Top 10 Best Playmakers In Football (2024)

James Maddison best playmakers in football LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: James Maddison of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 14, 2024 in London, England.
(Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

In football, a playmaker is a player who controls the flow of the team’s play and is often involved in both offensive and defensive play.

He makes passing moves that lead to goals — through excellent vision, tactical intelligence, technique, ball control, creativity, and passing ability.

Opening up an opposition defence is not always easy. It takes a special type of player to do so, as it is about more than just pace or dribbling abilities; it’s about having the intelligence to see the openings that others can’t and also having the flawless passing technique to exploit those tiny gaps available.

In ranking the best playmakers in the world, while the number of assists provided has carried increasing importance in the modern game, playmakers still get judged based on their ability to dictate the tempo of a game and find those passes that most couldn’t.

Some might confuse playmakers with attacking midfielders, but playmakers can actually occupy various roles like wingers, “false nines,” trequartistas, holding midfielders, wingbacks, or even defensive midfielders.

Playmakers operating from a defensive position are known as deep-lying playmakers.

Here are TOP SOCCER BLOG’s top 10 best playmakers in the world in 2024.

Top 10 Best Playmakers in Football 2024

These are best playmakers in football for 2024, who created chances, and most goalscoring opportunities. This list is in no particular order.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kevin De Bruyne best set-piece takers in the world BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City makes his way to take a corner kick during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Manchester City at Brentford Community Stadium on February 05, 2024 in Brentford, England.
(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Kevin De Bruyne has been regarded by many as the best playmaker in the world over the last decade.

The Manchester City midfielder is the ultimate playmaker. He can open up stubborn defences with incisive passes and can equally shoot the ball accurately from a distance.

De Bruyne has cemented his status as one of the best midfielders in the world, with his accomplishments and performances.

The arrival of Erling Haaland at Man City has made De Bruyne more dangerous than ever. The 32-year-old registered 10 assists from 18 matches in the Premier League this season, although he struggled with injuries.

2. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)

Lionel Messi best playmakers in football FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - MAY 18: Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF (1) in action against D.C.United (0) during a MLS League game at the Chase Stadium on May 18th, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
(Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

Regarded by some as the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi is a complete attacker that can do almost everything with total ease.

The Argentine cannot just score goals but can create them as well, which is why he is among the football players with the most assists in football history.

Messi’s sensational dribbling skills and technique make him a nightmare playmaker for any defender to come across on the pitch.

Furthermore, he can also thread passes through the needle, which makes him an ideal partner for any attacker.

Lionel Messi left PSG for Inter Miami in 2023 and has performed excellently in his first season, but has been on fire in 2023/24 — registering 9 assists along with 10 goals in just 10 matches so far.

The Argentine legend is not just one of the best playmakers in football now, but one of the best players in the MLS.

3. Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)

Luka Modrić best midfielders in the world BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 12: Luka Modric of Real Madrid in action during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Athletic Club and Real Madrid CF at Estadio de San Mames on August 12, 2023 in Bilbao, Spain.
(Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Luka Modric is one of the most complete midfielders in the world, with the ability to be able to play just virtually anywhere across the middle of the park.

His heroic displays saw him break the Messi-Ronaldo monopoly to win the Ballon d’Or in 2018 after guiding Croatia to the FIFA World Cup final.

The 38-year-old continues to excel at the highest level with his ability to set the tempo of a match by controlling possession from the middle of the pitch.

Modrić is considered one of the best in “pre-assist” or build-up plays — often creating space and time for his teammates to shoot or deliver goal-bound passes to other players.

The Croatian is also effective at taking set pieces — particularly corners or wide free kicks.

4. Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal)

Martin Odegaard best football players with the best vision INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal during the pre season match between Arsenal and FC Barcelona at SoFi Stadium on July 26, 2023 in Inglewood, California.
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Martin Ødegaard has established himself as one of the top playmakers in football, especially after propelling Arsenal to a strong title challenge.

Apart from his playmaking, his ability to evade pressure with balance, agility, and excellent close control makes him a formidable presence in tight spaces, reminiscent of the qualities admired in Mesut Özil and Guti.

Ødegaard’s creativity is not just limited to his dribbling; his vision and range of passing enable him to orchestrate play from deeper positions, as highlighted by his transformation under Mikel Arteta into a more deep-lying playmaker, which has significantly enhanced Arsenal’s counter-attacking potency.

The Gunners’ No.8 also has registered impressive numbers when it comes to completed final third passes (531) and through-balls (18). His eight goals and 10 assists in the EPL last season are also remarkable.

5. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

Bruno Fernandes best midfielders in the world MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United looks on during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and RC Lens at Old Trafford on August 05, 2023 in Manchester, England.
(Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Bruno Fernandes is one of the best playmakers in the English Premier League. The Portuguese has set the league alight since his arrival at Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon.

Although he has been relatively inconsistent of late, Bruno can still decide a match solely, on his day.

He possesses superb awareness, vision, and passing range.

Manchester United might have had a dismal campaign last season, but Fernandes’ quality was still there, as he averaged the most key passes per game in the Premier League (3.3).

6. Trent-Alexander Arnold (Liverpool)

Trent Alexander-Arnold best full-backs in the world LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on August 19, 2023 in Liverpool, England.
(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Arguably the best wingbacks in the world, Trent-Alexander Arnold has — along with other modern fullbacks — redefined the role.

It is very rare to see a defender dictating how a team plays, but that’s exactly what Arnold does regularly at Liverpool — due to his excellent play making abilities.

He can link up well with the attackers, pull out wicked crosses into the box, and very, very dangerous at set pieces.

Although he regularly gets criticised for his defensive lapses, Alexander-Arnold makes up for it in the attack.

In fact, he averaged 2.3 key passes per game in the Premier League, which is highly commendable for a defender.

He is also one of the football players with the best vision.

7. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Bernardo Silva footballers with the best first touch MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Bernardo Silva of Manchester City controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City and Rb Leipzig at Etihad Stadium on November 28, 2023 in Manchester, England.
(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Manchester City’s squad is full of brilliant playmakers who can each decide a match: from De Bruyne to Bernardo Silva, Jeremy Doku, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Julian Alvarez and Rodri.

This is why Pep Guardiola’s side can comfortably play without a proper striker.

Bernardo Silva’s versatility across the front line makes him an important member of the team.

Moreso, the Portuguese midfielder’s technique, intelligence, ball control, and passing makes him a handful for opposition defenders.

8. Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Inter Milan)

Hakan Çalhanoğlu best playmakers in football MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 28: Hakan Calhanoglu of FC Internazionale takes a penalty during the Serie A TIM match between FC Internazionale and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 28, 2024 in Milan, Italy.
(Photo by Mattia Pistoia – Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

Hakan Çalhanoğlu has been among the best playmakers in the world since his days at Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan, and now at Inter Milan.

The Turkish midfielder is very dangerous from set-pieces and can run through balls between defenders from anywhere.

Çalhanoğlu is not just one of the best playmakers in football, but also one of the best set-piece takers in football.

The recent Serie A winner has been used in deeper midfield positions throughout his career, including in a holding role, in which he has operated as a deep-lying playmaker, or as an offensive–minded central midfielder, known as the mezzala role among fans in Italy.

He is also one of the most lethal penalty-takers in football.

9. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Florian Wirtz best right-footed players LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 23: Florian Wirtz of Leverkusen controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at BayArena on February 23, 2024 in Leverkusen, Germany. /
(Photo by Jörg Schüler/Bayer 04 Leverkusen via Getty Images)

With a remarkable 18 goals and 19 assists in the 2023/24 campaign, Florian Wirtz cemented his status as one of the best playmakers in football.

Bayer Leverkusen had one of the greatest football campaigns of all time, and at the heart of their performance was the German attacking midfielder.

Back in March 2022, Wirtz tore his anterior cruciate ligament and took almost a year to recover. However, no one expected him to be this good after a serious injury.

Wirtz’s playmaking was evident last season and he has been a consistent performer in the final third based on his average of 2.2 shots, 2.3 key passes and 2.5 dribbles per game in the Bundesliga.

To add to that, he is careful when distributing the ball in the opposition half based on his pass completion rate of 84.6% in league football.

10. James Maddison (Tottenham Hotspur)

James Maddison best playmakers in football LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: James Maddison of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 14, 2024 in London, England.
(Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

James Maddison is the kind of playmaker that often gets fans off their seat. The English midfielder has an eye for making defence-splitting passes virtually from anywhere on the pitch.

Maddison took the Premier League by storm last season when he joined Tottenham and was even named the Premier League’s Player of the Month for August.

However, in November 2023, Maddison was crippled with an ankle injury in a home match against Chelsea, which limited his shine.

Nonetheless, his impressive 9 assists from 28 EPL games, still puts him on our list of the best playmakers in football at the moment.

Maddison is also dangerous from set-pieces.

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