Europe’s top 10 dribblers, 2019-20: Traore, Saint-Maximin, Messi, Neymar…
There are few finer sights in football than a tricky winger skinning a poor, helpless full-back – and Wolves fans got to see one player in particular doing it time and time again in 2019-20.
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 averaged the most successful dribbles per 90 minutes in 2019-20, excluding any players to have played fewer than 900 minutes. Note: this was last updated on July 29, 2020.
10. Eden Hazard – 4.1
Hazard himself described 2019-20 as “the worst season of my career individually”, scoring just once and provided three assists in La Liga after injuries restricted him to 14 league starts.
The forward’s ability to beat players with ease remains evident, however, and with the title already in the bag, the Champions League provides Hazard with the chance to make himself a hero.
8= Mounir Chouiar – 4.2
A €3.5million signing from Lens last summer, Chouiar has spent the season battling against relegation with Dijon, catching the eye enough for the website Get French Football News to dub the winger Ligue 1’s “new dribbling king”.
“He can destabilise the defence in one-on-ones, he’s capable of making the final pass and can even score,” said Dijon boss Stephane Jobard. “He has the whole arsenal of a modern footballer.”
8= Youcef Atal – 4.2
Another Ligue 1 player who may not be too familiar with fans in England, Atal’s form for Nice has reportedly attracted interest from Real Madrid and PSG.
Such high-profile links have materialised despite Atal missing the second half of the season with a knee injury. Nominally a full-back, the 24-year-old has also operated on the wing, with his offensive displays catching the eye
7. Moussa Djenepo – 4.3
Like Atal, Djenepo has endured a frustrating second half of the season owing to injuries and suspension but still showed enough in the first half of the campaign to suggest he can be an exciting signing for Southampton.
A £14million buy from Standard Liege last summer, the 22-year-old scored in early victories over Brighton and Sheffield United and also provided assists in wins over Watford and Aston Villa.
— ً (@sfcdan_) April 23, 2020
6. Wilfried Zaha – 4.5
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 4.5 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.”
It remains to be seen whether a move will now materialise this summer.
5. Jeremie Boga – 4.7
Boga’s form has been so impressive for Sassuolo this season that Chelsea were linked with activating their buy-back clause to re-sign the winger.
Everton are now reportedly interested in the 23-year-old, alongside Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.
“Nothing is definitive yet,” he told Telefoot in June. “I spoke to coach Roberto De Zerbi to have a better understanding of the situation. I am ready for a new challenge, whether it is in Italy or abroad, but I could remain at Sassuolo too.”
4. Lionel Messi – 5.7
Some things never change.
3. Allan Saint-Maximin – 5.8
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.
He hasn’t let us down, 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. Neymar – 6.1
Neymar has only played 15 times for PSG in Ligue 1 this season due to injury problems, but he has still scored 13 times and provided six assists.
Just because the Ligue 1 campaign was cancelled earlier doesn’t mean he has stopped taking the p*ss out of defenders…
1. Adama Traore – 6.3
Not only does Traore average the most successful dribbles in Europe’s top five leagues, but his record of 2.2 unsuccessful dribbles is the third lowest in the top 10, behind only Eden Hazard and Moses Djenepo.
He has also added an end product to his game, scoring four goals and providing nine assists in the Premier League for Wolves. The highest he had recorded for either statistic in a previous top-flight season was just one of each.