We at 101 have already given you a collated list of the top ten goalscoring strikers, midfielders, and defenders in Premier League history for your – hopeful – reading pleasure. With names like Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard, and John Terry invoking short strolls down memory lane for many fans across the top flight of English football, it was time for us to dip a little further into the next installment of our top ten series and look at matters on the continent; the Champions League.
And with that in mind, here are the top ten list of assist leaders across Champions League history.
Note: all information and data via uefa.com and focuses on data totals starting in the 1992-93 season when the European Cup was rebranded into the Champions League
T-9| Luis Suárez (Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid); 26
One of the greatest footballers in the history of Uruguay, Luis Suárez has done it at every level in Europe both domestically and in the Champions League. His 26-assists in the competition prove he was so much more than just goals despite being a center-forward.
T-9| Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich); 26
A player so good he had a role named for him, Thomas Müller has continued his footballing story while becoming one of the most creative players in Europe given his assist totals in the Bundesliga. That creativity has also been on display in the Champions League, where he justifiably is in the top ten.
T-9| Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG, Man United); 26
Say what you will about Zlatan, but this brilliantly skilled yet egotistical hilarity bin cannot be overlooked when it comes to just how blessed he is with a football as his feet. Many will remember the Joba Bonito campaign he was a part of, and those same ‘tekkers’ came to the fore on the pitch, which is why he is rightly showcased in the all-time list.
T-9| Cesc Fàbregas (Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea); 26
Simultaneously loved and hated in north London after leaving Arsenal, the Spanish midfield maestro is one of the unsung creative talents of his generation. Those talents found their way back to Barcelona and eventually to Chelsea. This list would not have been complete without him
8| Karim Benzema (Olympique Lyonnais, Real Madrid); 27
Now out of the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid, Karim Benzema has continuously produced one moment after the next that shows just how brilliant he is as a center-forward. But whether he was lining up alongside CR7 in the Champions League or not, the Frenchman has always been a player to bring others into the fold on the pitch.
T-6| Neymar (Barcelona, PSG); 29
While there probably will never – and should never – be a debate about whether or not Neymar is the most gifted Brazilian footballer of all time, there is no mistake how brilliantly he has flown the flag for his country since his arrival in Europe. The many Champions League nights he has dazzled at the Camp Nou and grounds across Europe stand in testimony to his influence on the pitch.
T-6| Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona); 29
One of a trio of Barcelona midfielders who defined an entire generation across Spain, Andrés Iniesta was an on-pitch general with few equals across the course of his career. Along with compatriots Xavi Hernández and Sergio Busquets, the dominant Barcelona side that left us speechless season after season owes him – and his creative genius – a great deal of gratitude.
5| Xavi Hernández (Barcelona); 30
Much like the aforementioned Iniesta, Xavi Hernández – now manager of Barcelona – can be attributed with a fair degree of influence when it comes to the Catalan giants crafting one scintillating season after another both in La Liga and in the Champions League. Fifth all-time in assists across the competition sounds just about right.
4| Ryan Giggs (Manchester United); 31
For years the scourge of many a Premier League defender, Welsh legend Ryan Giggs also knew how to take the game by the scruff of the neck and make things happen on the pitch for Manchester United during their many European campaigns. Their famous win against Bayern Munich gives him a justified Champions League win for a player who managed as many assists as he did.
3| Ángel Di María (Benfica, Real Madrid, PSG); 35
When you think of Argentina, the buck usually stops at Lionel Messi; and no one would argue the point further. But Ángel Di María has been one of the nation’s standout stars across just about the entirety of his spell in Europe since he arrived at SL Benfica before truly hitting his stride at Real Madrid. His participation in a host of Champions League wins is entirely justified given how influential he was on a football pitch.
2| Lionel Messi (Barcelona, PSG); 36
Whether he is first or second on whatever list he will be measured by, Lionel Messi is a true titan of football; regardless of what era you want to mention. As one of the undisputed greatest players of all time, Messi dazzled season after season for Barcelona in the Champions League and left us thinking that a player of such craft and wizardly was not human. I still am not convinced he is.
1| Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus); 42
Ronaldo vs Messi – the rivalry that defined a full generation of football fans if not more. Though Messi – for many – is the g.o.a.t., Cristiano Ronaldo’s track record in the Champions League cannot be understated by any measure. 42-assists to go with his goal record in the competition and an endless stream of clutch moments that saw him rise highest to the occasion speaks to why he tops this list and potentially always will.
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