We are reaching the end of this season and, inevitably, teams around Europe and worldwide are preparing themselves for the summer transfer window. The focus for many will be on exciting prospects and young talents from around the globe. Here is a list of 13 talented African footballers who are going to be high on […]
With the Premier League 2016/17 season done and dusted, the summer is a time for reflection. With the new season lying in wait, who were the most creative players in the Premier League last season?
Let’s take a look, and see how many of them are coveted and/or move clubs this summer…
Top 10 most creative players in the Premier League 2016/17
10) Ross Barkley
(8 Assists, 2.6 Key Passes per 90 minutes)
Everton finished a successful season in 7th place in the league largely due to the attacking force of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. Lukaku scored five times more goals (25) than any other Everton player, while Barkley was their second-highest scorer (5) and most creative player with 8 assists.
Despite going through periods, particularly early on in the season, where he wasn’t fancied by Ronald Koeman, Barkley picked himself up and in the games around Christmas showed his true ability, becoming a regular first team player again for Everton. Time will tell whether he turns out for them in the new season, with a contract stand-off ongoing and Spurs linked among others.
9) Wilfried Zaha
(9 Assists, 1.2 Key Passes per 90)
Much like Gylfi Sigurdsson at Swansea (more on him later), Wilfried Zaha was a key player for his team in the relegation battle. Zaha has had his critics in previous seasons for his lack of end product, and although Crystal Palace fans may argue, his statistics in the 2015/16 season (two goals and one assist) proved that there was room for improvement for the winger.
Zaha responded. This season he looked a more powerful and influential player with seven goals and nine assists. The Ivory Coast international has been aided by the signing of Christian Benteke, as the Belgian gave Zaha and his teammates a target man and regular goalscorer to finish the chances they created.
8) Georginio Wijnaldum
(9 Assists, 1.3 Key Passes per 90)
— Georginio Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) May 21, 2017
It’s a rather surprising statistic that Gini Wijnaldum led the way for assists for Liverpool, rather than the likes of Philippe Coutinho or Sadio Mane. The £25m signing from Newcastle United has settled extremely well into the middle of the Liverpool midfield.
Although his position is deeper than the one he played for the Magpies, Wijnaldum’s attacking instincts have allowed him to get forward and join attacks, often laying the ball off for others to finish. The Dutchman created three goals for fellow midfielder Adam Lallana during the course of the season.
(9 Assists, 1.8 Key Passes per 90)
Having joined with a big reputation in the summer of 2015, Pedro somewhat disappointed in his first season in the Premier League for Chelsea, with seven goals and just two assists. However, the Spanish wide-man has improved vastly this past season with nine goals and nine assists. His form meant he was a regular for Chelsea on their way to the title. He also scored a crucial goal against Everton towards the end of the season.
6) Mesut Ozil
(9 Assists, 3.2 Key Passes per 90)
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) May 27, 2017
Mesut Ozil has had his critics this season but the German still managed nine assists and eight goals in a season which was ultimately seen as a disappointing one for Arsenal fans and players. Ozil, though, did fail to live up to the exceptionally high standard he set himself the season before – when he grabbed 19 assists.
There has been constant speculation about the futures of both Sanchez and Ozil in recent months. If Arsenal were to lose both they would have a massive hole to fill in both creating chances and finishing them.
5) Alexis Sanchez
(10 Assists, 2.2 Key Passes per 90)
Not content with leading the scoring charts for Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez has also surpassed Mesut Ozil to be Arsenal’s leading assist provider this season. Sanchez’s effectiveness has been helped by Arsene Wenger often using the Chilean as a striker or false nine.
That meant he was able to get in and around the box on more occasions than in previous seasons when he featured mainly out wide. Sanchez’s form has seen him linked with the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester City and he may feel a player of his calibre should be playing Champions League football. The numbers certainly agree.
4) Cesc Fabregas
(12 Assists, 4.2 Key Passes per 90)
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) May 21, 2017
Although not a regular for Chelsea during the season, Cesc Fabregas still led the way for creating chances for Chelsea. That’s despite the Spaniard only starting 13 games for the champions. When he did start, Antonio Conte often used Fabregas when he felt his team would have more of the ball and have to break down the opposition’s deep-sitting defence.
This allowed Fabregas greater control of the game, and his understanding with his fellow countryman Diego Costa helped Chelsea on their way to the title.
3) Gylfi Sigurdsson
(13 Assists, 2.2 Key Passes per 90)
The 27-year-old was key in escaping the drop and his relationship with Fernando Llorente proved vital during the run in, with the Spaniard scoring some crucial goals. Sigurdsson and Llorente’s partnership matched Eriksen and Kane’s with six goals coming from the two combining.
2) Christian Eriksen
(15 Assists, 3.2 Key Passes per 90)
He may not grab the headlines that other players in the team do but Christian Eriksen has proven since he joined Tottenham Hotspur just how important he can be. Eriksen again unsurprisingly led the way in terms of assists for the north London side.
Eriksen’s ability to pick a pass – and great delivery – helped three Spurs players reach double figures for goals. Naturally, that included Golden Boot winner Harry Kane who scored six of his 29 goals via Eriksen assists.
1) Kevin de Bruyne
(18 Assists, 3.2 Key Passes per 90)
Kevin De Bruyne enjoyed his most productive season so far in terms of creating chances for Manchester City, becoming the most creative player in the Premier League. With 18 assists, the Belgian topped the league’s assist charts.
De Bruyne has notably been helped by Pep Guardiola’s preferred playing style which gives him and David Silva numerous options when on the ball and plenty of attacking runs to aim for.
De Bruyne’s ability to play anywhere in the midfield has also allowed him to become more effective as he is able to drift either to the wing or deep into central midfield when denied space further forward.