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The current generation of Premier League midfielders is among the best we’ve ever seen, with four of the finest in N’Golo Kante, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba plying their trade in the city of Manchester alone.
Here we pick our top 10 Premier League midfielders of all time. We've used a number of stats to quantify our rankings, as well as a player's overall contribution to the game in history. So who makes it into our top 10?
All stats come from premierleague.com and are correct as of the publish date.
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Purely on longevity, Ryan Giggs makes this list – playing more Premier League games than anyone other than Gareth Barry. What Barry doesn’t possess however, are 13 Premier League winners medals, the most in history by one player. Giggs was also the proud owner of ridiculous pace and control and the ability to go past people like they weren’t there. Unlike Barry.
The pick of today’s Premier League midfielders, the Belgian already owns three Premier League titles and three PL Players Player awards. “Kevin De Bruyne is the best Premier League passer the league has ever seen,” says Jamie Redknapp. “The weight of the ball, the killer-ball passes, the precision, is just phenomenal. He can hit a 30-yard passes like Scholes, he can play those little passes like the great exponents of it such as Xabi Alonso. He's just so good.”
If you’re looking for a fan of Yaya Toure, you don’t have to look much further than the manager who signed him for Manchester City and won the team’s first top-flight championship since 1968 with him at the heart of his 2011/12 team. “There are players that change the look of a team, and Yaya is one of them,” says Roberto Mancini of the midfielder, who would also win titles under Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola. “Toure, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of those players who can make the difference, who can change the outcome of a season by themselves like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo."
Years after leaving Arsenal, Arsene Wenger would describe Cesc Fabregas as the player he most regretted selling. An FA Cup winner with the Gunners, it would be at Chelsea after a three-year stint at Barcelona that the playmaker would win his two Premier League titles, ending his career second all-time to Ryan Giggs in assists.
One of the best ever defensive midfielders, Patrick Vieira provided the steel in Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles as the Gunners won three Premier League titles. Able to eat up ground with his lanky frame, his battles with, in particular, Roy Keane and the likes of Steven Gerrard and Claude Makelele were often the highlight of matches.
While the list of footballing figures that Roy Keane managed to fall out with over the years may be his most impressive statistic, the Irishman was the driving force of Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League in the 1990s. Keane won seven titles with Alex Ferguson (who he subsequently fell out with) and was the inspiration behind the 1999 Champions League semi-final second-leg victory over a Juventus team featuring Edgar Davids, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane that set up the memorable treble-clinching night in Barcelona (which he missed through suspension).
David Silva’s ability to create from nothing earned him the nickname The Magician and his decade at Manchester City would conjure up four Premier League titles. “He is one of the most incredible, intelligent players in the small spaces,” says his manager at City, Pep Guardiola. “He is one of the best I’ve ever known. It’s not just the quality, he’s a huge competitor in the training matches. The Premier League is not easy, and he did it. He must be so proud.”
Super Stevie Gerrard was one of those rare players capable of putting a team on their back and willing them to victory. Witness, for example, his Man of the Match performance in the Miracle of Istanbul. And cruelly, it was his slip that saw the 2014 Premier League title, er, slip away for Liverpool. An Anfield legend, he ended his career with more goals than any midfielder other than the next player on this list.
Gerrard’s peer and partner in crime in the misfiring golden generation England midfield, Frank Lampard’s goalscoring record is second to none and he edges the Liverpool man by virtue of his three Premier League titles. Perhaps Jose Mourinho, his manager for six seasons at Chelsea said it best: “Lamps is Lamps. When he plays well, he is best in the game, when he plays bad, he is the second or the third best.”
Arguably the best midfielder England has ever produced, Paul Scholes pulled the strings for Alex Ferguson’s Reds from 1993 to 2003, winning 11 Premier League titles on the way. Able to play any pass and with a rocket for a shot, the diminutive Scholes’ admirers come from all over the footballing world. "He’s almost untouchable in what he does,” said Zinedine Zidane. “You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get. One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career."
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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