CIES Football Observatory


Issue n°216 - 26/02/2018

Best dribblers: Hazard ahead of Neymar and Messi

Issue number 216 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post uses OptaPro data to analyse the dribbling skills of big-5 league players. The dribbling index is calculated by multiplying the average number of dribbles achieved per 90 minutes with the percentage of successful ones. This allows us to take into account both the quantity and quality of dribbles. Three players clearly distinguish themselves in this area: Eden Hazard, Neymar and Lionel Messi.

While Neymar won so far a higher number of contests per 90 domestic league minutes, Hazard achieved a greater percentage of dribbles attempted: 75% compared to 62%. Messi’s success rate is also 62%. The highest percentages of successful dribbles among players figuring in the top 100 were measured for central midfielders: Mousa Dembélé, Mario Lemina, Julian Draxler, etc. This finding reflects the more defensive location of their dribbles.

Players trained in France are over-represented at the top of the table: nine in the first 15 positions. This reveals the excellence of the French training system and its ability to promote skilful players. The best ranked footballers trained in the other countries hosting the five major European leagues are Isco (16th), Zaha and Loftus-Cheek (19th), Draxler (19th) and D’Alessandro (38th). The technical profile of all big-5 league players is available here.

Best big-5 league dribblers since the start of the season

[A] Successful dribbles per 90 minutes of play - [B] Percentage of successful dribbles (domestic league matches)

Editors: Raffaele Poli, Roger Besson and Loïc Ravenel