Top five: Europe’s ‘key’ playmakers

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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata – these are all players considered, rightly, to be at the top of the European game, yet certain statistics suggest there are some unsung heroes in the game.

One statistic highlights those players that are a constant danger in matches and create chance after chance for their teammates but don’t get the same recognition as some of the more established stars.

In the statistics world assists and goals are the glamour numbers; they are the figures that show Juan Mata of Chelsea, Lukas Podolski of Arsenal and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard are the kings of the Premier League assists on nine each.

While in La Liga Barcelona star Andres Iniesta is the man for laying it on for his teammates with a whopping 13 assists – Napoli’s Marek Hamsik leads the way in Serie A with 11.

However, these stellar names are nowhere near the top when it comes to regularly setting up teammates for chances – the masters of the key pass.

Key passes are those that lead to a goalscoring opportunity; these are not necessarily assists and so can indicate which players are making the chances but aren’t having them converted.

This is the number that saves top quality playmakers and creators who perhaps do not have a player of equal finishing quality.

As with any statistic, the lack of context can somewhat fuzzy the clarity but an average number over a significant number of games should go some way to indicating which players are picking out the chances.

The biggest surprise is that so many of the leading assist makers do not have nearly the same effect in the area of the key pass.

Some people may not attach any importance to a statistic, as many may not care about the chances that were missed, but you can be certain most clubs will be factoring in a player’s key pass average when assessing them.

Thanks to the lovely people at, we can see the unsung heroes from around Europe who maybe deserve someone better on the end of their key passes, although you will see a couple of the names in there aren’t exactly nobodies.

So, without further ado, here are the top five ‘key’ playmaker in Europe:


1. Leighton Baines, Everton – 3.4 average key passes per game

= Frank Ribery, Bayern Munich – 3.4

= Andrea Pirlo, Juventus – 3.4

2. Jefferson Farfan, Schalke 04 – 3.3

3. Max Kruse, Freiburg – 3

= Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid – 3


Do you think these numbers will lead to some of the lesser known players securing moves to bigger club? Leave a comment below to let us know…


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