10 most creative players in Europe’s top five leagues
The players who have created the most chances since Opta records began – July 1, 2006 – have been revealed.
The results are fascinating, no less because they speak to who’s come to prominence when and for how long they have the dominated.
Names on the list are a relative who’s who of silky playmakers and offensive flair players.
Only two have managed to create more than 1,000 chances at league level since 2006; perhaps most surprising is Dimitri Payet, who at 31-year-old has never played for a truly elite side. The Frenchman has created 1016 chances since the summer of 2006.
At the top, however, is the sometimes-maligned-often-vaunted Mezut Ozil, with 1033.
We also got in touch with Opta who have provided us with even more information about the top 10 chance creators. Armed with games played, minutes and assists of each player, we’ve ranked Europe’s chance-creating elite using a per 90 minutes filter.
Find out if Mesut Ozil can keep top spot as the countdown begins.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo
1.83 chances created per 90
Games played: 401
Minutes played: 34,107
Total chances created: 695
Total assists: 111
Clubs played for: Man Utd (06/07 to 08/09), Real Madrid (09/10 to 17/18), Juventus (18/19 to present)
The Portuguese attacker starts off the list with a decent chance-creation output in what has been a career defined by his relentless scoring. The number (695) might be higher had he not transformed into a roaming, free-form type of striker in his mid-twenties and latterly, an out-and-out goalscorer.
9. Marek Hamsik
2.15 chances created per 90
Games played: 400
Minutes played: 30,952
Total chances created: 740
Total assists: 80
Clubs played for: Brescia (06/07), Napoli (07/08 to present)
Slovakia’s finest ever player and Napoli’s all-time top scorer, Marek Hamsik has been a consistent performer in the period since 2006, in fact that’s basically when he came to prominence, scoring 10 goals in 40 games for Brescia before being brought to Naples in 2007 for £4m. A truly two-footed player, Hamsik’s passing is sharper than the career-defining mohawk on his head.
8. Lionel Messi
2.33 chances created per 90
Games played: 402
Minutes played: 33,213
Total chances created: 861
Total assists: 151
Clubs played for: Barcelona (06/07 to present)
A real talent, is Messi. Not much we can do here that isn’t tired and done, but he’s obviously a creative force as well a goalscoring record-setter. With 861 chances created, he’s fifth on Opta’s total list but eighth when using the per 90 filter with 2.33 chances created on average.
Messi does lead the way for assists (151), however, which add to his 382 La Liga goals for Barca in this period. Remember the name.
7. Juan Mata
2.51 chances created per 90
Games played: 355
Minutes played: 25,960
Total chances created: 723
Total assists: 79
Clubs played for: Valencia (07/08 to 10/11), Chelsea (11/12 to 13/14), Man Utd (14/15 – present)
The much-loved Spanish magician places above more glossy names on this list, with 2.51 chances created per 90 to his name since 2006/2007. Since leaving Spain for London, and later Manchester, Mata has always been a fan favourite with his consummate technique and predilection for scoring curling free-kicks.
6. Eden Hazard
2.61 chances created per 90
Games played: 363
Minutes played: 27,377
Total chances created: 794
Total assists: 77
Clubs played for: Lille (07/08 to 11/12), Chelsea (12/13 to present)
The dribble king of Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard has been in the news a fair bit of late as he continues to dream aloud about what the future might bring. But as of right now, he is one of if not the best player in the Premier League, and he has been at that level for a while. His numbers back it up: 2.61 chances created per 90, 794 chances created and 77 assists in all. Much more than a take-on merchant, it seems.
5. David Silva
2.69 chances created per 90
Games played: 374
Minutes played: 29,604
Total chances created: 886
Total assists: 100
Clubs played for: Valencia (06/07 to 09/10), Man City (10/11 to present)
Probably the best player City have had since they became one of the richest clubs in world football. Silva was whizzing about in La Liga when Opta’s stats began studiously jotting every minute down, and 12 years later, he sits fourth in overall chances created and fifth when calculated per 90.
4. Cesc Fabregas
2.98 chances created per 90
Games played: 372
Minutes played: 28,174
Total chances created: 932
Total assists: 133
Clubs played for: Arsenal (06/07 to 10/11), Barcelona (11/12 to 13/14), Chelsea (14/15 to present)
A creator-in-chief, Fabregas has made a career out of lofting passes and playing cute slide-rule balls that weren’t there to begin with. The Spaniard comes fourth since the summer of 2006 for chances created per 90, with 2.98 and holds the record as the youngest player to record 15+ assists in a single Premier League season. He’s also the only player to provide 10+ in six different Premier League campaigns.
TL;DR: Fabregas is good.
3. Dimitri Payet
3.06 chances created per 90
Games played: 404
Minutes played: 29,844
Total chances created: 1016
Total assists: 104
Clubs played for: Nantes (06/07), Saint-Ettiene (07/08 to 10/11), Lille (11/12/19 to 12/13), Marseille (13/14 to 14/15), West Ham (15/16 to 16/17), Marseille (16/17 to present)
It’s amazing to think Dimitri Payet is third on this list, and second on the overall tally concocted by Opta, considering he rarely factors into the conversation when the game’s best playmakers are compared. But that he obviously is, 1016 chances created since 2006 is remarkable, considering he’s not often played in particularly strong club teams.
His brilliance from set-pieces propels him up this list, but to be one of the most consistent creators since records began – one of three to average over 3.00 chances created per 90 – is a testamant to the quality in those deliveries.
2. Francesco Totti
3.07 chances created per 90
Games played: 284
Minutes played: 20,405
Total chances created: 696
Total assists: 73
Clubs played for: Roma (06/07 to 17/18)
Despite Totti’s legendary one-club career, he has perhaps always lacked that one incredible stat to back up his talent rather than his longevity. Scoring 307 goals through his Roma career is sensational, of course, but to be ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi and other great playmakers of the modern era should silence any of his critics.
The Roma No.10 was turning 30 the season that Opta began collecting this data – he only played four league games as a 29-year-old – so the fact he is second on this list should be considered a special achievement.
The king of Rome does not quite take the chance-creating crown, but he’s closer than you ever would have thought.
1. Mesut Ozil
3.5 chances created per 90
Games played: 354
Minutes played: 26,561
Total chances created: 1033
Total assists: 128
Clubs played for: Schalke (06/07 to 07/08), Werder Bremen (08/09 to 09/10), Real Madrid (10/11 to 12/13), Arsenal (13/14 – present)
The German playmaker tops the bill both for chances created in total (1033) since 2006 and for chances created per 90 (3.5). What else can you can say? He lives for setting others up and should be considered as one of the best playmakers of his era because of that. Body language is not a factor.
SOURCE: Squawka Football/Opta Franz