The game of football has evolved constantly and so have the roles of defenders. In the modern era, defensive players are expected to contribute to the attack and play a key role in building up play from the back.
Managers have encouraged their full-backs to take an attacking approach, aiding the team whenever possible. This approach has turned out to be productive and very handy for some of the top clubs.
In the past three seasons, the contribution of defenders in the attack has only increased. While center-backs have been useful, full-backs have been more productive courtesy of their positional freedom.
Since the start of the 2019-20 season, top defenders have created goals on a consistent basis. With some of them authorized to be their respective team’s set-piece takers, it only aids their cause. Here, we take a look at the defenders with the most assists in the last three seasons.
Note: Europe’s top five leagues are considered
5. Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Ever since joining Barcelona in the 2012-13 season, Jordi Alba has grown into one of their most respected and valuable players. The Spanish defender has been a major contributor in the attack down the left flank despite his primary responsibility being to contain the opposition.
Alba has always capitalized on the slightest of opportunities to expose the opposition on the left wing. Using his amazing passing range and vision, the Barcelona left-back has been a regular assist-provider for the Catalan club.
Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Alba has provided 20 league assists. His best performance for Barcelona came in the 2021-22 campaign where he ended up registering 10 assists, his personal career best.
4. Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain)
At a very young age, Achraf Hakimi has been blessed with the opportunity to play for some of the top European clubs. Having graduated from Real Madrid’s youth academy, the Moroccan defender struggled to find regular game-time with Los Blancos.
He joined Borussia Dortmund on loan in the 2018-19 season where he spent two seasons. Hakimi eventually joined Inter Milan permanently in the 2020-21 campaign but left the club after a single season to play for Paris Saint-Germain.
At the age of 23, the Moroccan right-back has turned out to be quite popular among the top European teams. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Hakimi has registered 24 assists to his name, some of which also involve him playing as a right wing-back.
3. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Under Jurgen Klopp’s management, Liverpool have adopted an attacking style of football. This brand of game-play involves the full-backs being highly participative in attack.
Due to this approach, Andrew Robertson has benefitted immensely and has made the most out of it. With his dangerous crossing abilities, the Scottish defender has been devastating down the left flank.
Robertson has always enjoyed the opportunity to contribute in attack, and as a result, has registered 29 assists since the start of the 2019-20 season. He was highly instrumental in helping Liverpool win the Premier League in the 2019-20 campaign, having contributed with 12 assists.
2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
The fact that there are two Liverpool full-backs on this list speaks highly of how effective they have been for the club over the past few years. Along with Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a menace for the opposition.
The Englishman has superb technique and possesses a wide range of passing and crossing abilities. Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided some stunning balls in the box and has been great with his set-pieces.
The Liverpool right-back cherishes the opportunity to move forward and has seldom shown any hesitancy in doing so. Trent Alexander-Arnold has registered 32 assists since the start of the 2019-20 season and was the second-highest assist provider last campaign.
With his potential, the 23-year-old is capable of achieving a lot of success in the future.
1. Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Filip Kostic has been playing in the Bundesliga since the 2014-15 season and is well-versed with its demands now. He joined Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2018-19 campaign and has since been with them.
Over time, the Serbian has only gone on to get better with his attacking approach. With his fabulous passing and crossing abilities, Kostic has been able to contribute in goals on a regular basis.
Despite playing at left-back, the Eintracht Frankfurt defender has turned out to be a massive asset on the left wing. Kostic has registered 34 assists in the past three seasons. The Serbian’s best campaign came in the 2020-21 season where he went on to contribute 14 assists in the Bundesliga.