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03 Jun 2016 by TSZ

Can TSZ find the next Dimitri Payet?

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With the top five European leagues finished for the season, the team's attentions will turn to improving their squads for next season. Here at TSZ we will be looking at a selection of players which could improve the creativity of a side; players featured could realistically be transferred this summer, with a mix of more well-known and not so well-known names featuring.

We will split up the top five European leagues, with assists forming the basis of the ranking system. Information on key passes per game, goals scored and their assist ranking out of all the players in the top five leagues will also be provided. All information will solely be collected from league matches and data will be used from whoscored.com.

When we talk about creative players, names such as Manchester City’s David Silva and Real Madrid’s and German International Toni Kroos pop to your mind, however this season one player has surpassed the more well-known names and that is of course Dimitri Payet of West Ham.

The French international has been a revelation this season and added a huge amount of creativity to West Ham, showing his worth in terms of assists and key passes per game. So the question is, can we here at TSZ find the next Dimitri Payet?

Serie A
First up we will look at Serie A in Italy and see who have been the creative geniuses in the past season.

Player Assists Key Passes Per Game Goals Assist Ranking
Miralem Pjanic 12 2.4 10 T9th
Paul Pogba 12 1.5 8 T9th
Marek Hamsik 11 2.5 6 T14th
Riccardo Saponara 11 2.2 5 T14th
Lorenzo Insigne 10 1.8 12 T22nd
Paulo Dybala 9 2.1 19 T29th
Giacomo Bonaventura 8 2.1 6 T38th
Alejandro Gomez 7 1.8 7 T49th
Alvaro Morata 7 0.8 7 T49th
Franco Vazquez 7 1.5 8 T49th


Miralem Pjanic (Roma)- The most creative player in Serie A last season was the little magician playing in central midfield for Roma. Pjanic led the way in terms of assists in Serie A, whilst ranking 9th best when comparing him to players throughout the top five leagues in Europe. The Bosnian International also has goals to his game too, including a deadly kick free kick ability to wow fans! Roma have reportedly got Financial Fair Play concerns and surely will have plenty of suitors if they choose to cash in on their prized asset.

Paul Pogba (Juventus)- This man needs no introduction! Regarded as one of if not the best young midfielder in world football. Pogba matched the level of Pjanic in his ability to assist last season and likewise has goals in his game, including a powerful and precise long shot ability. Despite already being at Juventus, one of the European big hitters, Pogba would spark a bidding war if he decided to move from Juventus this summer.

Riccardo Saponara (Empoli)- Now for a player who will be less well known to worldwide football fans. The talented midfielder plays in attacking midfield for Empoli and has enjoyed an excellent season, with only Pogba and Pjanic creating more goals. Saponara is less prolific when it comes to goal scoring but prefers to be the playmaker, which is evident by his impressive key passes per game figures. With reported interest from Juventus and Arsenal, could Riccardo Saponara be the next big thing to come out of Italian Football?

Other worthy notable names featured on the list include striker Paulo Dybala, who has the potential to be the best striker in world football so watch out for him in the next few years. Also Marek Hamsik is up there with the best creative talent in Italy (England and Wales watch out for the Slovakia International in the summer- you have been warned!).

Premier League

Next up, the Premier League stars that have demonstrated their creative ability over the last season.

Player Assists Key Passes Per Game Goals Assist Ranking
Mesut Ozil 19 4.2 6 1st
Christian Eriksen 13 3.3 6 T7th
Dimitri Payet 12 4 9 T9th
Dusan Tadic 12 2.2 7 T9th
David Silva 11 2.8 2 T14th
James Milner 11 2.2 5 T14th
Riyad Mahrez 11 1.8 17 T14th
Dele Alli 9 1.7 10 T29th
Erik Lamela 9 2.2 5 T29th
Kevin De Bruyne 9 3.2 7 T29th


A lot of the names featured on this list are those that you would expect to see up there come the end of the season, however congratulations must go to Mesut Ozil who ranked as the most creative player in terms of assists in the top five leagues in Europe. Nevertheless, there are one or two names which you wouldn’t necessarily have expected to see at the start of the season.

Dusan Tadic (Southampton)- Not a player that seems to grab the headlines every week but his creativity stats speak for itself. In terms of assists, Tadic was the joint 3rd best in the Premier League and joint 9th best in the top five leagues in Europe. Will Southampton have to try and fend off interest for another one of their stars again this summer?

Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)- At the start of the season, hands up who would have thought Riyad Mahrez would have been voted PFA Player of the Season after playing a crucial part in the unlikely, but amazing success of Leicester City. His ability to set up his team mates see him ranked up there alongside David Silva but it’s his goal scoring ability which sets him apart from the other players on the list. Will Mahrez be around to help Leicester in the Champions League or will he use his excellent season as a springboard to a bigger club?

German Bundesliga

Next stop is Germany, let’s see who were the assist kings here. Will it be the usual suspects or will we uncover a few diamonds in the rough?

