Europe’s top 10 chance creators, 2020-21: Grealish, KDB, Fernandes & more
With their ability to prise open an opposition’s backline, top-quality creative players are currently in high demand from European clubs.
Looking through the data on WhoScored, we’ve picked out the top 10 players who make the most key passes per 90 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues, filtering out any players that have played fewer than 500 minutes so far this season.
A key pass is defined as the final pass before a team-mate takes a shot.
=9. Bruno Fernandes – 3.2 per 90
Only Jack Grealish has created more chances than the Manchester United playmaker in Europe’s top five leagues, with 68 key passes in total, but he’s played almost every minute of the league campaign so far so his average suffers.
Not only has he registered nine assists in the league, but he’s scored 13 goals. Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has more in the Premier League.
Safe to say, Fernandes has made quite the impact.
=9. Lucas Perez – 3.2 per 90
Written off by many in England after failing to make his mark at Arsenal and West Ham, Perez is evidently much more suited to playing in La Liga, where he’s rebuilt his reputation since moving to Alaves in 2019.
Alaves are currently fighting relegation, but a creative presence like Perez is something their rivals could only hope to have.
=6. Angel Di Maria – 3.3 per 90
After bringing in the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, some questioned whether Di Maria would have a natural place at PSG, but he’s consistently plugged away and made himself an asset to the club.
The Argentinian’s versatility, able to play in midfield or the forward line, has been particularly useful, and he continues to find his team-mates in dangerous areas, registering 50 key passes in Ligue 1 in 2020-21 so far.
=6. Ruslan Malinovskyi – 3.3 per 90
Malinovskiy took some time to establish himself as a first-team regular in an entertaining Atalanta side but has impressed when given a chance, and now finds himself with a spot in their best XI following Papu Gomez’s move to Sevilla.
The Ukraine international is one to watch.
=6. Yusuf Yazici – 3.3 per 90
The 24-year-old Turkey international hasn’t racked up that many minutes at Lille this season – 12 of his 20 Ligue 1 appearances have come off the bench – but he’s evidently a useful squad player to have in their unlikely title charge.
Not only is he a creator for others, but he’s scored seven goals in Ligue 1, averaging one every 110 minutes, while he averaged a goal a game in the Europa League group stage with six in six. The full package.
=4. Kevin De Bruyne – 3.5 per 90
After finishing top of this list in 2019-20, De Bruyne was always going to be involved here.
The Manchester City midfielder has already registered three goals and 10 assists in the Premier League so far this season, but his team-mates have coped well enough since the injury he suffered in January.
=4. Josip Ilicic – 3.5 per 90
One of the stars of Gian Piero Gasperini’s dazzling Atalanta, Ilicic showed what a special player he was by scoring four goals in one game to knock Valencia out of the Champions League in one of the final games before lockdown last year.
But he suffered a horrible few months from there, battling depression after contracting coronavirus. It’s been particularly wonderful to see the 33-year-old Slovenian lighting up Serie A again in 2020-21 – only three players in Europe create chances at a greater frequency.
3. Jack Grealish – 3.6 per 90
Aston Villa’s homegrown talisman seems to get better every season and has stepped things up a level once again in 2020-21, as well as impressing for England.
With the likes of Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley brought in over the summer, Grealish now has players around him that can finish the high volume of chances he’s creating – the most in Europe with 75 in total.
He ties De Bruyne, Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller on 10 assists so far this season. The only player with more in Europe’s top five leagues is Harry Kane with 11.
— HomeOfTheVilla (@TheVillaHome) November 12, 2020
2. Christopher Nkunku – 3.7 per 90
After an impressive debut season at RB Leipzig, Nkunku has reasserted his status as one of the most creative players in Europe in 2020-21.
His performances have seen him linked with a move to Arsenal.
1. Hakan Calhanoglu – 3.9 per 90
Calhanoglu has enjoyed a brilliant start to the season at AC Milan, reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United and Juventus ahead of his contract expiring this summer.
His Milan team-mates had a tendency to miss the chances he was laying on a plate for them in the early weeks of the campaign, but he’s racking up the assists now with eight in total in Serie A.