Premier League Player Focus: Assist Kings Outside The Top Six

Raphinha

21/22 Premier League Assist Underdogs

As part of our 21/22 Premier League player focus feature, we've started things a little differently.

Ahead of the new season, we've highlighted some players outside of the traditional top six, that will be looking to rack up the assists throughout the new campaign.

Whether you are on the hunt for some Fantasy Football bargains or just interested in some pre-season reading, take a look at the names below!

Raphinha - Leeds United

This piece today will no doubt feature some 'seasoned ballers', so who better to kick things off with than Leeds United's Raphinha. One of the bargains of the Premier League last season, the winger took to life in England with a swing in his step, and a few stepovers too.

He contributed to 15 league goals in total, 9 of which came through assists. Managers across Europe long for a wide-player than can produce such numbers and creativity, to help support the ever-growing role of the lone striker.

Patrick Bamford certainly benefited from such, registering 17 in the league. We looked into the striker's odds to win the Golden Boot next season here.

There is plenty of attacking support in Marcelo Bielsa's side, and the Brazilian will only be looking to improve on his stellar 20/21 season.

Emiliano Buendía - Aston Villa

At the time of writing, Emiliano Buendía is unquestionably the most exciting signing of the summer, at least for those clubs outside the top six.

The tricky winger won the 20/21 Championship Player of the Year, helping Norwich ease to their title and promotion. 15 goals and 16 assists are what his stats read, with nobody questioning his individual award. In fact, such form resulted in his first Argentina senior call-up.

Aston Villa were quick to snap the wizard up, who will now be performing in the Premier League in a much more settled and attacking side. It is worth noting, however, he did manage 7 assists during his 19/20 campaign in the division with Norwich. Since then, he has only matured and developed.

With Ollie Watkins focusing much of his game inside the area, Buendia will be looking to attack the wide spaces and work the ball inside the area - oppositions will now have both flanks to consider against Villa, with Jack Grealish occupying the left.

Michael Olise - Crystal Palace

On the note of exciting seasons to watch out for next season, it would be rude to ignore Michael Olise.

Although much rawer than Buendia, the 19-year-old dazzled in the Championship last year, with his Reading side just missing out on a play-off spot. He registered 12 assists in total, the second most in the division.

Crystal Palace have snapped the teenager up, and it looks as though a first-team spot is waiting for him. Eberechi Eze is expected to be on the sidelines for a prolonged period of time - his absence will be felt in the side after a productive debut campaign, of which he missed just four PL games.

Can Olise step-up to the plate? New manager Patrick Vieira is expected to inject some new attacking ideas into the XI, and this kind of recruitment is a telling sign towards his projected philosophy.

Lucas Digne - Everton

Lucas Digne is one of the more senior names on the list, with his ability to produce goals being well documented. Since arriving at Everton in 2018, Andrew Robertson is the only left-back to produce more assists in the league. Certainly not bad company to be in.

The Frenchman registered 7 for the second successive year, despite only featuring 30 times. His direct style of getting down the flank and whipping the ball in has certainly correlated with Dominic Calvert Lewin's best ever scoring season, with the Toffees encouraging their players to work around the big target man.

Digne's 1.5 crosses per game ranked him 10th in the league in this department last season, and we expect this style of play to continue under the direct Rafael Benítez.

Jack Harrison - Leeds

The second Leeds player to make our list, and one that seems to go slightly under-appreciated with the mainstream audience.

We know this isn't the case at Elland Road, with those involved with the club celebrating his recent permanent deal, but why isn't everybody raving about the talented Jack Harrison?

The aforementioned Raphinha and Bamford steal the headlines, but the 24-year-old's presence is just as integral to Leeds' attacking line. His numbers of 8 goals and 8 assists are nicely symbolic of the balance he brings to the side - an energetic figure that covers the ground, but one that also possesses real quality in the final third.

Down that left-side, Harrison enjoys bursting into the area and frequently finds himself in crossing positions. Only eight other players registered more assists than him last season, five of whom represent the 'big six'.

Romain Perraud - Southampton

Fantasy Football players, jot down the name Romain Perraud.

The left-back has just arrived at Southampton to replace the departed Ryan Bertrand, and we expect him to tot up a few numbers next season.

We don't believe many readers will be familiar with the name, but the 23-year-old is an exciting full-back that loves to burst forward. He has come through the French ranks in recent years, most recently spending two campaigns with Ligue 1 side Brest.

Perraud contributed to 10 league goals last season, 7 of which were direct assists. Numerous clubs were touted with an interest back in January, but it is the Saints that came marching in with a £10m bid this summer. He is a player of real quality, and could prove to be a real gem.

Aaron Cresswell - West Ham

The Premier League really is blessed with quality in their left-back areas, and Aaron Cresswell certainly deserves recognition for his performances last season.

West Ham enjoyed a stellar campaign finishing sixth, with the Englishman missing just two games. During this time, he racked up eight assists. Our analysis of the player could virtually be a carbon copy of Digne from above - both men enjoy that whipping technique from the left, swinging crosses inwards to their selected attackers in the area.

Creswell averaged 1.6 crosses and 1.6 key passes per game last season, very respectable figures given the Hammers' tendency at times to sit deep. As a set piece taker, expect a similar output in the coming campaign.

Pascal Groß - Brighton

Pascal Groß arguably had the most overlooked 20/21 campaign in the Premier League. The 30-year-old had one of his best ever seasons in terms of attacking output, racking up a respectable 8 assists.

With the context that Brighton only scored 40 goals collectively, the CM certainly stood out as a bright spark. The SeaGulls have garnered an unwanted stigma as the 'XG kings', but such numbers do actually compliment their creative figures.

Groß will continue to pull the strings in the middle, and should a top forward come through the door, his numbers could make for similar reading once more.

Jack Grealish - Aston Villa

Although Jack Grealish doesn't necessarily fit our title in being an 'underdog', given the sheer attention he received at Euro 2020, his name simply has to make this list.

The Englishman was the only player outside of the 'top six' to hit double digits in assists last season, doing so in 26 games. For context, Harry Kane topped the assist charts with a respectable 14, but in 9 more games than the midfielder.

Had Grealish stayed fit, it's a fair argument to assume that his name would be top. Whether he stays at Villa or moves over to the Premier League champions, the tricky midfielder will no doubt once again improve. His game has escalated dramatically over the past two years, now established as one of the most lively attackers in Europe.

The 25-year-old will continue to run riot down the left channel, and stopping him will continue to prove a mystery for opposition defenders.

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