Player Assists Key Passes Per Game Goals Assist Ranking
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 15 2.7 11 5th
Karim Bellarabi 11 1.3 6 T14th
Raffael 10 1.8 13 T22nd
Zlatko Junuzovic 10 2.8 4 T22nd
Douglas Costa 9 1.8 4 T29th
Lars Stindl 8 1.8 7 T38th
Mahmoud Dahoud 8 1 5 T38th
Gonzalo Castro 7 1.1 3 T49th
Kevin Volland 7 1.3 8 T49th
Shinji Kagawa 7 1.4 9 T49th


Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund)- The Armenia International has been in red hot form for Borussia Dortmund this season and leads the way in terms of assists in Germany as well as showing the ability to get into double figures with his goal scoring. Mkhitaryan enjoys being the playmaker of the team and can have a big influence going forward which can be seen by his impressive key passes per game figure. In recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation surrounding Mkhitaryan and a move to the Premier League. Will we see him here in England next year or is this simply a ploy to bump up his pay packet with new contract talks ongoing with Dortmund!

Zlatko Junuzovic (Werder Bremen)- Another lesser known player now is the central midfielder for Werder Bremen. Junuzovic has performed to a very high standard in an average team with Werder Bremen finishing the season in 13th place. Only Karim Bellarabi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had more assists than Junuzovic, whilst his high key passes per game figure of 2.8 saw him ranked within the top three in the German Bundesliga. The Austrian International is in his prime now and could flourish with a move to a better club. Junuzovic is known as a free kick specialist so keep an eye out for him when Austria play in Euro 2016.

La Liga
Now in Spain, we all know a couple of names that will feature on this list. Step forward Mr Messi and Mr Ronaldo but there are a few surprises on the list too!

Player Assists Key Passes Per Game Goals Assist Ranking
Lionel Messi 16 2.3 26 T3rd
Luis Suarez 16 1.6 40 T3rd
Koke 14 2.2 5 6th
Neymar 12 3 24 T9th
Cristiano Ronaldo 11 1.4 35 T14th
Gareth Bale 10 2.2 19 T22nd
Marco Asensio 10 2 4 T22nd
Roberto Soldado 10 1 5 T22nd
Toni Kroos 10 1.8 1 T22nd
Jonathan Viera 9 2.2 10 T29th


Marco Asensio (Espanyol)- The attacking midfielder was on loan at Espanyol from Real Madrid last year and enjoyed a brilliant season often being used a left winger. Asensio was the top player in terms of assists behind the usual suspects from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. He is more of a creative talent and does need to add more goals to his game but has time on his side, only being 20 years of age- a potential future replacement for Ronaldo or a good buy for a top club if surplus to requirements possibly.

Jonathan Viera (Las Palmas)- A definite surprise name to feature among the creative talent from La Liga. The 26-year-old has played predominantly in attacking midfield this season for Las Palmas and has been brilliant in helping them survive in La Liga after their promotion from the Segunda Division just last year. Viera features in the top 10 courtesy of his nine assists, whilst also boasting 2.2 key passes per game which sees him ranked inside the top five in this category. The attacking midfielder also has an eye for goal getting into double figures with 10. This guy surely must have attracted the attention of a number of clubs with his impressive displays this season!

Koke (Atletico Madrid)- It’s no surprise that he features in the list given his brilliant passing ability as he is the player that makes Atletico tick in midfield. In recent days, Koke has stated his desire to stay at Atletico but perhaps a future replacement for Iniesta when he decides to call it a day?

Ligue 1

Last but not least we will look at the creative talent in France over the last season- remember this is where West Ham found the excellent Payet doing his business down in Marseille!

Player Assists Key Passes Per Game Goals Assist Ranking
Angel Di Maria 18 3.4 10 2nd
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 13 1.5 38 T7th
Ryad Boudebouz 11 3.1 2 T14th
Michy Batshuayi 9 0.8 17 T29th
Nabil Dirar 9 1.5 2 T29th
Nicolas de Preville 9 2.1 6 T29th
Julien Feret 8 1.9 4 T38th
Rachid Ghezzal 8 1.6 8 T38th
Billy Ketkeophomphone 7 1.1 5 T49th
Giovanni Sio 7 0.9 7 T49th


Zlatan Ibrahimovich (Paris Saint-Germain)- At the age of 34, the enigmatic Swede is still going strong and was the 2nd most creative player in France last year, only behind his team mate Angel Di Maria. The striker has arguably got better with age and is out of contract this summer. Links with Manchester United and a possible reunion with Jose Mourinho are strong at the moment, but could he succeed where Di Maria failed?

Both Ryad Boudebouz (Montpellier) and Rachid Ghezzal (Lille) feature on the list from Algeria to go along with Riyad Mahrez, who was sensational this year in the Premier League. Ryad Boudebouz only falls behind the PSG duo when it comes to assists and is 2nd in France when it comes to key passes per game, but he does need to add more goals to his game. Rachid Ghezzal has shown the ability to score more often but cannot match the high standards of Boudebouz in terms of assist and key passes per game.

Notable mentions must go to both Nicolas de Preville (Reims) and Julien Feret (Caen) who feature in both the top 10 lists of assists and key passes per game, however, Feret is 33 years of age and not a viable transfer target but striker De Preville could be a surprise name to feature on a few club's shortlists. Nevertheless, teams looking for a creative striker from France will surely have Michy Batshuayi (Marseille) towards the top of their hit list, with West Ham and Tottenham just a couple of teams linked with the impressive forward.

Across the top five leagues in Europe, there have been a few surprise names to feature among the big names when it comes to creativity over the last season. It will be interesting to see the progression of these players featured in the next few seasons and whether we have picked out the so called next Dimitri Payet!

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