Jadon Sancho topped the 2019/20 Bundesliga chart for pre-assisters: the men who provide the pass before the assist - © DFL
Jadon Sancho topped the 2019/20 Bundesliga chart for pre-assisters: the men who provide the pass before the assist - © DFL
bundesliga

Jadon Sancho, Thiago Alcantara and the top five players who play the second assist

Jadon Sancho heads a visionary cast including Borussia Dortmund teammate Julian Brandt and Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara of the Bundesliga's second assist masters: the men who can spot and play the pass that - one more killer ball later - leads to a goal.

bundesliga.com looks at the top five second assisters from the 2019/20 campaign.

1st: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), 11 pre-assists

"Barcelona don't need a lot of new players: perhaps Jadon Sancho or Serge Gnabry." Xavi - THE Xavi of Barca and Spain's peak years - could certainly pick a pass, and so it makes sense he can also pick a player who can make one.

Sancho too can pick a player wherever and whenever on the field he needs to. While his goals and assists - both in double figures in 2019/20 - grab the most headlines, the England international's team play can, but shouldn't, go unnoticed as he proved the most crucial cog in Dortmund machine in 2019/20.

Watch: The tactical evolution of Jadon Sancho's game

His understanding with Achraf Hakimi behind him or Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard alongside him in the final third - not to mention his instant telepathic link to Erling Haaland following the Norway international striker's January arrival - made Lucien Favre's men ultra-slick going forward.

Want proof? Sancho's 85.9 percent pass completion ratio is simply sensational when you consider that virtually all of those came in the pressure cooker conditions of the opposition final third when fleet of mind and foot must be at their most acute.

2nd: Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), 10

Brandt's maiden season for Dortmund has been like the Germany international himself: understated but hugely impressive. Three goals and seven assists are a reasonable return from 33 league appearances, but the summer 2019 arrival from Bayer Leverkusen - when you scratch the surface of the stats - had an even more significant influence on last season's runners-up.

"He's such a good player and you've got to give good players the ball as much as possible," said Brandt's former boss, Peter Bosz, and it's a maxim Favre has followed too. And to great success.

Often operating in a deeper role removed some of Brandt's impact in the opposition penalty area, but it opened up opportunities for him to keep the team ticking in a way his Swiss coach surely appreciates with his 84.5 percent pass completion ratio simply outstanding.

3rd=: Ridle Baku (Mainz), 8

Without a doubt, Baku is the surprise name in this top five. While the other men in the chart play for teams challenging at the top end of the table, Mainz finished just six points above the relegation/promotion play-off spot. The fact they did so means they owe a decent slice of gratitude to Baku.

Ridle Baku was a focal figure in Mainz's successful battle against relegation in 2019/20. - Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Once again, the stats everyone looks to first - a single goal and three assists in 30 league appearances - do not even tell the first chapter of the story. Baku would surely have played more of a central role in Mainz's survival had he, well, played more of a central role on the pitch.

Frequently employed on the right of midfield and even at right-back, the 22-year-old's versatility served the 05ers well, but it was his ability to find the ball to help his side open up opposing rearguards that was most valuable.

3rd=: Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), 8

Did someone say 'pivotal'? If Spain have not christened a successor to the iconic Xavi, Bayern's metronomically effective Iberian is surely the closest thing they have got. Ex-FCB boss Pep Guardiola said it was "Thiago or nothing" when asked who he wanted to sign when he arrived at the Allianz Arena in 2013, and in the last seven years, we have all seen why.

Injury curtailed his contribution to the Bundesliga-DFB Cup winners' cause late in the 2019/20 season, but the former Barcelona man had already made a significant impact.

Watch: Thiago's Skill Drill

Stationed alongside Joshua Kimmich, Thiago's precision vision and laser-guided passing skills were a potent combination. He completed 91 percent of his passes in his 24 league appearances with eight balls providing the opening for a teammate to then tee up another (a good chance it was Robert Lewandowski!) for one of the 100 Bundesliga goals Bayern netted last season.

"He's very important for the team and the club," said ex-Bayern forward Giovane Elber. "He's got character and makes a difference on both sides of the ball. He supports his teammates and makes them better." Enough said!

3rd=: Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach), 8

Marco Rose's side started the season so well, and then dipped. While they did not feel Stindl's injury-enforced absence too keenly when they were flying early in the campaign, there is no doubt the captain's impact was significant in squeezing Gladbach into the top four by the end of it.

Rose chose to keep the Germany international as his captain - a decision initially made by successor Dieter Hecking - and as soon as Stindl had recovered from the shin fracture that had cut short his 2018/19 season, the armband was his again.

Lars Stindl's contribution helped Borussia Mönchengladbach make a return to UEFA Champions League football. - Lars Baron/DFL/Bundesliga Collection/Getty Images

It was easy to see why: after sweating his way to full fitness during the winter break, Stindl was key. All but one of his nine league goals came after Christmas, and add his three assists to his eight pre-assists, and the 31-year-old was involved in nearly a third of all his team's 2019/20 league goals.

"I want to contribute in my way," Stindl had said ahead of the Rückrunde. The fact he was in the running for his club's Player of the Season award is glowing testament to the fact he did.