The ten players who have set up the most goals in Champions League history.
The ten players who have set up the most goals in Champions League history.

For club football fans, the Champions League is the top level. Many football players dream of being in the spotlight in Europe’s most prestigious game, but only a small group of teams, usually the very best, get to make their dreams come true by winning the whole thing.

Scoring goals is often praised as the hardest thing to do in football. That’s why most of the Ballon d’Or winners play in the middle or are wide players who score a lot of goals. But how about some praise for the makers who have a ridiculously high number of assists?

There is no disagreement among football fans that the most amazing pass to a striker is often what makes a goal great. Over the past few years, this skill has been pushed to the side, but today we’re highlighting players who help out like it’s nothing.

When we thought about the art of helping and players who have played in the Champions League, we asked ourselves: which 10 players, past and present, have had the most assists at Europe’s top table since the competition began? The answers were easy to find on UEFA‘s website, but we’re here to go over them again. Why are you still here? Let’s start.

The ten players who have set up the most goals in Champions League history

RankPlayerAssist tally
1Cristiano Ronaldo42
2Lionel Messi40
3Ángel di María38
4Neymar33
5Ryan Giggs31
6Xavi30
7Karim Benzema29
8Andrés Iniesta29
9Thomas Müller29
10Kevin De Bruyne28

Cristiano Ronaldo – 42 assists

The person from Mr. Champions League was always going to be at the top of this list, right? Even though he is best known for scoring goals, the Portuguese star and player with the most goals scored on the international stage after 2000 has also helped his teammates win Europe’s top tournament 42 times.

His 42 assists are now available to players outside of Europe because he has decided to spend his last years away from Europe. Three players on this list, along with many others, are vying for the gold medal. It’s a shame, because Cristiano Ronaldo and the Champions League go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Lionel Messi – 40 assists

Even though he didn’t make it to the top of the podium, Lionel Messi, the short Argentine who just won a record-setting eighth Ballon d’Or, is probably the best creator in football history. It was interesting that it took the great football player six tries to get his first assist in the Champions League. After that, well, you know the rest.

Someone set up Samuel Eto’o’s third goal of his hat-trick to make it 5-0 against Panathinaikos. At the time, no one knew it, but it was an important moment in football history. Messi’s record of 40 goals will stand for a long time. He is now nearing the end of his illustrious career and playing for Inter Miami.

Ángel di María – 38 assists

Angel di María has won so many trophies that it’s unthinkable that he could pass Messi for first place on this list when his career is over. Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and Benfica are five of Europe’s top seven teams where he has played, which probably helps his case. But there’s no denying how creative the Argentine is.

Although he has only won one game, Di Maria has racked up 38 assists over the course of his long career. At age 35, he has little to no chance of adding to his two Champions League wins, but he still has a lot of time to increase the number of goals he has. Messi and Ronaldo, keep an eye on this.

Neymar – 33 assists

Neymar is one of the best players of our time. He was an important part of Barcelona’s treble-winning season in 2014–15, when they added the Champions League to their collection of titles. People who watch a lot of La Liga were blessed with his skill, and everyone could see it on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before he moved to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia over the summer. His 33 assists are proof of that. The man on this list who has scored an impressive 21 hat-tricks since the turn of the century is also the youngest at 31 years old. If he is still playing football in his late 30s, he could make a huge comeback to Europe in the last few years of his career.

Ryan Giggs had 31 assists

Ryan Giggs has a good chance of living a long time. With 141 Champions League games under his belt, all of them for Manchester United, the experienced Welshman found a partner 30 times, showing that he knew how to perform on Europe’s biggest stage.

Because of his ties to the Old Trafford team, he is on Sir Alex Ferguson’s most-used team in terms of games. He was a key part of both of United’s Champions League wins in 1998 and 2008. Fans of Manchester United see him as a true hero, but because of how well he did in the Champions League, he can also be seen as a great of the sport in general.

Xavi Hernandez – 30 assists

Fans may now think that Xavi is the fifth-best manager in the world of football, but never forget how good he was for Barcelona before. In his prime, the Spanish player was a controlled orchestrator. After retiring, he became a manager, and now he stands on the other side of the white line at Camp Nou, a stadium he lit up every year.

Xavi, along with Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta, was the heart of one of Europe’s best teams while they played for Barcelona. It wasn’t easy for the midfield master to play 767 games for the same team, but no boss was willing to let him go because he was so good at setting up goals. He had 213 goals over the course of his career, with 30 of them coming in the Champions League.

Karim Benzema – 29 assists

Ronaldo stole the show a lot of the time, but the Frenchman aged like a good wine and won five Champions Leagues while playing for Real Madrid. In 2022/23, Karim Benzema became the oldest player in the league to score back-to-back hat-tricks. He was known for scoring goals without cheating.

But you can’t ignore the fact that he has a lot of assists. The 97-times-capped France international scored 29 goals in 149 Champions League games, which is a good return for someone whose job it is to make chances happen instead of making them. Playing in Europe’s best competition is a thing of the past for him now, though, since he quit and moved to Saudi Arabia for the money over the summer.

Andrés Iniesta – 29 assists

On the football pitch, Andres Iniesta and Xavi were never too far apart. It looks like that idea applies to this list as well. With just two fewer assists in the Champions League (29) than his countryman, the now 39-year-old star player led Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Juventus in Berlin and was named Man of the Match.

When he helped his centre partner Ivan Rakitic just three minutes into the crucial match, the Spaniard became the first person to help out in three different Champions League finals. That’s quite an accomplishment, but it just shows that Iniesta was there for them in any way possible when it meant the most.

Thomas Müller – 29 assists

He is the most expensive 34-year-old football player in the world for a good reason: he never seems to age. Thomas Müller is a mainstay at Bayern Munich. He has been a consistent performer for the Bavarians for 15 years and has just one goal short of 30 to show his European pedigree. Of course, he will get more than 30 assists at some point, since he still has a lot of years left to add to his total. And don’t forget that Harry Kane, who is usually a centre forward who breaks down defences, is now playing in front of him.

We know it’s crazy, but three of his 29 assists came in one game against Barcelona. The German had a hand in three goals on that famous night, when the final score was 8–2. Plus, who knows, things might have been very different without Muller.

Kevin De Bruyne – 28 assists

Kevin De Bruyne could quickly become one of the top scorers on the list in a few years if Erling Haaland keeps latching on to his passes like they’re going out of style. He’s one of only five players in the Premier League history to have 100 assists, so what’s stopping him from doing the same thing in Europe? We’re not.

Before 2022/23, he didn’t have a Champions League award in his collection. The former Chelsea prospect was as important as ever in leading his team to their famous 1-0 win over Inter Milan, but he had to watch from the sidelines because he got hurt in the final. However, luckily for Manchester City’s magician, his team secured their first victory across the whole tournament.

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