Stats Leaders: Ranking Europe's Top 5 Players for Assists This Season

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 8, 2013

Stats Leaders: Ranking Europe's Top 5 Players for Assists This Season

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    Which players, across Europe's top five leagues, are ruling the assist column this season?

    In a game that is becoming increasingly statistic-based, managers, pundits and fans alike regularly check on performance data to measure their star performers. Who's been a creative force so far this season?

    Read on to find out who joins Cesc Fabregas in Europe's elite echelons.

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    There are a whopping seven players with seven assists already this season, coming from different areas of the pitch in different leagues across Europe.

    Leighton Baines is a much-lauded, creative left-back, but it's Eintracht Frankfurt's Bastian Oczipka who leads the way in this position.

    The Bundesliga trend continues with Bayern Munich duo Franck Ribery, who is enjoying arguably his best season ever in a Roten shirt, and Thomas Muller, Jupp Heynckes' go-to guy. Szabolcs Huszti of Hannover 96 has managed seven assists, too, but that's mostly because he hits long passes for fun.

    Marek Hamsik is enjoying his role in Walter Mazzarri's 3-5-1-1 formation at Napoli, while Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata represent the English Premier League at this stage.

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    We have two players that have recorded eight assists so far this season, the first of which is Steven Gerrard.

    While he has certainly lost a step physically, he's still the creative force at Anfield.

    Roy Hodgson has adapted Gerrard's role for England by using him in the regista position, and it suits him perfectly; for all the mobility he's lost, his long-passing game is as accurate as ever.

    In a private conversation with B/R's Karl Matchett, the Liverpool columnist spoke of how Gerrard's fulfilled this role on and off for years for the Reds, but he has recently settled into it more permanently behind the marauding Jordan Henderson and ahead of Lucas Leiva.

    The pass he conjured for Luis Suarez's second goal against Sunderland this month was simply jaw-dropping.

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    Borja Valero—the forgotten man?

    He went to West Bromwich Albion with such promise but never truly adapted to the rigours of the English Premier League. He then somehow got relegated with Villarreal, but he has finally found a home in Florence.

    He's playing a surprising position at the Artemio Franchi. David Pizarro is the one getting time at forward despite him being a prototypical holding midfielder, and Valero is enjoying a more balanced role.

    That hasn't stemmed the creativity, though, and after recording eight assists already, he's asserted himself as the chief playmaker in Vincenzo Montella's midfield.

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    Before Cesc Fabregas was injured, he was leading Europe in the assist column.

    He was absolutely flying in a free, creative role under Tito Vilanova until he tore the biceps femoris in his left thigh (sounds nasty).

    The former Arsenal midfielder never really settled under Pep Guardiola and was never able to call one position on the field his own, but Pep's replacement saw to it that Fabregas was a key component in his side.

    Having been out of action for a month, a teammate of his has usurped him, but Cesc has rejoined training and will be looking to add to his tally.

On a Whopping 11

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    And of course, that teammate is Andres Iniesta.

    The midfield maestro's impact on games has never been in doubt, but his assist tally sometimes lacks—especially for Spain—due to his deployment on the left wing.

    With Cesc Fabregas out, Don Andres moved inside a little more frequently to partner his old chum, Xavi, to great effect. Eleven assists in half a season speaks for itself.