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

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Lionel Messi dribble

There are few finer sights in football than a tricky winger skinning a poor, helpless full-back.

European football is blessed with players who can turn a game on its head by pulling a rabbit from the hat, and we’ve taken a closer look at those who can consider themselves among the best dribblers in the big five leagues.

We’ve compiled the 10 players who average the most successful dribbles per 90 minutes, excluding any players to have played fewer than 500 minutes. Note: this was last updated on January 3, 2020.

10. Moussa Diaby – 4.6

Diaby, 20, joined Bayer Leverkusen from Paris Saint-Germain last summer and had to bide his time for a place in the first team, remaining on the bench for six of their first 10 Bundesliga fixtures.

The winger is playing much more of a role now, however, and has certainly been entertaining fans with an average of 4.6 dribbles per 90 minutes, though he is yet to combine it with an end product having contributed only one goal and no assists from his 563 minutes.

9. Moussa Djenepo – 4.6

Djenepo is also taking a bit of time to adapt to a new league having swapped Standard Liege for Southampton over the summer.

The 21-year-old has shown plenty of signs he could become an effective winger in the Premier League, however, with two goals and an assist to go with his average of 4.6 dribbles per 90 minutes for Saints so far this season.

8. Jeremie Boga – 5.0

A Chelsea Academy graduate, Boga has been at Sassuolo in Italy since 2018 and is enjoying an excellent second season in Italy with four goals and a couple of assists in the first half of the season.

And as well as five successful dribbles, he also has 1.1 key passes for every 90 minutes played in Serie A.

7. Neymar – 5.1

Having spent his summer trying to engineer a move out of PSG, becoming public enemy No.1 in the eyes of many supporters, the start of this season was meant to be pretty awkward for Neymar.

But the Brazilian has responded in fine style, scoring in eight out of 10 of his appearances in Ligue 1, including three late winners against Strasbourg, Lyon and Bordeaux.

He’s been averaging 5.1 successful dribbles per 90 minutes and has also created an average of 2.1 chances, coming out with four assists.

6. Eden Hazard – 5.2

Hazard hasn’t settled as quickly as many Real Madrid fans would have hoped following his €100million transfer from Chelsea, with only one goal in La Liga going into the winter break, albeit he hasn’t been helped by a couple of injuries.

His dribbling has been as good as ever when fit, though, with an average of 5.2 completed dribbles per 90 minutes.

5. Wilfried Zaha – 5.3

Zaha told BBC Africa that his “head was a bit all over the place” after Crystal Palace rejected offers from Arsenal and Everton in the summer transfer window.

But that hasn’t stopped Zaha doing what he does best for the Eagles, with the winger averaging 5.2 successful dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League.

“I have too much respect for my manager, the fans and my team-mates to treat them that way. It was a thing where, ‘Okay, this hasn’t happened but I’ve got to get on with it.’

“I’ve got to prove every time that I’m the top player I claim to be so I had to get over that quickly.”

4. Lionel Messi – 5.9

Of course Messi is on here. Even at 32, he continues to do things that have us all questioning whether he’s even human, even at 32.

As well as his 5.9 successful dribbles for every 90 minutes in La Liga, Messi also has 13 goals and six assists to his name. Oh, and another Ballon d’Or.

READ: 10 of the most utterly ridiculous Lionel Messi stats from this decade

3. Allan Saint-Maximin – 5.9

We wrote about Saint-Maximin being our favourite showboater in Ligue 1 last season so we were naturally delighted when Newcastle United signed him from Nice in the summer.

And the France Under-21 winger hasn’t let us down in his first half-season in the Premier League with a frankly ludicrous average of 9.8 attempted dribbles for every 90 minutes.

He’s completed an impressive average of 5.9 per 90 too, and even when he fails – for example when he tried a rainbow flick over 6ft 4in Sebastien Heller – we’re usually left applauding the idea.

2. Adama Traore – 6.3

We’ve pretty much stopped trying to understand Traore as a footballer, with the winger having scored one goal in his previous 72 appearances before bagging both of Wolves’ goals in the stunning 2-0 victory at Manchester City.

And full-backs clearly can’t understand him either, with his frankly extraordinary pace and power helping him past more than six opponents per 90 minutes in the Premier League.

Those two goals against City weren’t a flash in the pan either; a player previously criticised for a lack of end product has four goals and four assists from 1583 league minutes at the time of writing.

1. Sofiane Boufal – 7.1

Completing a Premier League top three, we’ll always remember Boufal’s wonderful solo goal against West Brom in 2017, but the Southampton winger is humiliating defenders like that on a weekly basis these days.

After spending a season away from the south coast on loan at Celta Vigo in Spain, Boufal has returned with a bang, completing a ludicrous 7.1 dribbles per 90 minutes.

He’s yet to score this season and has only provided two assists, sure, but he’s just an awful lot of fun.

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