The Premier League is the richest football league in the world, and arguably the most competitive one too.
Over the years, many top players, including defenders, have graced the competition. In line with the constant evolution of the game, defenders are no longer required to be solid at the back and punt the ball upfield. They are also key components in teams' attacks nowadays, something that's also true in the Premier League.
Full-backs are required to provide width and create an offensive overload in the attacking third. When possession is lost, they are expected to track back and help their team defensively. Centre-backs, meanwhile, are also required to be proficient at both ends and help build up attacks from the back.
These players rack up a lot of assists, and also score occasionally. On that note, here's a look at the five defenders with the most assists in Premier League history:
#5 Ian Harte - 36
Ian Harte made his name as an attacking defender during his 11 seasons in the English top flight.
The 44-year-old made nearly 250 appearances in the competitions for three different clubs, with more than 200 of them coming with Leeds United. Harte scored all of his 28 goals, mostly free-kicks and penalties, in the competition with Leeds.
He is one of only four players to score at least ten penalties and as many direct free-kicks in the English top flight.
He tallied a personal-best seven goals in the 2000-01 season. Thanks to Harte's exploits, the Peacocks finished a creditable third that campaign behind winners Manchester United and second-placed Arsenal.
Note: Andy Hinchcliffe also has 36 assists in the English top flight.
#4 Trent-Alexander Arnold (2020 Premier League winner) - 43
Trent-Alexander Arnold is one of the best young full-backs in the game at the moment.
Still only 23, he has made nearly 150 appearances in the competition, all for Liverpool, contributing an impressive ten goals and 43 assists. Interestingly, seven of his strikes in the competition have come from outside the box.
Together with Andy Robertson (more on him later), Alexander-Arnold is part of one of the most explosive full-back duos in the game's history.
The Englishman contributed four goals and 13 assists in the Reds' triumphant league-winning campaign of 2019-20. Quite impressively, Alexander-Arnold is already up to ten assists for the season.
#3 Graeme Le Saux (1995 Premier League winner) - 44
Graeme Le Saux is one of the best attacking defenders in the history of the Premier League.
In over 300 games in the competition for three different clubs, the 53-year-old made over 300 appearances, bagging 12 goals and 44 assists. He won his lone English top-flight title in 1994-95 with Blackburn Rovers, contributing three goals in that campaign.
The former left-back played his last game in the competition for Southampton in 2004-05.
#2 Andy Robertson (2020 Premier League winner) - 45
Andy Robertson is one of the finest full-backs in the game at the moment. The 27-year-old Scot has racked up over 200 appearances in the English top flight, bagging an impressive 50 goal contributions (six goals, 45 assists).
Together with his right-back colleague Trent Alexander-Arnold, Robertson forms one of the deadliest full-back duos in the game's history. Unsurprisingly, the two are key players at both ends of the field for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.
The 27-year-old contributed two goals and 12 assists in Liverpool's triumphant 2019-20 league campaign - their first league win in 30 years. This season, Robertson has already notched up one goal and six assists.
#1 Leighton Baines - 53
Leighton Baines is one of the legendary full-backs to have graced the English top flight.
During an illustrious career spanning nearly two decades, the 37-year-old made over 400 appearances in the competition. He made nearly 100 goal contributions (32 goals, 53 assists) during this period, with most of them coming for Everton.
The former left-back is the only defender in the Premier League era to have registered over 50 assists in the competition. However, he is likely to be overtaken by the Liverpool duo of Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
Baines retired from the game at the end of the 2019-20 season, but remains involved with Everton.