The 21st century has witnessed some of the greatest players to have ever graced football. Many players who have appeared in this era have gone on to challenge the legacies of those who conquered the football world in previous generations.
No two names are more significant examples of this than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentine and the Portuguese have cotinued to go toe-to-toe over the last decade and a half and redefined the expectations from modern footballers. The pair won a staggering 11 Ballons d'Or between them.
Apart from the two prominent names such as these, there have been several others who have carved out immortal legacies for themselves. They have managed to do so in many ways — be it with their goals, assists, clean sheets, or with a catalogue of iconic and unforgettable moments.
Here, we take a look at active players from Europe's top five leagues with the most number of assists to their name.
#5 David Silva | Real Sociedad | 122
La Real's latest addition arrived at the club under strange circumstances this summer. David Silva was all set to join Lazio on a free transfer after his contract expired with Manchester City, but ultimately signed for Real Sociedad after they offered him a deal in the eleventh hour. Regardless of the controversy, the fact is that the Spaniards have made an excellent acquisition on a free.
Silva has been a colossal player not just for City's accolades, but also for their status among Europe's best clubs in the last decade. The 34-year-old was cataclytic for City, helping them grow into one of the biggest forces in England, constantly pulling strings and making the difference for his side. The four-time Premier League champion is widely regarded as one of the league's most excellent imports.
Silva racked up 60 goals along with 93 assists in his 309 league games for Manchester City, etching his name into the history books of both his club and the league. He has the fifth-most number of assists among active players, with 122 to his name. In honour of his contributions to the club's illustrious decade, City have announced a David Silva statue to be unveiled outside the Etihad campus. Undoubtedly a modern great of the game.
#4 Mesut Ozil | Arsenal | 132
Although the sight of him being completely frozen out of the squad for over a year may not paint a pretty picture, Mesut Ozil was nearly unparalleled in his heyday. The German is one of the most unique players football has witnessed in the last couple of decades.
The Arsenal man was never the most physically dominant player, and in fact, he has drawn heavy criticism for a perceived lack of work ethic on the pitch. However, when on form, Ozil is a true creative genius in his own right. Apart from his contributions to the clubs he played for, including Real Madrid and Arsenal, the 31-year-old was a crucial figure in Germany's historic FIFA World Cup win in 2014.
Ozil has registered over 25 assists in Premier League, LaLiga Santander, Bundesliga, and the UEFA Champions League in what has been a stellar career. This status remains despite his current lack of football in North London. Ozil was always spoken highly of by other managers, and was particularly admired by Jose Mourinho. Speaking on the five-time German Player of the Year in 2013, the Portuguese expressed;
"[Mesut] Ozil is unique. There is no copy of him, not even a bad copy. He is the best No.10 in the world. He makes things very easy for me and for his team-mates with his football vision and the decisions he makes."
Ozil is the active player with the fourth highest number of assists in Europe, having set up 132 goals.