The 10 Most Creative Players in Europe This Season
Football has completely transformed since the golden generation of Spain and Pep Guardiola's Barcelona arrived on the scene and put a greater emphasis on creativity.
Those able to dictate the flow of a football match have become highly coveted in the transfer market. Many clubs are trying to emulate these wonderful teams with the style that has become known as tiki-taka.
Here I divulge the top 10 creative players I have witnessed across Europe this season.
10. Paul Scholes
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Paul Scholes is undeniably a legend of the game.
The Manchester United midfielder is still performing to an extremely high standard at 37 years old and after coming out of retirement this season.
Xavi, in a recent interview, stated: "In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen, the most complete, is Scholes."
9. Juan Mata, Chelsea
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Juan Mata has enjoyed a remarkable season in the Premier League, after joining Chelsea from Valencia last summer.
The Spanish international has adapted immediately, becoming the Blues' main creative force, totalling 22 assists already this season.
The 24-year-old has developed his passing in England, expanding his repertoire to suit whichever style of football Chelsea decide to deploy.
8. Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich
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Franck Ribery has regained his best form in the Bundesliga this season with Bayern Munich.
The French international is a wonderful crosser of the ball, with both feet, from both the dead ball or while dribbling at a fast pace.
Ribery has created 23 goals for the Champions League finalists so far this season.
7. Eden Hazard, Lille
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Eden Hazard is probably the most coveted creative player in Europe.
The Belgium international has been a sensation in Ligue 1 over the past seasons with Lille and is finally set to make a big money transfer this summer.
The 21-year-old would seamlessly fit in to any side in European football, with a low centre of gravity and the ability to open up the toughest defences in Europe.
We look forward to seeing Hazard dazzle us on a regular basis in the future with his next club. He is bound to be guaranteed an offer on the biggest stage of them all, the Champions League.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
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Perhaps not the most obvious candidate for this list, after becoming an out-and-out goalscorer in recent years, but Cristiano Ronaldo has been adding many more assists to his game this season.
The former Manchester United player has been a superb crosser of the ball since starring in the Premier League, but his vision is some what underrated.
The Portuguese international is creative in perhaps the greatest variety of ways in comparison to the other players on this list. Aside from the traditional ways to open up the opposition, Ronaldo's movement pulls defences apart and opens up space for his teammates to provide indirect assists.
The 27-year-old is two-footed and possesses both power and finesse as one of Europe's most creative forces.
5. David Silva, Manchester City
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David Silva is unfortunate enough to be an international for a team that possesses an unlimited number of similar players to him. Therefore, Silva has been forced to leave Spain in order to gain the plaudits he deserves.
The Manchester City star has taken his game to new heights in the Premier League and is now gaining greater recognition than when he was playing with Valencia.
If not for a small blip in recent months, the Spanish international would have been a strong contender for the PFA player of the year.
4. Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid
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Mesut Ozil has been a huge success since joining Real Madrid two seasons ago. He has provided the most assists in the Primera Liga with 33 since signing from Werder Bremen in 2010.
Ozil has a terrific ability to apply the perfect weight to a pass which compliments his incredible imagination to unlock the opposition's defence.
It is now beyond doubt, after establishing himself at one of the world's biggest clubs, that Ozil is one of Europe's best creative players.
3. Xavi, Barcelona
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Xavi has been the main protagonist of this current Barcelona generation that has taken football to a new level in Europe over the past five seasons.
Without the physical talents of many, Xavi's deft touch and sensational vision make him the cornerstone of this great Blaugrana side.
Xavi was the second best passer in Europe in January, in terms of pass completion, with 93.3%. That is astounding when you consider that a large quantity of these passes are often high risk.
2. Andrea Pirlo, Juventus
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Andrea Pirlo has proven himself again this season, inspiring Juventus to a scudetto charge, departing Milan after 10 seasons with the Rossoneri.
Pirlo is an amazing creator due to his ability to execute both short and long passes under pressure from any part of the pitch. The Bianconeri's attacks are all run through the Azzurri international and the 32-year-old still has a canny ability to see a pass that nobody else can.
1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona
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Lionel Messi is not only the greatest goalscorer in Europe, but is also the continent's best creator for my mind.
The 24-year-old has scored 65 goals this season out of Barcelona's total, 177, but the Argentine has also chipped in with 28 assists. This means that Messi creates 25% of the Blaugrana's goals that he does not score himself.
Messi can lay claim to being Europe's best creator due to his ability to make a range of passes, but also being able to do so at a scintillating speed that carves open Europe's best defences on a regular basis.