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Beckham, Cantona, Ozil & the previous Premier League assist leaders

9:47 PM IST 14/05/18
Eric Cantona Mesut Ozil David Beckham Assists Split
Kevin De Bruyne has claimed the first official award for most assists in a season, but who were the players who previously set the standard?

The Premier League Playmaker award is a new individual accolade given out to the player who has provided the most assists through the season.

It joins the Golden Boot and Golden Glove as honours for individual recognition, with the inaugural award going to Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne .

But, if the award had been in existence for the entirety of the Premier League era, who would have been the winners? Here, Goal takes a look.

  • Eric Cantona

    1992-93 | Eric Cantona (16 assists)

    Eric Cantona would have won the playmaker award in the inaugural Premier League season. The United number seven assisted 16 times, as well as scoring 20 in in 42 appearances for both Leeds and the Red Devils.

    United won the league that season for the first time in 26 years and the addition of Cantona in November was seen as the driving force towards that first title win. 

  • Andy Cole Newcastle United

    1993-94 | Andy Cole (13 assists)

    A player not many people associate with assists because he was such a prolific goalscorer. In Andy Cole’s first Premier League season he set a record for the number of goals scored in a season with 34, and he would have been the first double winner of the Golden Boot and the Playmaker prize if the award had existed at the time.

    Cole’s assists were not elegant through balls or crosses that you would see from many conventional playmakers but his hold-up play and lay-offs contributed to an assists tally which stood at 13 by the end of the season.

  • Matthew Le Tissier Southampton 1994-95

    1994-95 | Matt Le Tissier (15 assists)

    Known as ‘Le God’ to Southampton fans, Le Tissier assisted 15 times in the 1994-95 season.

    Le Tissier also took on the brunt of goal scoring responsibilities at The Dell during that season, netting 19 times in 41 outings.

    Le Tissier contributed to 34 goals that season as Southampton finished comfortably in mid-table.

  • Steve McManaman Liverpool

    1996-96 | Steve McManaman (15 assists)

    Steve McManaman assisted 15 times in the 1995-96 season as Liverpool finished third.

    McManaman enjoyed a productive season being able to supply Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore, who both hit double figures for the season.

    McManaman’s form also earned him a place in England’s Euro 96 squad and he received praise from Pele, who called him ‘one of the best players in Europe’.

  • Eric Cantona

    1996-97 | Eric Cantona (12 assists)

    Eric Cantona would have been the first two-time winner of the Playmaker award and was seemingly at the top of his game, providing 12 assists and scoring 11 goals during the 96-97 season

    Cantona was made captain for the season and lifted the Premier League title for the Red Devils. At the end of the season, Cantona shocked the world of football by retiring from the game aged just 31.

  • Beckham

    1997-98 | David Beckham (13 assists)

    One of the finest passers the Premier League has ever seen, Beckham was brilliant on the right wing, providing crosses for the likes of Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham.

    Beckham’s set-piece prowess also helped him on his way to 13 assists, with inch-perfect corners and free-kicks helping him to boost his numbers.

    Manchester United could only manage a second-place finish that season, though, as Arsenal pipped them to the title.

  • Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal

    1998-99 | Dennis Bergkamp & Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (13 assists)

    Two Dutch forwards but two very different players as Bergkamp and Hasselbaink assisted 13 times in the 1998-99 season.

    Bergkamp largely operated behind Nicolas Anelka at Arsenal that season, with the French striker scoring 17 goals. Bergkamp also found the back of the net 12 times.

    Hasselbaink was much more of a finisher than a creator in his career, however, in this season he finished on 13 assists as Chelsea finished third under Gianluca Vialli.

  • Nolberto Solano Newcastle United Premier League

    1999-2000 | David Beckham & Nolberto Solano (15 assists)

    David Beckham finished top of the assists charts for the second time, however, he had to share it with Newcastle’s Nolberto Solano.

    Beckham was at his influential best for Man Utd, while Peruvian winger Solano established himself as a cult hero at St James’ Park, providing a fruitful supply for Alan Shearer.

