Europe’s top 10 dribblers, 2020-21: Neymar, Ben Arfa, Messi & more
Dribbles are one of the more seductive elements of football, but which players have made the most this season?
There’s nothing quite like watching a player take the ball past multiple defenders before unleashing an unstoppable cross or shot. With moves straight out of a Nike ad, many of the world’s finest players welcome the opportunity to showcase their ability.
Filtering out any players that have played fewer than 500 minutes so far this season, we’ve collated the top 10 players from Europe’s big five leagues to make the most successful dribbles per 90 minutes in 2020-21.
=10. Adnan Januzaj = 4.0 per 90
Unlike his old manager David Moyes, former Manchester United academy graduate Januzaj looks well at home in San Sebastian, routinely impressing for Real Sociedad.
The Belgium international has been in and out of the side at Anoeta, with 10 of his 18 appearances in La Liga this season coming off the bench, but he can certainly make things happen when he gets the ball.
=10. Hatem Ben Arfa – 4.0 per 90
One of those Premier League players ‘the streets will never forget’, Ben Arfa is evidence that class remains permanent.
The 33-year-old is turning out for Bordeaux these days, registering two goals and four assists in Ligue 1, averaging four successful dribbles per 90 minutes across his 19 appearances to date.
Still the same player we remember, then.
=10. Alberto Perea – 4.0 per 90
One of the stand-out players for newly-promoted Cadiz, formerly of Barcelona B, Alberto Perea is enjoying his first campaign as a La Liga regular.
In particular, he put in a brilliant performance in a 2-1 win over Barcelona in December, which included him robbing Lionel Messi of the ball, beating three men in his own half and setting off a dangerous counter-attack.
7. Sofiane Boufal – 4.2 per 90
Morocco international Sofiane Boufal isn’t one of the star names on this list, as fans of Southampton would testify.
But Boufal scored a goal of the season contender during his time in England and has shone at French club Angers.
Nestled nicely in mid-table, it seems the perfect setting for the winger to showcase his immense dribbling ability.
6. Jeremie Boga – 4.6 per 90
Sassuolo’s star man has established himself as quite the player since escaping Chelsea’s loan army in 2018.
Serie A’s dribble king could soon be moving to a bigger club in the coming years. Watch this space.
5. Lionel Messi – 4.6 per 90
Even at 33, there’s no stopping Lionel Messi.
With an average of 4.6 successful dribbles per game this season, alongside 23 goals in La Liga, statistics show that even an unsettled Messi is still among the very best footballers in the world.
4. Allan Saint-Maximin – 5.0 per 90
Saint-Maximin often seems like a law unto himself and his high placing here would seem to confirm this perception. Newcastle, and fans of fun in general, desperately missed him while he was out with coronavirus.
Providing creativity in a stodgy Newcastle team, the winger achieves an average of 5 successful dribbles per game and could well be destined for one of Europe’s elite clubs in the future.
3. Adama Traore – 5.4 per 90
Ever since his days in Barcelona’s La Masia academy, Adama Traore caught the eye for his elite-level dribbling skills, something that he’s certainly maintained at Molineux.
Absolutely terrifying to defenders when running at them, the Wolves winger hasn’t quite been able to kick on and add more end product as many tipped him to this season.
His only goal, the winner against Leeds, went down as an Illan Meslier own goal.
But the vaseline-covered forward is surely destined for cult hero status at the very least.
2. Neymar – 5.8 per 90
No surprises here to see him feature so highly, given Neymar’s been averaging these kind of numbers for quite some time.
Defenders might feel like they’ve got no choice but to hack at his shins, but that has never dampened the Brazilian’s enthusiasm and confidence. He might be one of the most divisive players around, but we can’t help but admire that.
1. Rayan Cherki – 6.7 per 90
Lyon’s 17-year-old starlet has only played a fraction of the minutes that the likes of Messi and Neymar have, meaning you ought to take this comparatively limited sample size with a pinch of salt, but he’s just passed the 500 minutes threshold.
Cherki has been touted to be the next big thing out of Ligue 1 and it’s not difficult to see why, given his ability with his ball at his feet.
He just loves to run at the opposition, attempting 9.1 dribbles per 90, with a 72% success rate.
17 of his 21 Ligue 1 appearances this season have been from the bench, so he’s perhaps a little aided by games getting stretched and tired legs from defenders.
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