Who Are The Top 5 Attacking Midfielders In the Premier League?
This is our third piece in a series looking at the English Premier League's top 5 players at each position.
5) Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Eden Hazard did not have his best season last year, but even so, he was still a very good player.
Hazard demonstrated strong passing and dribbling abilities as he finished 6th in the league in successful dribbles per game (2.9) and 10th in key passes per contest (2.1). Hazard completed 86% of his passes a year ago, so he is very good at both creating scoring chances and keeping possession.
The bad news for Hazard was that he only scored 4 goals with 3 assists in Premier League matches, which is far less production than he usually provides.
Prior to last season, Hazard was named to the PFA Team of the Year three seasons in a row with Chelsea. He scored 37 league goals with 27 assists over those three seasons, also leading the league in dribbles per game in both the 2013-14 season and in the 2014-15 campaign.
Hazard is an elite player who had a down year last year, but he is still just 25 years old, so there is every reason to believe the best days are ahead.
4) Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Manchester United
Henrikh Mkhitaryan transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United this summer, and he should immediately become one of the best attacking midfielders in the EPL.
Mkhitaryan dominated the Bundesliga last season, scoring 11 goals with 15 assists, the latter of which were the most in the league. He also recorded 2.7 key passes per game (4th in the league) and 2.6 dribbles per game (8th in the league).
He figures to start this season as a No. 10 or an attacking midfielder on the right side of the field surrounding by talented players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Anthony Martial. Mkhitaryan will have the opportunity to create scoring chances for this talented trio, so it won't be a surprise to see him at or near the top of the league lead in assists at the end of the season.
3) Dimitri Payet, West Ham
Dimitri Payet of West Ham ranks this high for his abilities as an all-around playmaker.
Payet tied for third in the league in assists last season with 12, and he was second in the league in key passes per game with 4.0, only a touch behind Mesut Ozil for the league lead.
He's also pretty decent at free kicks.
In addition to his passing and world-class ability on set pieces, Payet is a very capable dribbler, averaging 2.2 successful dribbles per game last season, which tied for 13th in the league. Payet also tied for the team lead in goals scored for the Hammers last season with 9 goals in league matches.
He has the ability to both score goals and set up goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, which makes him one of the most dangerous players in Europe.
2) Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Mesut Ozil cracks the list mainly due to his fantastic passing abilities.
Ozil is heavily involved in the team when Arsenal have the ball, averaging 65.1 passes per game last season (3rd most in the league). He was very accurate with these passes, completing them at an 86.3% success rate, and many of his passes led to scoring chances.
Ozil led the league in assists last season by a wide margin with 19, with second-place Christian Eriksen dishing out just 13. Ozil was also ahead of the pack in key passes per game (4.2). Based on the numbers, Ozil was the best passer in the Premier League last season.
He also added 6 goals and finished with a superb WhoScored.com rating of 7.66, the best club rating of his career.
1) Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez is representative of Leicester City's remarkable run to the title. Not much was expected out of either the Foxes or Mahrez, but each took the league by storm. The Algerian winger put together a breakout season that quickly established him as one of the most talented players in England.
Mahrez finished last season in the top five in the league in goals (17), assists (11), and dribbles per game (3.5). He is also pretty good at winning the ball back for his team, averaging 1.4 tackles per game and 1.0 interceptions per game last season.
This earned him the PFA Player of the Year Award, and it has drawn heavy interest from Arsenal.
Mahrez is an extremely talented dribbler and passer who creates goal scoring opportunities for his teammates. He also does well converting goal scoring opportunities of his own, making him a perfect option as a winger.
Whether he stays with Leicester or moves to Arsenal, Mahrez figures to be one of the best players in the Premier League once again this season.