Europe’s top 10 dribblers in 2021-22: Traore, Dembele, Saint-Maximin…
What better thing is there in football than a perfect dribble? Noting, that’s what. And that’s why we’ve rounded up the best dribblers in Europe in the 2021-22 season.
There are dribblers that are all about speed, others that are all about tricks and the best of the best who combine both to dazzle defenders.
All are a wonder to watch but looking deeper than just the basic eye test, who were the best when it came to tying their opponents in knots?
We’ve crunched the numbers to find out, and here we’ve identified the top 10 players in Europe’s top five leagues with the most successful dribbles per 90 minutes.
To qualify for the list a player must have played at least 1000 minutes and there’s plenty of top talent on our list. Where two players are tied, we’ve placed the player with more total dribbles higher.
10. Luis Muriel – 3.6 per 90
With a reputation as Europe’s most dangerous super sub, Muriel’s ability to drive at defences with the ball at his feet is part of what makes him such a fearsome prospect off the bench.
The Colombian actually made more starts than sub appearances in 2021-22 for Gian Piero Gasperini’s all-action Atalanta, however, registering a respectable nine goals and eight assists from just 1543 league minutes.
RB Leipzig got a taste of his deadly dribbling ability in the Europa League back in April.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 12, 2022
9. Oscar Trejo – 3.6 per 90
Trejo is a forward with the Madrid-based side Rayo Vallecano and has thrived during their return to La Liga this season.
The 34-year-old veteran completed 3.6 dribbles per 90 minutes – and has chipped in with three goals and nine assists in 32 appearances – as Vallecano punched above their weight to finish a respectable 12th place.
8. Jeremie Boga – 3.7 per 90
Ivory Coast international Boga has long been established as Serie A’s undisputed dribble king.
The former Chelsea youth international averaged more successful dribbles per 90 minutes than any other player in the Italian top flight in 2021-22, maintaining those standards when he moved from Sassuolo to Atalanta midway through the campaign.
7. Ousmane Dembele – 3.8 per 90
The French World Cup winner endured yet another injury-hit campaign at Barcelona, but he enjoyed arguably his best-ever spell of form since returning to fitness under Xavi.
Dembele was a nightmare for opposition defences, looking as direct and dangerous with the ball at his feet as ever, while finally adding consistent end product.
The 25-year-old has 11 assists in La Liga in 2022 – only Kylian Mbappe has more in Europe’s top five leagues this calendar year. He’s now out of contract and will be a brilliant capture for whoever snaps up his signature.
6. Sofian Kiyine – 4.0 per 90
Belgian midfielder Kiyine is on loan at Venezia from Lazio and enjoyed a solid individual campaign, despite the oh-so-stylish newly-promoted side finishing bottom of Serie A.
He hit a rich vein of form at the end of 2021 and might be one to keep an eye on next season when he returns to his parent club.
5. Alphonso Davies – 4.1 per 90
The Canadian wingback is a versatile, exciting, flair-filled player who it is no surprise to find on this list.
He struggled to hit the same heights he did in the 2019-20 treble campaign for Bayern last season but has recaptured the form that made him a vital part of Hansi Flick’s historic team.
Oh, and he’s still just 21. Scary stuff.
4. Samuel Chukwueze – 4.5 per 90
Chukwueze missed out on the January edition of our list by just 20 minutes – but he’s certainly made up for lost time in the months since.
The Villarreal and Nigeria forward has occasionally struggled with injuries this season but remains an electrifying presence for Unai Emery’s side, with 4.5 completed dribbles per 90 minutes in La Liga.
He won’t be at this year’s World Cup following Nigeria’s elimination by Ghana but the 22-year-old helped Villarreal reach the Champions League semis, proving a thorn in the side of Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to facing Liverpool.
Ghanian Sulemana is perhaps the next wonderkid coming out of Ligue 1.
The 4.8 dribbles he pulls off per match tell the story of an exciting and dynamic winger who is the jewel of Rennes.
He came through the Right to Dream and FC Nordsjælland pathway, leaving the Danish side last summer to become a regular in France – with a brilliant breakthrough campaign in spite of a raft of injuries.
One to watch for Ghana at the World Cup later this year.
Kamaldeen Sulemana for Stade Rennais in 2021/22
• 14 starts
• 1,325 minutes played
• 5 goals
• 3 assists
🇬🇭 A good maiden season despite the injuries.pic.twitter.com/ewcKoLgojs
— Kweku Lawrence (@kweku_lawrence) May 24, 2022
2. Allan Saint-Maximin – 4.8 per 90
The joy Allan Saint-Maximin brings defies stats… and yet this one very clearly backs him up as one of the best dribblers in the world. He completed 150 dribbles in 2021-22 – 39 more than Mbappe, who was second for total dribbles.
Despite playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world for a struggling side, the Frenchman spearheads Newcastle’s counter-attacks with his mazy, unending runs.
They operate as an unorthodox manner of holding up the ball as well when he turns back on himself whilst evading defenders to wait for his team-mates.
A true scholar of the dribble, Saint-Maximin remains one of the most exciting attackers in the Premier League and a true cult hero on Tyneside.
1. Adama Traore – 6.6 per 90
Say what you want, but his place as Europe’s current best dribbler is not all down to the baby oil (although that can’t hurt).
Traore registered seven successful dribbles per 90 minutes in the first half of the campaign at Wolves and 5.7 per 90 in the latter half of the campaign at Barcelona – either separately would have been enough for him to top this list outright, while it averages out at 6.6 successful dribbles per 90 overall in 2021-22.
“Adama is a very mature player. He knows when to face up, when to pass and he’s chosen his moments well today,” Barca boss Xavi told reporters after Traore’s star showing in his second debut against Atletico.
“Physically he is an animal, a beast. He is a pure winger and he will help us. He is a great signing for the team. Adama makes the difference. He has power, strength, he dribbles at opponents and he’s solid in defence.”
After his explosive start, the Wolves loanee tailed off a bit in terms of his end product. It remains to be seen what’s next amid reports Barcelona won’t be paying his permanent transfer clause.
Barca take the lead thanks in part to brilliant work from Adama Traore to provide the assist for Gavi! 🔥
What a game this is! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/7IIQVxGLwr
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) February 6, 2022