With the World Cup in Russia providing plenty of moments of drama, controversy and downright outstanding football, let’s now take a look at which players are helping their own country’s cause by providing the most assists. Midfielders tend to be the big hitters in this category, picking up the ball from defenders and moving it forward to their colleagues up front to dispatch the ball into the back of the net. This tournament has been no different of course, with Uruguay’s Carlos Sánchez the only non-midfielder near the top of the charts. He has provided assists for two goals from his native attacking position up front, but the others who are also on two assists (so far) are all from the middle of the park.
Viktor Claesson (Sweden), James Rodríguez (Colombia) and host star Aleksandr Golovin have also each provided two assists for their respective teams, but Golovin is the player being given the nod here, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he plays for the home nation – who also happen to be the lowest ranked team at the tournament. The fact that they have qualified for the round of 16 is testament to their efforts, and Golovin has been widely regarded as one of their best players thus far in the competition. Arsenal, Man Utd and Barcelona have reportedly sat forward and taken an interest in his services, and so it could be argued that he has been the biggest “breakout” star of the summer.
He is also the only player in the top 25 goalscorers to have provided two assists as well (admittedly he has only scored one goal himself so far). His eye for a pass is clear for all to see and it is certainly not difficult to see just why some of Europe’s top clubs have looked at him. Having been a youth player at CSKA Moscow, Golovin made his senior debut for the club in 2014 and has remained there thus far, scoring nine goals in 81 appearances so far. His “appearances” column has steadily increase over the last couple of seasons, and so the question will clearly be asked about whether he can be tempted by a move across Europe.
He earned his first international cap just a year or so after entering the fray in CSKA’s first team, and so has actually earned more caps for Russia so far than Denis Cheryshev. The pair have linked up beautifully so far in the World Cup of course, with Russia heading for a last 16 tie against former European and World champions Spain at 3pm on 1st July in Moscow, at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Golovin dropped to the bench for Russia’s final group game against Uruguay – a 3-0 defeat – and while his absence during Russia’s only defeat from the opening three implies a reliance that wouldn’t necessarily seem to be the case. He should, however, be ready and raring to go when his country take on the Spaniards – which could give Barcelona scouts a real taste for whether or not he has a place in their team next season.