  • David Beckham Manchester United

    2000-01 | David Beckham (12 assists)

    Beckham claimed his third playmaker award in 2001 as United won another Premier League title. Beckham assisted 12 times that season as the goals were spread throughout the United side with Teddy Sheringham finishing as the club’s top scorer on 15.

    Solano was again Beckham’s chief rival and was the only other player to reach double figures for assists that season.

  • Robert Pires Arsenal 09042005

    2001-02 | Robert Pires (15 assists)

    The second French player to win the playmaker award would have been Robert Pires.

    Arsenal won the league by seven points that season as Pires assisted 15 times. The emergence of Thierry Henry as the league’s top scorer helped Pires notch up this tally.

    Goals flowed through the Arsenal team in 2001-02 as Dennis Bergkamp was in second place for the playmaker award that season.

  • Thierry Henry Arsenal

    2002-03 | Thierry Henry (20 assists)

    Thierry Henry became the first player to provide 20 assists in a Premier League season in 2002-03 and it is a record which still stands.

    Unfortunately, Henry couldn’t double up the Playmaker award with the Golden Boot, finishing just one goal behind top scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy that season.

    Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord were among the players finishing the chances that Henry created, with 14 and 10 goals in the league respectively.

  • Muzzy İzzet

    2003-04 | Muzzy Izzet (14 assists)

    The 2003-04 season finished with Arsenal unbeaten and with a team containing the previous two seasons’ top assist makers.

    But, in Arsenal’s Invincible campaign, it was Leicester City’s Muzzy Izzet who would have walked away with the Playmaker award after assisting 14 goals, with Paolo Di Canio and Brett Emerton in second and third.

    Izzet played in a Leicester team which had goals spread throughout, with Les Ferdinand, Paul Dickov and Marcus Bent scoring 12, 11 and nine goals respectively.

  • HD Frank Lampard Chelsea

    2004-05 | Frank Lampard (18 assists)

    It’s no surprise to see a Chelsea player top the assist charts this season as they were dominant in Jose Mourinho’s first year as manager.

    Chelsea won 29 games and lost only once as Frank Lampard assisted 18 goals for the likes of Didier Drogba, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole.

    Lampard also topped Chelsea’s scoring charts that season, hitting 13 goals in the Premier League.

  • Didier Drogba | Chelsea - Stoke

    2005-06 | Didier Drogba (11 assists)

    Another striker more known for his goals, Drogba set up 11 goals in this season to claim the playmaker award.

    The Chelsea forward also weighed in with 12 goals, while Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes was the only other player to reach double figures for assists.
  • Wayne Rooney Manchester United Wigan 2009 - 100th Man Utd goal

    2006-07 | Cesc Fabregas & Wayne Rooney (11 assists)

    Two young players would have shared the award in the 2006-07 season as a 21-year-old Wayne Rooney and a 20-year-old Cesc Fabregas both got 11 assists.

    Both players would go on to become Premier League legends but for them to see off the rest of the league at such a young age was a huge achievement for the pair.

    However, both men were beaten to the PFA Young Player of the Year award by Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit 17 goals that season and supplied eight assists.

  • Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal

    2007-08 | Cesc Fabregas (17 assists)

    The Spain midfielder won the award outright in the 2007/08 season with 17 assists.

    Fabregas was in fantastic form for Arsenal this season, helping them finish fourth and carrying Emmanuel Adebayor to a 24-goal season.

    Behind Fabregas in the list that season were a trio of England players – Ashley Young, Rooney and Gareth Barry – who all reached double figures.

  • Robin van Persie, Arsenal

    2008-09 | Frank Lampard & Robin van Persie (10 assists)

    The lowest assist tally to win this award saw Lampard and Van Persie become the only players to manage to get 10 assists in the 2008-09 season.

    Quite a low scoring Premier League season saw Liverpool finish as the highest-scoring team on 77 goals when no other club even reached the 70 mark.

