All hail Leipzig's Emil Forsberg, the Bundesliga assist king
RB Leipzig were hardly short of inspiration in 2016/17, but it was the creative juices of Emil Forsberg that typified their meteoric debut Bundesliga campaign.
The 25-year-old Sweden international was instrumental in the Saxon gatecrashers' top-two finish, signing off for the season with a Bundesliga-high 19 assists in 30 string-pulling outings.
So what's his story? A two-time Allsvenskan champion with Swedish side Malmo, the Sundsvall-born midfielder made a steady start to life at Leipzig with four assists in 14 Bundesliga 2 appearances during the second half of 2014/15. His influence grew in 2015/16's historic promotion-clinching campaign - eight goals and seven assists - and his upward trajectory has continued ever since.
Forsberg struck gold at the third attempt in the Bundesliga, chiming in with a goal and two assists in Leipzig's 4-0 cakewalk at Hamburg on Matchday 3. He successfully unpicked the locks of the likes of Augsburg, Wolfsburg, Mainz, Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg, Schalke and Hertha Berlin in the months that followed, with a straight red card in the Matchday 16 defeat to Bayern Munich the only blot to an otherwise flawless copybook.
Watch: Leipzig blew Hamburg away at the Volksparkstadion on Matchday 3
Fortunately, the return fixture five months later did not pass him by. Although Leipzig lost the game 5-4, despite leading 4-2 with seven minutes to play, Forsberg reminded onlookers why strikers are only as good as their supply line with a hat-trick of now prerequisite assists. Teeing up Denmark international Yussuf Poulsen in the final-day draw in Frankfurt cemented his place as the 2016/17 Bundesliga's assist king.
Watch: Forsberg gave Gladbach what for on Matchday 21
A cursory glance at the players he managed to outdo underscores Forsberg's game-changing capabilities. Joint-second on the list of providers sit Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern's Thomas Müller (both 12). Inverted wing veterans Arjen Robben (11) and Franck Ribery (nine) complete the top five. An exalted quartet, but still some way short of the Leipzig No.10 in the cut and thrust department.
What is more, aside from posting the best goals and assists per minute ratio of any winger across Europe's top five leagues this term, Forsberg's vision and instinct have ensured anyone fortunate enough to fall onto his heat-seeking radar thrives.
Watch: Bundesliga Team of the Season - the left wingers
Timo Werner is a case in point. In 96 Bundesliga appearances for former club Stuttgart, he scored 13 goals. In 21 outings for Leipzig in 2016/17, the freshly minted Germany international rattled off 21 - seven of which came by way of a Forsberg assist.
It goes without saying, Forsberg's creative mastery has opened up a whole new world of goal-scoring fun in the Leipzig ranks, but Werner is not the only beneficiary. Veteran defender Marvin Compper, club captain Willi Orban, Austria international Marcel Sabitzer, breakout star Naby Keita, Germany Under-21 Davie Selke and Poulsen all owe at least one of their Bundesliga goals to the Swedish playmaker, who has turned the humble assist into an art form.