Who Is The English Premier League's Most Creative Player?
Every team needs that one player. That one guy who can break the lines, find that killer ball or deliver that inch-perfect cross into the striker's path.
There are many factors to determine how 'creative' a player is. Is it how many assists they have? How many key passes they have? Or how many nutmegs they have… probably not.
Let's examine the following stats, many of which break away from more traditional metrics, to ultimately determine the EPL's most creative player.
This stat measures how many actions a player performs, which intern registers a shot. These include passes, shots, dead-balls, dribbles, fouls-drawn as well as defensive actions. This stats demonstrates a player's influence upon his team's ability to create a shot, as well as shot-making opportunities.
1st - Jack Grealish (125)
2nd - Bruno Fernandes (103)
3rd - Kevin De Bryune (101)
4th - Mason Mount (82)
5th - Mateusz Klich (78)
Unsurprisingly, we see Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bryune in the upper echelon of attacking players in the league. However, the same can be said about Mason Mount, who, since moving deeper in a new role, has been a genuine driving force within a struggling Chelsea side. While Mateusz Klich of Leeds United appearing on this list might come as a bit of a shock, that fact is the Marcelo Bielsa side has a knack of creating a high volume of opportunities per match, with the Pole more often than not leading the way.
Rather than using raw assists as a measure for creativity, a fairer metric to use is 'expected assists'. This is because it's the chance that is created which determines creativity, not whether the forward actually can score it. Expected assists considers several factors including the type of pass, pass end-point and length of the pass. By adding up a player, or a team's expected assists, we arrive at a better indication of how many assists a player or team 'should' have had based on their build-up and attacking play.
1st - Bruno Fernandes (7.4)
2nd - Jack Grealish (7.4)
3rd - Kevin De Bryune (6.8)
4th - Harry Kane (4.7)
5th - Son Heung-Min (4.2)
A theme is emerging. The very best are rising to the top, and there's night and day between them and the rest. The dynamic Spurs duo round out the top-5 as Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min show how telepathic their link really is, as well as just how reliant Jose Mourinho is on them. It also seems it's going to be hard to knock the likes of Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bryune off their perch in our ultimate hunt for the EPL's mot creative player.
Carries into the final third
Leaving passing aside, another measure of creativity is how successful a player is at driving the ball forward, putting pressure on the opposition defence via dribbling rather than passing. Carries into the final-third show how a player can generate attack from a deep area on the pitch, thus being able to break through the midfield, setting up positions where their attackers are isolated with their respective defender.
1st - Jack Grealish (78)
2nd - Pedro Neto (64)
3rd - Harvey Barnes (60)
4th - Marcus Rashford (54)
5th - Kevin De Bryune (52)
A notable omission as well as some surprising entries here. Bruno Fernandes absence from this list stands out, and while nobody would suggest the brilliant Portuguese player lacks creativity, he certainly expresses himself in different ways. Wolverhampton, and fellow Portuguese star Pedro Neto makes his first appearance in our hunt, thriving even without Jose Jiminez to boost his assist tally. Leicester's Harvey Barnes and United's Marcus Rashford also make their first appearances, with the two young stars showing how their quick feet can worry defences and generate devastating attacks.
Carries into the 18-yard box
Going one step further than the final third, carries into the 18-yard box show the ability to create strong good scoring opportunities in contested, tight areas. Quick feet are required, as too is having a splendid eye for goal or a key pass.
1st - Jack Grealish (66)
2nd - Marcus Rashford (38)
3rd - Raheem Sterling (33)
4th - Timo Werner (33)
5th - Pedro Neto (31)
A very similar list as we saw for carries into the final third, with Jack Grealish leading the way again. Surprisingly, Pedro Neto and Marcus Rashford maintain consistency and perhaps, even more surprisingly, Chelsea's Timo Werner making his presence felt, despite the Blues' struggles. Raheem Sterling standing out among the star-studded Manchester City outfit highlights just how spectacular the England international is.
Key Passes that lead to shots
Key passes directly leading to shots is arguably the best metric to measure creativity. Key passes show the vision and the ability these players have to find a pass from anywhere on the pitch, and turn it into a real goal-scoring threat. This metric isn't exclusive to just attackers, as full-backs and midfielders can become creative threats should they be given the time and space to flourish.
1st - Jack Grealish (68)
2nd - Bruno Fernandes (59)
3rd - Kevin De Bryune (54)
4th - Mason Mount (53)
5th - Pedro Neto (39)
They're back again! Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bryune are back in the elite of this key footballing statistic. Mason Mount returning illustrates that his best asset is finding that pass from deeper on the pitch. Pedro Neto, the more shocking appearance on this list as many fans wouldn't have thought of him as this effective of a creative outlet.
So just who is the EPL's most creative player?
Unfortunately for football fans and pundits, there's no one metric that measures 'creativity', but through using these stats we can at least see that there are very few players who could be considered an all-round creative player. For example, Bruno Fernandes has elite passing statistics, yet lacks in the dribbling side of things. The vice versa can be said about Marcus Rashford.
However there is one stand out amongst them all with Aston Villa's Jack Grealish having the season of his life, with the stats indeed reflecting that. Appearing consistently in the top-5 of a deep range of creative statistics, it's no wonder the Claret and Blue army is vying for European places this season. Not only is Grealish leading these above stats, but putting considerable distance between him and second place in many situations is indicative of the jaw-dropping expansion of his game this season. Let's see if he and his club can keep it up.
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