    Lampard’s Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka picked up the Golden Boot with 19 goals, with the England midfielder scoring 12. Van Persie also reached double figures for goals in netting 11 times for Arsenal.

  • Frank Lampard | Chelsea

    2009-10 | Frank Lampard (14 assists)

    In contrast to the season before, the 2009/10 campaign was packed full of goals with Chelsea scoring a record 103, so it is no surprise that their most creative player topped the list this year.

    Didier Drogba put away 29 goals that season to help Lampard reach 14 assists for the campaign. Lampard himself scored 22 times that season, however, he was beaten to the PFA Player of the Year award by Wayne Rooney.

  • Luis Nani Manchester United

    2010-11 | Nani (14 assists)

    The first Portuguese winner of the award, Nani took up Cristiano Ronaldo’s mantle at Manchester United and performed exceptionally in the 2010/11 season in providing 14 assists.

    Nani was in a title-winning United team which had two top-class strikers in Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney combining for 31 goals between them during this campaign.

  • David Silva

    2011-12 | David Silva (15 assists)

    Manchester City won the title in dramatic style in the 2011-12 season and, along the way, they played some of the best football in the Premier League.

    The 6-1 demolition of local rivals United was arguably Silva’s best game of that season and his assist to Edin Dzeko for the sixth goal was sublime.

  • Juan Mata Chelsea

    2012-13 | Juan Mata (12 assists)

    Juan Mata was Chelsea’s Player of the season in 2012/13 in assisting 12 goals, having provided 13 assists the year before in finishing second behind David Silva.

    The Spaniard’s quality from set-pieces helped him to top the assist charts ahead of Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard and compatriot Santi Cazorla.

  • Steven Gerrard

    2013-14 | Steven Gerrard (13 assists)

    This is surprisingly the only time Gerrard would have won this award. The Liverpool legend had been one of the Premier League’s best midfielders for over a decade at this point but it took until the latter stages of his career for him to top the assist charts.

    He was supplying a red-hot strike duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in finishing with 13 assists. Suarez, meanwhile, was second in the charts with 12 assists.

  • Cesc Fabregas Chelsea West Ham

    2014-15 | Cesc Fabregas (18 assists)

    Cesc Fabregas marked his return to the Premier League with 18 assists and a league title. Fabregas had been gone from the league for three years after a move to Barcelona but Chelsea paid £30 million to bring the Spaniard back to England.

    On his Chelsea debut he showed he was back to his best with an inch-perfect pass to Andre Schurrle setting him up to score against Burnley. Cazorla, meanwhile, finished runner-up for the second year in a row.

  • Mesut Ozil Arsenal

    2015-16 | Mesut Ozil (19 assists)

    In 2015-16, the Premier League boasted a batch of the best creative midfielders in the world as the likes of Fabregas, Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne and Silva were setting up goals every week and it was a joy to watch

    The winner of the playmaker award that year, however, would have been Mesut Ozil. Arguably the best creative midfielder of the lot, Ozil fell just one short of Thierry Henry’s assist record that season after supplying 19 assists.

  • Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City

    2016-17 | Kevin De Bruyne (18 assists)

    Kevin De Bruyne would have won the playmaker award last year after creating 18 goals, finishing three ahead of nearest rival Christian Eriksen.

    The likes of Fabregas and Ozil figured in the top 10, but De Bruyne proved himself to be the stand-out goal creator in Pep Guardiola’s first season as City manager.

  • Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City

    2017-18 | Kevin De Bruyne (16 assists)

    The first official Playmaker award went down to the final minute of the final game of the season as De Bruyne edged out City team-mate Leroy Sane.

    A hat-trick of assists from Sane in the penultimate game of the season saw the Germany international join De Bruyne on 15 assists for the campaign. But, in the fourth minute of stoppage time at Southampton on the final day, De Bruyne teed up Gabriel Jesus to score for the Belgian's 16th assist of the campaign.

    City dominated the assist charts with Silva and Raheem Sterling ensuring the champions occupied the top four places.