even talk about the goals and assists.

Lionel Messi dribble

READ: Europe’s top 10 dribblers, 2019-20: Zaha, Neymar, Messi, Traore…

7. Adama Traore – 3.2

No, not the Wolves winger – who is among Europe’s top dribblers – but rather the Mali international on loan at Metz from Monaco. Rather confusingly, there is another Mali international at Metz called Adama Traore.

After starting 2019-20 by making two substitute appearances for Monaco, this Traore was sent on loan to Metz for the season, where he has scored once and provided four assists in 13 appearances while offering a regular creative outlet to a side that sits above the relegation play-off place in Ligue 1 on goal difference only.

6. Luis Alberto – 3.2

The former Liverpool attacking midfielder didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression at Anfield, but he has gone from strength to strength since joining Lazio for just €4million in 2016.

“As soon as I see he has the ball, I start making movements to get myself through on goal‚” Sergej Milinkovic-Savic said of his team-mate in December. “His passes are always perfect.”

5. Pascal Gross – 3.3

Arguably one of the best pound-for-pound Premier League signings in recent years, Gross was picked up by Brighton for just £3million yet has proved one of the most creative players in the division across the intervening two and a half years.

The German has provided twice as many Premier League assists than any other Brighton player in that time, while few players in the competition are as effective from set-pieces.

4. Angel di Maria – 3.4

Only Lionel Messi provided more assists in Europe’s big five leagues than Di Maria’s 108 in the 2010s. Do we appreciate enough just how good he is?

3. Emiliano Buendia – 3.5

The fact a Norwich City player is the third most creative player in Europe’s big five leagues yet the Canaries sit bottom of the Premier League does not reflect well on their ability to actually put the ball in the back of the net.

2. Kevin de Bruyne – 4.0

After an injury-hit 2018-19, De Bruyne is back to his best this season and, despite Liverpool’s dominance, is arguably back to being the best player in the Premier League.

1. Dimitri Payet – 4.4

After topping the list in 2017-18 and coming second in 2018-19, Payet is currently on course to regain his crown as Europe’s most prolific chance creator.

The France international also ended the 2010s having created more chances in Europe’s big five leagues than any other player, finishing the decade on 974, 58 ahead of nearest challenger Mesut Ozil.


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