When a goal is scored all the attention goes to the goal scorer, the one to celebrate more than any other player ον the pitch. However, in many cases, the goal scorer runs to the player who provided the assist to thank him and express his appreciation. This is because sometimes an assist can be even more beautiful than the goal itself.
The classic playmaker
In the previous decades, the playmaker of a team often was the player with the number 10 on the back of his shirt. His position was broadly in midfield but mainly behind the strikers, however, he was also free to run and play wherever he deemed best.
His vision and technique were among the abilities that provided the number 10 with that privilege. In addition, he had the privilege to not mark opponents as much and rest when his team was defending. At the end of the season, it was rare that the assist leader of the team would be anyone else apart from the number 10.
Changes in the modern era
In the modern era, football has changed and every player has to run and play in a certain space. Also, all 11 players have a role to play when the ball is lost and the team is in a defensive shape.
This is an important factor in changing things in terms of assist sources. Nowadays, the assist leader of a team can be the right or left-winger, the midfielder, the striker, or even the full-back.
This article will take a look at the assist leaders across the joint big five European leagues: the Premier League, La Liga, Seria A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1.
5. Thorgan Hazard – 9 assists in 1243 minutes played
Three players have assisted 9 goals in the current season. These are Di Maria (PSG), Alexander Arnold (Liverpool FC) and Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund). However, as Hazard has managed that in fewer minutes than the other two, fifth position belongs to him.
Thorgan Hazard is the younger brother of Eden Hazard and has been playing for Borussia Dortmund since the beginning of the current season. The Belgian international (25 matches- 4 goals) joined Borussia Dortmund last May signing a five-year contract.
Borussia Dortmund paid his previous club, Borussia Monchengladbach, where Thorgan played for five years scoring 31 goals, €25.5 million in order to sign him. Hazard plays mainly as a left-winger, however, he can also play as a right-winger and a second striker.
He began his football career playing for his hometown club Royal Stade Brainois before moving to Tubize along with his brother Eden. At age 14, Thorgan was discovered by French club Lens while playing for Tubize in a local tournament. Similar to his brother’s move to Lille, his parents accepted an offer from Lens. Thorgan Hazard made his senior debut for the club in 2011.
He played there for just a year before moving to Chelsea where his brother had just signed for. However, unlike Eden, the then 19-year-old played no game for Chelsea.
A month later he went on loan to Belgian club Zulte Waregem where he played for two seasons scoring 19 goals.
In 2014, he went on loan from Chelsea to Borussia Monchengladbach and after a full season, the German club permanently singed Thorgan, paying a fee of €8 million.
Borussia Monchengladbach made a tidy profit from his move to Dortmund.
4. Jadon Sancho – 10 assists in 1272 minutes played
Jadon Sancho plays for Borussia Dortmund and has been since his 2017 move from the Premier League. In 62 matches he has scored 23 goals, which can be calculated as a goal in less than every three games. This is even more impressive when the fact that Sancho is just 19 years old gets taken into consideration.
The English international (11 caps, 2 goals) joined Watford at the age of 7 and at the age of 14 moved to Manchester City. On the 31st of August 2017, Borussia Dortmund offered Man City £8 million in order to sign Sancho. Man City accepted the offer and the winger moved to the Bundesliga.
3. Luis Alberto – 11 assists in 1570 minutes played
Luis Alberto is a key reason for the incredible season Lazio are having: third place in Seria A, six points away from Juventus that lead the table, with Lazio having a game in hand. In addition, the number 10 of Lazio is among the main reasons Ciro Immobile has scored 23 goals, 1 every 68 minutes played.
Luis Alberto has been playing for Lazio since 2016 and, apart from his assists, has also managed to score 19 goals. He is 27 years old and has played a game for the national team of Spain too.
Alberto started his youth career at Sevilla where he made his senior debut with the club in 2011 at the age of 18. In 2012 he went on loan to Barcelona B and in 2013 Sevilla accepted Liverpool’s £6.8 million offer.
The Spanish attacking midfielder played 9 games during the 2013-14 season, mostly as a substitute, where Liverpool finished as runners up in the league, missing the title to Manchester City by two crucial points.
During the next two seasons, Luis Alberto went on loan to Malaga (15 matches, 2 goals) and Deportivo La Coruna (29 matches, 6 goals) before singing for Lazio for a fee of €4 million.
The current season is undoubtedly the most productive for Luis Alberto as he tops the assist table in Seria A with 11 asssists. The Spaniard has also scored 3 goals.
2. Thomas Muller – 12 assists in 1050 matches
In second place is Thomas Muller. The German international footballer (100 caps, 38 goals) has scored just three goals this season but has assisted 12. Muller is a great player and at the age of 30 has achieved so much both with Bayern Munich as well as with Germany.
He is a product of Bayern Munich’s academy and made his debut with the senior team in 2008 when he was 18 years old. Since then he has made 336 appearances and scored 113 goals. A ratio of one goal every three games.
The above is an impressive statistic taking into consideration that he has played not just as a second striker during the last 12 years at Bayern Munich, but also as a right-winger and as an attacking midfielder.
At Bayern, Muller has won 8 Bundesliga titles, 5 German Cups, 5 Supercups, 1 UEFA Champions League in 2013 (2-1 against Borussia Dortmund), 1 UEFA Supercup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. In addition, he won the FIFA World Cup in 2014, where Germany defeated Argentina in the final.
1. Kevin De Bruyne – 14 assists in 1807 minutes
Though Manchester City are having a season below expectations and are sixteen points behind leaders Liverpool, Kevin De Bruyne has not been affected much. The Belgian is performing at a high level this season, having scored 7 goals and assisted 14.
De Bruyne is just 6 assists away from equalizing the record for most Premier League assists in a season. The record is currently being held by Thierry Henry. The Frenchman assisted 20 goals during the 2002-2003 season.
De Bruyne has been a Manchester City player since 2015 and has played 141 games scoring 31 goals. The Belgian international (74 caps, 19 goals) has celebrated 2 consecutive Premier League titles (2017-18 and 2018-19), 1 FA Cup, 3 League Cups, and 1 Community Shield.
In addition, De Bruyne won third place in the 2018 World Cup with Belgium after being knocked out by France in the semi-finals (1-0). France then went on to win the World Cup.
De Bruyne began his career with his hometown club KVV Drongen in 1997. Two years later, he joined Gent before moving to Genk in 2005. At Genk he made his senior debut in 2009 and played there for 3 seasons, amassing a total of 97 games and scoring 16 goals. At the last day of the winter transfer deadline in 2012, Chelsea signed De Bruyne after paying a fee of £7 million to Genk.
Though he signed a five and a half year contract, De Bruyne stayed at Genk for the remainder of the 2011-2012 season. He was then loaned out to Werder Bremen where he had a season in which he played 33 games and scored 10 goals. In 2013-2014, he found himself back at Chelsea and part of the squad, however, he only played three matches under Jose Mourinho for the first half of the season.
In January 2014, VfL Wolfsburg offered Chelsea £18 million in order to sign De Bruyne. Chelsea accepted the offer and the Belgian midfielder joined the German club. He stayed there for a year and a half playing 51 matches and scoring 13 goals.
On the 30th of August 2015, Manchester City announced the arrival of De Bruyne for a reported club-record fee for the club at that time of £55 million. Kevin De Bruyne is currently 28 years old, a key player for Manchester City, and among the most consistent and technically gifted midfielders worldwide.