In football, games are decided by the number of goals scored, so it is no wonder why strikers take away all the glory. The No.9s of the game might be scoring all the goals, but the player who provides the final ball should also be given enough credit.
Supplying assists is also an art in itself; not everyone can find spaces between the opposition defence over and over again. In the 28-year history of the English Premier League, there have been players that have amassed more than 100 assists in their career. However, interestingly the 20-assist barrier has only been breached once, we'll get to who that legendary player was later in our article.
Now, even the Premier League organizers recognize the importance of these playmakers and have made provisions for a new player award up for grabs since last season. The Premier League Playmaker award will be presented to the player to have provided the most assists in a Premier League season.
Without further ado, let's look at five players who recorded the most assists in a single Premier League season till date.
5. Cesc Fabregas - 18 assists (2014-15)
There are very few players in the world who would rather be the provider of a goal than the scorers themselves, we can say without a doubt that former Barcelona star Cesc Fabregas is one of them.
The Spaniard sits second on the all-time list of assist providers in the PL, being one of only four players to have reached a century of assists. Fabregas recorded a stunning 113 assists in his two stints in the English top-flight with Arsenal and Chelsea.
He just loves to set up goals and does so at crucial moments too. Did you know that he was behind Andres Iniesta's famous injury-time goal at the 2010 World Cup final that won Spain the game? No right? Because all limelight was drawn towards the Ex-Barca captain that night.
The La Masia graduate has been the top assist provider for a total of three times in his PL career, but managed an astounding tally of 18 assists in the 2014-15 season for Chelsea.
Being busy setting up goals have even brought him some glory off the field, as he now owns a Guinness World Record for being the fastest player to achieve 100 assists in the Premier League.
4. Frank Lampard - 18 (2004-05)
He is the highest-scoring Premier League midfielder of all time and the only one to have scored more than 150 goals, with his tally of 177 putting him above the likes of established strikers like Thierry Henry, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Fowler.
Lampard also remains the top scorer for England when it comes to penalties, with 9 of his spot-kicks finding the back of the net, while on international duty.
The player who started his career with London rivals West Ham United finished three campaigns with the Blues as the top assist provider of the league, in the 2004-05, 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
Just like his former teammate Fabregas, his best return came in a title-winning season, as he was provided 18 goals under Jose Mourinho in the 2004-05 season.
The only thing that blights his otherwise phenomenal career was his failure to replicate his club level success on the international stage with the Three Lions, despite being part of their so-called 'Golden Generation'.
3. Kevin de Bruyne - 18 (2016-17)
Yet another ex-Chelsea player makes it into our countdown, with Manchester City star Kevin de Bruyne also notching up 18 assists in the 2016-17 season, which, till date remains the third-highest tally ever racked up in a single Premier League season.
The Belgian midfielder is an excellent playmaker and a dream teammate for his strikers, as he sets up goals from almost nothing.
In the five seasons he's spent in England he finished as the top assist provider on two occasions, which just tells us all we need to know about his pedigree. The Belgian is the first-ever recipient of he Premier League Playmaker award, courtesy of his 16 assists in the Cityzens incredible run in the 2017-18 season.
He even holds the record for the highest number of assists in a season by a player in the German Bundesliga, having set up an incredible 21 goals for his Wolfsburg teammates in the 2014-15 campaign.
De Bruyne looked all set to smash the Premier League record in the current season with his tally of 16 assists in 29 league outings, before the coronavirus pandemic halted all footballing activity indefinitely.
2. Mesut Ozil - 19 (2015-16)
Mesut Ozil, a World Cup winner with Germany, is counted among the best creative midfielders of the game. Though he may not be topping the charts at the moment, his vision, movement forward and precise control of the ball explain why he remains one of the top paid athletes in the league.
In his career spanning across three different leagues, the German had ten or more assists on eight occasions.
His best performances in an Arsenal jersey came in the 2015-16 season, when he was the architect of 19 of his team's goals that season. Ozil came close to at least levelling the Premier League record but somehow finished the season one shy of the mark, as Arsenal finished runners up to Leicester City that year.
1. Thierry Henry - 20 (2002-03)
Thierry Henry holds the record for the most assists provided in a single Premier League season, with a record-breaking 20 assists in the 2002-03 season for Arsenal. Remarkably, the Frenchman also scored 24 league goals that season, as he produced one of the finest individuals season in top-flight history.
Henry, an Arsenal legend has provided his fair share of assists in his illustrious career and that's what makes him special when it comes to strikers.
The Frenchman has enjoyed success at almost every club he's been to and even with his nation, playing a pivotal role in Les Blues' 1998 World Cup triumph as well as their Euro 2000 campaign.
Though he will be remembered better for his 30-goal haul in 'The Invincibles' 2003-04 campaign, his most productive season at Highbury came in the season that preceded it, in which he was involved in a mind-boggling 44 goals.
Despite being one of the greatest No.9's of his generation, he had shown in his spell with the Gunners that he was more than capable of supplying goals, cementing his status as one of the greatest players in Premier League history.
He was recently crowned as the best overseas player of the PL era in a BBC poll, which is a fitting tribute to a legendary striker.
Published 12 May 2019, 22:55 IST