The Hard Tackle enlists five of the most magical of assists from 2016, featuring the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Dimitri Payet and others

The five assists chosen to be featured in this list are provided by Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea FC, Dimitri Payet of West Ham United FC, Fabian Castillo of FC Dallas and Dimitri Oberlin of SC Rheindorf Altach.

Boy, oh boy has 2016 been a year of wonderful football. We were spoilt for choice with tens of assists that could have easily snuck their way into the list. But after careful examination, we feel the following five deserve to be named herein:

5. Cesc Fabregas for Chelsea FC vs Watford at Vicarage Road (20.08.2016)

Chelsea seemed resigned to lose at Vicarage Road when Cesc Fabregas was thrown onto the pitch by Antonio Conte. And, it was his pass to get Diego Costa through for what turned out to be the winner that takes the cake. Absolute magic, is how the Spaniard’s pass could be described as.

Fabregas showed defensive awareness to nab the ball and once he did, his vision and passing range combined to produce one of the most magical of passes. While it does not look as exquisite, the pass grows on you with each instance of viewing.

If you notice the angle of Diego Costa’s run and the presence of two defenders on either side of him, Fabregas had to curve the pass in a way that it stays out of the reach of either of the defenders, something he managed to achieve, with aplomb. And this combined with the necessity of the situation is why the pass makes it to the list.

4. Lionel Messi for Barcelona vs Sampdoria at Nou Camp (10.08.2016)

Well, well, well! Lionel Messi is a worldwide phenomenon. Anything he does turns to magic. And as Barcelona hosted Sampdoria for Joan Gamper Trophy, the little Argentine produced another piece of magic to set Luis Suarez up for the opening goal of the match.

Lionel Messi got on the end of a cross and took control of the ball in the box, then set up Luis Suarez with a beautifully weighted overhead kick pass for the Uruguayan. This just had to make the list, for the sheer domineering nature of the whole sequence, topped with a piece of magic by the global icon.

3. Dimitri Oberlin for SC Rheindorf Altach vs Rapid Wien (31.07.2016)

Dimitri Oberlin is on the books of Red Bull Salzburg, but has been loaned out to SC Rheindorf Altach. And as the Cameroon-born Swiss forward faced Rapid Wien, he produced a magnificent run, one worthy of being played over and over again.

The player ran the whole length of the pitch and as he was surrounded by Rapid Wien defenders, he produced a backheel pass to set up his teammate through towards the goal, who finished with aplomb.

Such was the nature of the assist that even the coaching staff ran towards Oberlin to celebrate the magical assist. This, in all honesty, could have been ranked higher but the top two edges this because of the level of competition and skill that was on display.

2. Dimitri Payet for West Ham United vs Watford (10.09.2016)

There are no superlatives to describe Dimitri Payet’s time at West Ham United. The player, who has been touted as a promising prospect from his time at Marseille, has just taken the Premier League by storm since making the move to join the Hammers.

But this one topped it off. Payet ran the Watford side amok in the leadup to the goal. The French superstar faced up against the full-back before cutting inside and produce a rabona cross to set Michail Antonio up beautifully. The pass was exquisite and the commentators were rendered speechless.

You can also see the Swansea players motionless upon the pass as they did not know how to react to such an outrageous attempt by Dimitri Payet.

1. Fabian Castillo for FC Dallas vs Chicago Fire (17.07.2016)

Fabian Castillo just managed to beat the likes of Lionel Messi, Dimitri Payet and Cesc Fabregas — at least according to us. The 24-year-old Colombian produced a run worthy of the top spot.

Castillo took the ball up on the touchline, managed to beat two defenders before producing a perfectly placed rabona cross, putting the ball on a plate for Maximiliano Urruti to finish, which he did.

While this and Payet’s may be almost similar and even though Dimitri Payet’s cross had a brilliant swerve to curl it past the defenders in the box, this was tougher as it was a running  onewhile Payet had an almost still ball at his feet at that moment of time.

Also, in the event leading up to the assist, Castillo had more to do than Payet before putting in that cross, something which tipped the top spot in the Colombian’s favour.

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