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

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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 March 19, 2020.

10. Moussa Djenepo – 4.3

Djenepo is taking a bit of time to adapt to a new league having swapped Standard Liege for Southampton last summer, making only 10 starts in the Premier League so far.

The 21-year-old has shown plenty of signs he could become an effective winger in England, however, with two goals and two assists to go with his average of 4.3 dribbles per 90 minutes for Saints so far this season.

9. Moussa Diaby – 4.4

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 has gradually taken on a bigger role, though, and has started to add an end product to go with his average of 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes, contributing four goals and three assists in the league since the end of November.

8. Eden Hazard – 4-7

It’s fair to say Hazard hasn’t settled as quickly as many Real Madrid fans would have hoped following his €100million transfer from Chelsea, with only one goal and one assist in La Liga so far, 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 4.7 completed dribbles per 90 minutes.

7. Wilfried Zaha – 4.8

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 4.8 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.”

All that said, a return of three goals and three assists from 29 appearances in the Premier League is nothing to write home about.

6. Jeremie Boga – 5.1

A Chelsea Academy graduate, Boga has been at Sassuolo in Italy since 2018 and is enjoying an excellent second season in Italy with eight goals and a couple of assists from his 24 appearances.

And as well as 5.1 successful dribbles, he also has 1.2 key passes for every 90 minutes played in Serie A.

5. Lionel Messi – 5.6

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

As well as his 5.6 successful dribbles for every 90 minutes in La Liga, Messi also has 19 goals and 12 assists to his name. Oh, and another Ballon d’Or.

READ: 10 of the most utterly ridiculous Lionel Messi stats from the 2010s

4. Allan Saint-Maximin – 5.7

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.

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

He’s completed an impressive average of 5.7 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.

3. Neymar – 6.1

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 hasn’t let it affect him on the pitch, averaging 6.1 successful dribbles per 90 minutes. He has also created an average of 2.7 chances per game and has contributed 13 goals and six assists in Ligue 1 so far this season.

= Sofiane Boufal – 6.3

The first half of a joint Premier League top two, we’ll always remember Boufal’s wonderful solo goal against West Brom in 2017, and the Southampton winger has been humiliating defenders like that once again this season.

After spending a season away from the south coast on loan at Celta Vigo in Spain, Boufal still hasn’t established himself as a first choice, making only eight league starts, but he’s completed an average of 6.3 dribbles for every 90 minutes played – from an enormous 10.2 attempted.

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

1. 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 seven assists from 2073 league minutes at the time of writing.


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