Playmakers are an integral part of every football team and in this article, Osemudiamen Omondiagbe analyses the Premier League’s most creative stars.
They provide the service that goalscorers thrive on. Their ability to craft quality chances and play final balls sets them apart from others on the field.
There are currently a lot of great playmakers in the Premier League. They each adopt different styles but have something in common, creativity.
In order to determine the identity of the best playmaker in the Premier League, I did some research.
Assists are tricky to analyze. They’re equally dependent on the positioning and finishing ability of the goalscorers as they are on the quality of the chance created by the playmakers.
Because of this, I decided to take my sample set of players using big chances created. A big chance is a scenario where the player involved should score.
The ability to create these big chances is what sets the best playmakers apart from the others.
Using a sample set of players who’ve created 16+ big chances since the start of last season, I eliminated players who created the lowest quality of chances using Expected Assists (xA) data.
I then took into account the number and quality of chances the players left were creating, as well as assists.
Below is a visual representation of my findings. The higher up a player is, the more big chances he’s created. The farther right a player is, the higher the quality of chances he creates.
Now that we’ve established how I arrived at my results, let’s take a look at the Premier League’s best playmakers.
Starting off the list, we have Manchester City’s, Bernardo Silva. Bernardo has been quite productive since the 2018/19 season began, creating 16 big chances and registering 12 assists.
This was enough to earn the Portuguese playmaker a tenth spot in the rankings.
The German playmaker has been Brighton’s creator in chief over the past two seasons. He’s created 19 big chances in that period, registering seven assists.
One could argue that the quality of finishing around him has been poor, but the playmaker has certainly done his job.
The Brazillian is often a subject of debate over his productivity, with many fans outrightly labelling him as a bad player. Willian however silently goes about his business and prefers to let his football do the talking.
With 19 big chances created and 11 assists since the start of the last campaign, Willian earns himself a spot amongst the league’s best playmakers.
Another Manchester City creator, Raheem Sterling has combined excellent goalscoring with creativity over the last two seasons.
He’s become one of the League’s best players and certainly, one of it’s best playmakers, creating 20 big chances and registering 11 assists in that time.
Moving on to Merseyside we have Liverpool’s Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah. Mo Salah has taken the Premier League by storm since his return, establishing himself as one of the best goalscorers in the country.
He’s also been very effective in the creative department, creating 28 big chances and registering 14 assists since the start of last season. Salah has shown that he’s not just a goalscorer, but a great playmaker as well.
Starting off the top five we have Manchester City’s super Spaniard, David Silva. The Spanish international has been sensational for City and has established himself as one of the Premier League greats.
Since the start of the last season, he’s registered 15 assists, creating 23 big chances in that period. David Silva is a Premier League elite, and currently one of it’s best playmakers.
Still in Manchester, we have the Algerian magician, Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez’s footballing ability is never in doubt. An entertaining player to watch, he’s also proving to be an effective one.
Mahrez has asserted himself as one of the League’s best playmakers since the start of last season, creating 23 big chances of notably high quality, and registering 12 assists.
On to the South Coast, we have Bournemouth’s diminutive Scotsman, Ryan Fraser.
In 2018/19, Fraser had an outstanding campaign. That form didn’t quite translate into this season, but he’s still put up a decent return.
Overall he’s been superb, creating 33 big chances and registering 18 assists in that period, enough to earn him the third spot in the rankings.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has quite simply been on fire over the last two seasons. The young Englishman has established himself as Liverpool’s creator in chief and one of the best playmakers in the league.
He’s registered a whopping 24 assists since last season began, creating 27 big chances, meaning he might feel hard done by having to settle for a second spot in the rankings.
Kevin De Bruyne
He plays in a league full of great playmakers and in a team full of excellent creators, but Kevin De Bruyne is head and shoulders above all of them when it comes to creating high-quality chances.
The fact that the Belgian playmaker tops this list is made even more impressive by the fact that he started only 11 games for the champions last season.
However, he’s still been the best in that time period, creating a whopping 34 big chances and registering 18 assists.
He’s also had the highest number of Expected assists in that period, meaning he tops my list as the Premier League’s current best playmaker.