Messi, Beckham, Muller: The player with most league assists in each year of 21st century

Lionel Messi has been in sparkling form for Paris Saint-Germain over the course of 2022 thus far.

The Argentine genius took a while to settle into his new surroundings in France after arriving from Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer of 2021.

But since the turn of the year, Messi has been back somewhere close to his magnificent best, despite the fact his goalscoring powers have waned a tad.

Messi’s game these days is far more about playmaking, though.

With Kylian Mbappe and Neymar alongside him, the 35-year-old has become PSG’s creator-in-chief and his numbers in 2022 are seriously impressive.

In 22 Ligue 1 matches this year, Messi has assisted 17 goals, which is four more than any other player currently operating in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

The assist kings in the 21st century

PSG's Lionel Messi in action
Soccer Football – Ligue 1 – Paris St Germain v Brest – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – September 10, 2022 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi in action REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

So with Messi’s creative genius currently fresh in the minds of football fans, we’ve decided to take a look at the player who’s recorded the most league assists in each completed year of the 21st century.

Unsurprisingly, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner features in the list on multiple occasions, as well as as plethora of the sport’s modern icons.

Check out our findings, with all the stats sourced from Transfermarkt

2000 – David Beckham (Manchester United)

Games: 34 | Assists: 16

David Beckham in action with Man Utd
21 Oct 2000: David Beckham of Manchester United in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Manchester United won the match 3-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

2001 – Robert Pires (Arsenal)

Games: 35 | Assists: 13

2002 – Luis Figo (Real Madrid)

Games: 25 | Assists: 15

2003 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Games: 35 | Assists: 22

2004 – Marcelinho (Hertha Berlin)

Games: 34 | Assists: 15

2005 – Ronaldinho (Barcelona)

Games: 35 | Assists: 19

2006 – Juninho (Lyon)

Games: 32 | Assists: 19

2007 – Marcelinho (Wolfsburg)

Games: 34 | Assists: 15

2008 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Games: 27 | Assists: 15

2009 – Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)

Games: 35 | Assists: 19

2010 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Games: 36 | Assists: 19

2011 – Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)

Games: 33 | Assists: 23

2012 – Eden Hazard (Lille/Chelsea)

Games: 38 | Assists: 24

2013 – Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid/Arsenal)

Games: 32 | Assists: 19

2014 – Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid/Manchester United)

Games: 31 | Assists: 20

Angel Di Maria celebrates a goal for Real Madrid
MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 05: Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their third goal during the Copa del Rey semifinal first leg match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 5, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

2015 – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Games: 34 | Assists: 21

2016 – Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Games: 35 | Assists: 20

2017 – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Games: 39 | Assists: 18

2018 – Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Games: 35 | Assists: 20

2019 – Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Games: 32 | Assists: 19

2020 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Games: 34 | Assists: 20

2021 – Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Games: 36 | Assists: 30

Thomas Muller celebrates a goal for Bayern Munich
MUNICH, GERMANY – MARCH 20: Thomas Mueller of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates their team’s second goal scored by Serge Gnabry (not in picture) during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and VfB Stuttgart at Allianz Arena on March 20, 2021 in Munich, Germany. Sporting stadiums around Germany remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Lukas Barth-Tuttas – Pool/Getty Images)

So, Messi has already finished top of the pile three times and looks set to to surpass his haul of 20 assists from 2020 this year.

But while no player has taken top spot more times, the Argentine is nowhere close to the 21st century record – which belongs to Muller.

The Bayern man’s total of 30 assists last year is quite simply outrageous and may not be surpassed for many years to come.

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