Trent Alexander-Arnold has joined Mo Salah in the top 10 assist providers across Europe in 2023, but Xabi Alonso and Leverkusen are dominant.
Kevin De Bruyne beat Lionel Messi to the crown in 2022, with Thomas Muller and Messi prevailing in the years before to underline the calibre of player that tends to win this particular race. Hakim Ziyech did it in 2019 and then Chelsea signed him and it all went wrong.
The criteria: All club assists in all competitions for clubs in Europe’s top 10 leagues.
These lads would relish setting up the top goalscorers of 2023.
10) Pedro Goncalves – Sporting (18 assists in 50 games)
Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes has been left in the dust with his risible 16 assists in 59 games, beaten by Goncalves in 49 appearances. No wonder Tottenham were reportedly interested.
9) Jeremie Frimpong – Bayer Leverkusen (18 assists in 49 games)
Playing as a wing-back in this Leverkusen side is a whole lot of fun. He is a perpetual Premier League target for a reason.
8) Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool (18 assists in 48 games)
His third Premier League assist of the season came v Burnley. Claiming two League Cup assists v West Ham from the bench has done him a solid here as he makes it to the 18-assist mark, within one of his teammate.
7) Johan Bakayoko – PSV (18 assists in 48 games)
A few Premier League sides hoped Bakayoko would attempt to transpose this stellar record to England, with Brentford even having a club-record bid rejected for a player thought to have interested Liverpool. The Belgian stayed on in Eindhoven and has assisted seven goals in his last nine Eredivisie games.
6) Mo Salah – Liverpool (19 assists in 53 games)
It is hardly worth thinking about what carnage Salah would have caused in Saudi had either he or Liverpool been sufficiently tempted by those riches. The Egyptian stayed to spearhead another apparent title challenge and has only failed to score or assist a goal in four of 17 Premier League games.
5) Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid (19 assists in 44 games)
It has actually been a pretty slow season for Vinicius on the assist front – four in 13 appearances – but that only emphasises how brilliant his start to the year was. The Brazilian laid on one goal in each leg of last campaign’s Champions League last-16 and quarter-final ties against Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, while shining in La Liga and setting up a Copa del Rey final goal after providing two assists to beat Barcelona in a semi-final trouncing. But this might well be it for Vinicius, who is on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered on international duty.
4) Dusan Tadic – Ajax/Fenerbahce (20 assists in 56 games)
Erik ten Hag signed the wrong Eredivisie alumni. Tadic was on the market as a free agent for a couple of days in July, calling time on a productive half-decade with Ajax just before they became really bad. Fenerbahce swooped in and the 35-year-old has helped them top the Turkish Super Lig table and finish top of their Europa Conference League group.
3) Florian Wirtz – Bayer Leverkusen (20 assists in 48 games)
Another cog in the Alonso machine, Wirtz has been linked with Liverpool for a reason. Twelve assists in 23 games this season include three in one game against Qarabag. Not bad at all considering he was out for most of 2022 with an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
2) Kerem Akturkoglu – Galatasaray (20 assists in 49 games)
Not important enough to command Rio Ferdinand’s full attention while scoring the goal which leaves Manchester United’s Champions League hopes hanging by a thread, Akturkoglu has been marginally more productive in terms of assists. One each in five consecutive league games from mid-August to late September helped; a similar purple patch at the back end of last campaign included three in 50 minutes – all for different players – against Ankaragucu.
1) Joey Veerman – PSV (21 assists in 51 games)
Two of those assists helped put Rangers out of Champions League qualifying, with nine more contributing to PSV’s perfect run through 15 Eredivisie games. The midfielder only made his Netherlands debut in June and is quietly putting together a sterling season.