Europe’s top 10 dribblers, 2019-20: Pepe, Neymar, Fekir, Zaha & more

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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 400 minutes.

10. Achraf Hakimi

Halfway through a two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund from Real Madrid, Hakimi is nominally a full-back, although has appeared a couple of times on the wing this term, scoring four times in 11 appearances in all competitions.

Averaging 3.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes, the 20-year-old’s attacking instincts have no doubt caught the eye of the Real Madrid hierarchy, with the Morocco international recently telling AS: “I’ve kicked on, which is something I needed to do, and I’m a better player and am getting regular football, playing week in, week out and really enjoying myself.

“That confidence is what allows you to really just express yourself and go out there and play with freedom. I’m now a different Achraf.”

9. Denis Suarez

Arsenal fans could be forgiven for already forgetting Suarez technically played for the club in the second half of last season, with the on-loan Barcelona midfielder appearing for all of 67 minutes across four substitute outings in the Premier League.

Suarez blamed injury problems for his failure to make an impact in England but is faring much better since joining Celta Vigo for €16million in the summer.

The 25-year-old has started all eight of their La Liga fixtures to date, providing a goal and assist while averaging 3.7 successful dribbles per 90 minutes.

8. Adama Traore

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

You can always count on him to surge forward whenever given a chance, however, and the former Barcelona man is the Premier League’s first entry on this list with an average of 3.8 successful dribbles per 90 minutes.

7. Nicolas Pepe

Pepe may yet to have lived up to his price tag, but the winger has shown flashes of the talent that persuaded Arsenal to part with £72million to sign the player from Lille in the summer.

The Ivory Coast international’s 4.0 successful dribbles per 90 minutes includes becoming the first player in 50 matches to dribble past Virgil van Dijk, a stat which sounds an awful lot like it has been made up.

READ: Nicolas Pépé is delivering on the art of humiliation – the rest will surely follow

6. Youcef Atal

Probably the least-known name on this list, Atal rose to prominence last season at Nice after becoming the first Algerian to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 for 33 years.

Like Hakimi, the 23-year-old emerged as a full-back but scored his treble after being deployed on the wing, and he has remained in that position under Patrick Vieira’s tutelage this season, averaging 4.3 successful dribbles per 90 minutes and bagging the winner against Dijon in September.

5. Franck Ribery

4.3 successful dribbles per 90 minutes and a standing ovation at the San Siro. Not bad work from the 36-year-old veteran.

READ: Franck Ribery had Milan on strings so much that the San Siro applauded

4. Nabil Fekir

Having come so close to joining Liverpool in the summer of 2018, Fekir left Lyon this summer to make the somewhat surprising switch to Real Betis.

While Fekir averages 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes, Betis are yet to hit their stride this season, sitting 16th with two wins from their opening eight matches.

3. Angel Di Maria

The first of two consecutive PSG players, Di Maria has been in excellent form at the start of the season whether deployed in midfield or attack.

He has already scored five times in all competitions, included a brilliant brace against former club Real Madrid in the Champions League, while his typically direct style has result in an average of 4.7 successful dribbles per 90 minutes.

2. Neymar

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.

Instead, the Brazilian has responded in fine style, scoring three late winners against Strasbourg, Lyon and Bordeaux, averaging 4.8 successful dribbles per 90 minutes and pulling off one of the most inventive passes of the season against Angers.

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, however, is not going to let his star player sit back and bask in his glory.

“I told him, ‘You think that the hardest is behind you now but you have to work with me and I won’t let you relax! The hardest is to come.'”

READ: Neymar & the perils of having an angel on one shoulder & a devil on the other

1. Wilfried Zaha

Another player who was hoping to be on the move this summer, 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 transfer window.

But that hasn’t stopped Zaha doing what he does best as Palace have made a surprisingly promising start to 2019-20, 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.”

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