Who Has the Most Assists in Premier League History?

Ryan Giggs

Football will always be about goals, with – as managers frequently comment – what happens in both boxes critical when it comes to winning or losing games. Possession and neat interchanges mean nothing if there is no end product, or at the other end of the pitch the keeper makes a howler.

However, in the modern game there are so many other stats and metrics that people are interested in and that can have a big impact on how a player is perceived and, indeed, on their value in the transfer market. How they compare relative to their xG (expected goals) chances is a big one but a slightly more established stat is that of the assist.

Assists have not always been “a thing” and they are not part of the Laws of the Game. Moreover, until the 1990s, few people even really spoke of assists, certainly not using that term; though pundits, fans and the media may have talked about a player creating the goal, making it, laying it on, or some other similar phrase.

Even so, there is no universal definition of what constitutes an assist, and different leagues and governing bodies may have different guidelines. In England, an assist is generally granted to the attacking player who touches the ball prior to the goalscorer with some minor caveats. Not all goals will have an assist-maker – for example, direct free kicks, or strikes where the goalscorer won the ball from the opponent and then scored without the intervention of a teammate.

Assists have been recorded since the inception of the Premier League in 1992/93, but since 2017/18 the English Premier League (EPL) has awarded the Playmaker of the Season award to each campaign’s leading assist-maker. But who is the all-time king of the assists in the Premier League era?

Playmaker of the Season Winners

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne (Marcus Unger, Wikipedia)

Before we look at who leads the all-time PL stats, let us first consider who has been crowned the Playmaker of the Season in the relatively short history of the award.

  • 2022/23 – Kevin De Bruyne – The Man City maestro bagged 16 assists as City won the title
  • 2021/22 – Mo Salah – The Egyptian ace managed 13 assists
  • 2020/21 – Harry Kane – England’s top goalscorer was the PL assist king with 14
  • 2019/20 – Kevin De Bruyne – KDB recorded a massive 20 assists, a PL record, and was named the Player of the Season too
  • 2018/19 – Eden Hazard – Belgians clearly love providing goals and the Chelsea star managed 15
  • 2017/18 – Kevin De Bruyne – City’s creative force won the first of his three awards with 16 assists in the inaugural season of this prize, assisting (!) City’s title push

All-Time Premier League Assist Record

In recent years it is clear that City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been simply the best when it comes to creating goals for his team. His link play with Erling Haaland in particular has proved impressive and we expect the Belgian maestro to add many more assists to his total in the next couple of campaigns. However, as things stand, De Bruyne has “just” 103 to his name.

Impressively, considering he has played just 244 times (all stats correct as of 24/1/2024) in the English top flight, that puts him third on the all-time list (tied with Wayne Rooney). Right now the imperious midfielder is averaging an assist once every 2.37 games. For reference, his compatriot, Eden Hazard, played one more game in the PL but managed just 54 assists, or one every 4.54 matches, whilst Rooney needed 491 games to get his 103 assists!

De Bruyne Hungry for Cesc

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne (Ardfern, Wikipedia)

Second on the list of Premier League assist providers is former Spain star Cesc Fabregas. He managed 111 in his career and it is highly likely that De Bruyne will overtake him either this season or next. Fabregas was a wonderfully neat, creative player, who made 350 appearances in England’s top flight. He bagged 50 goals to go along with his assists and won two Premier League titles. Both of those came with Chelsea, although he is perhaps more associated with Arsenal, whom he represented on more occasions.

Fabregas was a real class act but he “only” managed an assist every 3.15 matches, well behind the City man. It is also worth noting that even now, having played 106 games fewer than Fabregas, that De Bruyne has scored 15 more goals. Football is a team game and City have arguably been the best team in the world for most of De Bruyne’s time at the club but even so, his stats really are impressive.

Ryan Giggs Has the Most PL Assists

Ryan Giggs holding a trophy
Ryan Giggs (James Adams, Wikipedia)

De Bruyne will take some beating in terms of his efficiency and assists-to-games ratio but he still has some work to do to overtake Ryan Giggs as the top assist provider in Premier League history. The Welsh wizard may or may not be a nice chap off the pitch but on it, he was some player and the former Man United man clocked a massive 162 EPL assists.

He also netted 109 top-flight goals and, along with only Wayne Rooney, has triple figures in terms of both goals and assists. Man City’s star still needs 35 goals to join that elite club and 60 assists to overtake Giggs. For all that we have raved about the Belgian’s productivity, there is every chance he will be unable to reach those milestones.

Giggs, of course, was an early starter, making his Man United debut at the age of 17. He enjoyed great longevity in his career too, playing at the highest level until he was 40 before retiring in 2014. He played 632 Premier League games for Man United which is a tally that De Bruyne will, categorically, not get near.

We should also remember that Giggs played for the Red Devils in the pre-Premier League era too, so on top of all those appearances, goals and assists are more made in the old First Division (he played 40 times across 1990/91 and 1991/92, netting five goals). Giggs truly was a phenomenal player and if De Bruyne is unable to surpass his PL assist tally, the Welshman looks set to hold that record for many years.