Top 10 most influential Premier League players this season based on key passes per game

All data accurate as of February 7, 2020

In the Premier League, you need creativity to be able to compete.

English football has moved away from its previous reputation of being overly physical and is now becoming increasingly tactical, with the division’s top sides relying heavily upon their creative players.

A good playmaker will act as the link between defence and offense, controlling the game in the opposing third and seeking out killer passes to split defences and start attacks.

These players can often be the difference between league titles and heartbreak or survival and relegation; if a team lacks an effective creator it is usually reflected in their goal return.

The Premier League’s top bracket of creative talent includes some of the finest passers in world football who are invaluable assets to their teammates, managers and supporters.

I take a look at the ten most influential players in the division based on their average number of key passes per game (KPPG), with numbers coming from whoscored.com.

10: Willian (KPPG: 1.9)

Since joining Chelsea from Russian side Anzhi in the summer of 2013, Willian has established himself as one of the club’s most influential attacking players.

The Brazilian has rediscovered his form after being subject to criticism from sections of the Blues’ support over the last couple of seasons, amassing eight goal contributions in 24 Premier League appearances this campaign – averaging one every three matches.

Although he has passed his peak at the age of 31, he still offers a lot to Frank Lampard’s side who will be hoping he can continue to provide opportunities as they fight for Champions League qualification.

9: Mesut Ozil (KPPG: 2.1)

Ozil has long been a divisive figure at Arsenal, but his influence on the pitch continues to show despite his reputation among the club’s supporters.

While his work ethic and defensive contributions have been panned by fans, his creative ability remains undisputed with the German averaging over two key passes per game and achieving an 87.6% pass completion rate.

It is easy to forget Ozil’s importance to the World Cup-winning Germany side of 2014 and, before his move to London, Real Madrid where he assisted 80 times in just 159 games for the Spanish giants.

The 31-year-old’s contribution this season should not be underestimated as he is still a top player and although form is temporary, class is permanent and it is clear that Ozil has no shortage of the latter.

8: Joao Moutinho (KPPG: 2.2)

The veteran Portuguese midfielder has been a key part of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad since Wolves won promotion to the Premier League two seasons ago and for good reason.

He has been a success everywhere he has played in his career and is an international centurion, having won 121 caps for his country over the years.

Although his days left in the game are numbered he still makes his team tick with consistent, effective passing, for which he has been rewarded with six league assists so far this season.

7. Lucas Digne (KPPG: 2.3)

Former Barcelona defender Digne has proven a shrewd addition to Everton’s back line since arriving at Goodison Park.

He offers a different dimension in attack, having created five goals in the Premier League this season, averaging an assist every 4.8 matches.

Since Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment at the club he has produced two assists and two clean sheets in three home matches, and his good form looks set to continue under the Italian’s stewardship as the Toffees look to challenge for a Europa League spot at the end of the season.

6. Pascal Gross (KPPG: 2.4)

Signed from German side Ingolstadt following their Bundesliga relegation in 2017, Gross has become one of Brighton and Hove Albion’s best players in his time on the south coast.

He was voted Albion’s Player of the Year at the end of their first season in the top flight having made 15 goal contributions which proved vital in the club’s survival bid.

This year he has netted twice and created three goals in 22 league appearances, and with the Seagulls just two points from the drop zone, he will be relied upon again to help keep them in the division at the business end of the season.

5: Trent Alexander-Arnold (KPPG: 2.6)

Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold is among the game’s brightest young talents.

Still only 21 years of age, he has cemented his place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting side with his crossing and fantastic range of passing being rewarded with a Champions League trophy and nine England call-ups.

He is a product of the Reds’ academy and seems set for footballing stardom if he can continue to contribute in the way that he has as Liverpool storm towards their first Premier League title in thirty years.

4: James Maddison (KPPG: 2.7)

Maddison has been hailed as a future England regular since signing for Leicester City from Norwich in a £22 million transfer before the start of last season.

In his short time with the Foxes he has made 28 goal contributions in 68 appearances which has reportedly generated interest from the likes of Manchester United.

This campaign he has assisted three times and scored another six, further solidifying his place as Leicester’s creative outlet and has been invaluable for Brendan Rodgers’ side as they look to cap off an impressive season with a top four finish.

3: Jack Grealish (KPPG: 2.7)

Like Maddison, Grealish is another promising young English attacking midfielder making life in the Premier League look very easy.

He has returned from a Championship spell with Aston Villa a much more mature and considered player than he was prior to their relegation.

The 24-year-old averages a goal contribution every 172 minutes having scored seven goals and created five in the Premier League this season.

He is no longer the ‘new kid on the block’ at Villa Park, but an important and valued member of the side, reflected in the club’s decision to appoint him as captain for this season.

2: Emiliano Buendia (KPPG: 2.8)

Norwich City’s Buendia has filled the void left by Maddison’s departure at the club, playing a massive part in getting the Norfolk club back into the Premier League after an absence of three seasons.

This year he has taken to top-flight football like a duck to water, proving himself as arguably the club’s best player with seven assists in 24 games.

Despite the club’s position at the foot of the table, Buendia has shown he can cut it in the Premier League and will likely be interesting other clubs in the division if Norwich’s likely relegation is confirmed at the end of the season.

1: Kevin de Bruyne (KPPG: 3.7)

There are no surprises at the business end of this list, with Kevin de Bruyne leading the league in average key passes per game.

The Belgian is possibly the finest attacking midfielder in world football and boasts the most assists in Europe’s top five leagues in 2019/20, having created 15 goals.

He played a vital role in Pep Guardiola’s side that won two consecutive Premier League titles in 2018 and 2019 despite being plagued with injury throughout the treble-winning campaign.

His influence on Manchester City has been colossal, having proved he is up there with the very best while helping to transform the club into a powerhouse of the Premier League.

Featured image: Brad Tutterow / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0). Licensed for reuse

Leave a Comment