The world of stats has taken over the football landscape, with chief creators now being measured by expected assists in addition to the simple eye test and assists tally.
Expected assists measure the likelihood a pass will directly lead to a goal.
Gone are the days when a number 10 teed up a striker only for them to fluff their lines, now xA will acknowledge the playmaker’s contribution regardless of the final shot.
Each pass is measured on a scale between zero and one and this model has helped to highlight the Premier League’s elite creators in the 2023/24 season so far.
The Premier League players with the most xG assisted from open play this season:
Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United (2.1)
You just knew he’d make the list.
One of the few players left in the Premier League that fits the mould of a ‘classic’ number 10, Bruno Fernandes’ creativity has been one of few positives for a poor Red Devils side this season.
The Portuguese playmaker has only one Premier League assist this campaign, for Casemiro in a 3-2 win at home to Nottingham Forest, but he has impressed with his creativity both for his club and on the international stage.
Over the break, the 29-year-old picked up a brace of assists for his country against Slovakia and scored his nation’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Bosnia.
Dejan Kulusevski – Tottenham (2.3)
Despite not registering a single assist in league play this season, the Swedish winger is putting up elite creative numbers for the league leaders.
The 23-year-old has been an ever-present for Ange Postecoglou’s men, having appeared in all eight Premier League games after his move from Juventus was made permanent in the summer.
The crowning moment in Kulusevski’s season so far was his 100th minute winner against Sheffield United, but when it comes to assisting, he needs a helping hand from his forward line.
— Mitch Fretton (@mitch_fretton) October 11, 2023
Moussa Diaby – Aston Villa (2.6)
Aston Villa smashed their transfer record by spending £51.9m on the French winger this summer, and he has rewarded Unai Emery’s side by providing goals and creativity from out wide.
The former Bayer Leverkusen speedster has quickly formed a partnership with striker Ollie Watkins, and assisted the England forward for his second goal in a 6-1 demolition of high-flying Brighton.
The fifth placed club have been one of the league’s surprise packages and Diaby’s tally of two goals and three assists has helped sustain an early top four push.
Pervis Estupinan – Brighton (2.8)
Premier League fans have claimed Brighton are playing ‘real-life’ Football Manager and having left-back Estupinan as the second best creator in the division is a stat straight out of a computer game.
Only six men have more assists than Estupinan’s three and his partnership with Karou Mitoma makes Roberto De Zerbi’s left hand-side one of the most frightening flanks in the division.
The flying full-back also scored the Seagulls’ second goal in a 4-1 win at Wolves, but had a day to forget against Aston Villa, as his side shipped six and he scored an own goal.
The first player from 🇪🇨 to captain Albion! 💫 pic.twitter.com/a6ZxHgldXJ
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) September 28, 2023
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool (4.2)
Not just an elite goalscorer, the ‘Egyptian King’ reigns supreme at the top of the creativity charts too.
A side to his game that goes under the radar, only three men can better Salah’s four Premier League assists and added with his five goals, his nine goal contributions is a league high.
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 11, 2023
The 31-year-old bagged a brace of assists in a 3-1 comeback win against Wolves and has failed to score or assist in a Premier League game just once this season, in the Reds’ 2-1 away defeat to Spurs.
Despite making a name for himself through his goalscoring exploits, Salah sits 20th in the all-time Premier League assist charts, ahead of Eric Cantona, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard.
The former Chelsea flop will surely go down as one of the league’s greatest ever players.