Step aside, attacking midfielders and flying wingers, and make room for the defenders who can’t help but set up goals.
With the way modern full-backs operate, there’s no surprise that there are several defenders across Europe’s top five leagues edging towards double figures for assists in their domestic campaigns this season.
What will come as a surprise though are a couple of the names included in this top five list for defenders with the most league assists in the 2017/18 campaign.
JOSHUA KIMMICH | BAYERN MUNICH
Minutes Played: 1883
Most Assisted: Robert Lewandowski (5)
Filling the boots of the legendary Philipp Lahm was always going to be a gargantuan task but Joshua Kimmich has gone about attempting to do so with aplomb.
Along with continuity in that right-back role, he’s also brought loads of assists, leading the way among defenders in Europe with nine in the league this season – five of which set up Robert Lewandowski.
JORDI ALBA | BARCELONA
Minutes Played: 2189
Most Assisted: Lionel Messi (5)
The pacey Spanish full-back has a reputation for being more of an auxiliary winger than a defender.
Never resisting the opportunity to venture forward, Alba has done so even more often this season with players like Andres Iniesta and Philippe Coutinho occupying the left flank and drifting inside, allowing him to bomb down the outside and pick out forwards – usually Lionel Messi – with his cut-backs.
ALEKSANDAR KOLAROV | ROMA
Minutes Played: 2399
Most Assisted: Eden Dzeko (3)
The former Manchester City player’s hammer of a left foot has held him in good stead during his spell at Roma.
Apart from powering in efforts from range, he’s also capable of picking out a team-mate and that has only added to his repertoire despite the fact that he isn’t as quick any more at the age of 32.
CHRIS BRUNT | WEST BROM
Minutes Played: 1293
Most Assisted: Ahmed Hegazy, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon (2 each)
Definitely the shock inclusion on this list. Why? Well, he’s hardly first choice – for a team doomed for relegation at that – and all but one of his assists have come in defeats.
A portion of his assists have come when he’s played in midfield, but considering he usually provides from set-pieces, that doesn’t really make a difference.
AARON CRESSWELL | WEST HAM
Minutes Played: 1293
Most Assisted: N/A (six separate scorers)
The Englishman’s crossing is among the best in the Premier League and when the Hammers signed him in 2014, many expected him to strike up a partnership with chief aerial threat Andy Carroll.
Despite, the striker failing to enjoy any sort of fitness or consistency, Cresswell has kept whipping in delicious crosses, served up for any takers waiting inside the box.
“I know you are tired. I know you are psychologically and emotionally exhausted. But you have to smile and continue,” Sanchez posted in Spanish on Instagram below a photo that showed him with a huge grin as he trained with Chile in Stockholm ahead of friendly with Sweden on Saturday.
Sanchez told reporters earlier in the week he had initially asked to skip friendlies with Sweden and Denmark on Tuesday before reversing his decision.
The 29-year-old joined United from Arsenal in January on a reported salary of £500,000 ($695,000) a week to become the top paid player in Premier League history.
He became one of the fall guys as United were dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla last 16 last week and was dropped by United manager Jose Mourinho for an FA Cup quarter-final win over Brighton four days later.
Sanchez has scored just once in his first 10 games for United.
“It was a bit rough for me because it’s the first time I’ve changed a team in January,” said Sanchez, who added he had “expected something better” from himself during his first months under Mourinho.
Chile have not qualified for the World Cup in Russia, so Sanchez should get a prolonged summer break for the first time in five years.
Sanchez was a key member of the Chile team that won the Copa America back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, as well as the side that reached the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup and the 2017 Confederations Cup final.
Provided by AFP Sport
The eight-time Olympic gold medallist ended a record-breaking athletics career last year and has this week signalled his intention to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer by linking up with the Bundesliga side.
There were few trademark sprints from the 100m and 200m world record holder but he showed his aerial prowess by heading home from Germany midfielder Mario Gotze’s ball over the top in a half-pitch game involving several first-team players, not on international duty, and youth players.
Whether his contribution was enough to see him earn a full-time deal remains to be seen, but the Jamaican admitted he had enjoyed himself in the training session broadcast on Dortmund’s YouTube channel.
“It was good! I had fun with the guys, they were very welcoming,” Bolt said in a quote on Dortmund’s official Twitter account.
A bumper crowd of 1,409 turned up at BVB’s training centre located in Dortmund-Brackel while there was unsurprisingly an increased media presence to see the 31-year-old put through his paces.
Bolt emerged at the forefront of the pack, wearing UB09 on his Dortmund tracksuit, to a fine reception and there appeared plenty of bonhomie as he interacted with the team before the warm-ups on a grey day in western Germany.
His first touch was noticeably errant during the practice match – although he made up for this on one occasion by nutmegging Italy Under-19 right-back Dario Scuderi to the delight of those watching.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) March 23, 2018
Playing alongside the likes of Christian Pulisic and Gotze, Bolt was largely in a forward role and capped his game with a terrific header into the corner of the net to a chorus of cheers.
However, he did fluff one more chance, chipping well wide when clean through.
Bolt, who once hit a six off Chris Gayle before bowling the then West Indies captain in a charity cricket match in October 2009, was on his haunches at the end of the half-hour game and visibly fatigued.
The self-confessed Manchester United fan recovered to confidently dispatch a left-foot penalty into the top right corner of the net as the training session was brought to a close.
He finished by shaking hands and taking photos with several of the team before signing autographs for some of those in attendance.
Provided by Press Association Sport