The Premiership is by far the best football league in the world and we’re lucky enough to have a lot of the world’s best players playing in it. Since the inception of the Premier League, we’ve seen some of the most magical midfielders ever to kick a ball. Here are ten of the best.
Matt Le Tissier
Now working as a Sky Sports pundit, younger football fans may not realise just what a great footballer Matthew Le Tissier was back in his day. Born in Guernsey, he spent his entire lauareer at Southampton, winning 8 caps for England along the way.
Nicknamed ‘Le God’ by the Southampton faithful, he was gifted with some of the most extraordinary skills the Premiership has seen. Never one for running about a lot, he spent much of the game wandering around casually conserving his energy, but all of a sudden, in one little turn, he could place the ball in the back of the net from a seemingly impossible position.
Perhaps the most inconsistent of our choices, anyone who has seen one of his moments of brilliance will know that Matt Le Tissier was capable of being one of the world’s greatest players, but, for whatever reason, never quite achieved his potential.
The list of outstanding footballers that Liverpool has produced over the years is stunning. Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, John Barnes, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, and Graeme Souness to name but a few. However, it is Steven Gerrard that more and more fans are citing as their greatest ever player.
Time after time, Steven Gerrard has been the driving force behind Liverpool’s winning ways, most notably against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, where he inspired the Reds to come back from being 3-0 down to win the final in fantastic style.
A real footballer’s footballer, Steven Gerrard is strong in the tackle, inspirational with his passing and blessed with a great blend of pace and power. An out and out central midfielder, he has adapted this position over the years to suit the needs of the team, so has played as a box-to-box and defensive midfielder, out wide and, even at times, as a second striker. Never giving less than 100% commitment, Steven Gerrard is truly one of the Premiership greats.
Frank Lampard has a goal record that would make most world class strikers green with envy, all the more special in that he has spent his entire career as a central midfielder. But it’s not just his goal scoring that marks him out as one of the best midfielders ever to play in the premiership.
Lampard is one of the best passers of the ball the game has ever seen, and his defensive abilities are up there too. A dangerous free-kick taker, it was with a heavy heart that Chelsea fans saw him leave his beloved club for New York City. However, in a surprising turn of events, Frank Lampard finds himself at Manchester City, New York City’s sister club where he is defying his years and putting in some fantastic performances.
David Silva is a mainstay of the dominant Manchester City team. Playing as an attacking midfielder, but equally at home as a second striker or a winger, his silky skills have lit up the Premiership since joining Manchester City in 2010.
Starting his career with Valencia, he has been an influential member of the Spanish national team since the age of 20, winning the European Championships in 2008, the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships again in 2012.
Silva has become the Premier League’s best playmaker, and seems to be getting better and better every season. Able to see and execute what look like impossible passes, he has a great deal of pace and a real eye for goal too. Not the biggest of players, Silva is a feisty tackler, never one to shy away when the going gets rough. Silva’s won two titles with City, and if he continues in the same form as he has showed already, he should win more silverware with them.
The master of the holding midfielder role, it is often argued that he invented the role, but what is certain is that there’s never been anyone better at it. Brought into the Premiership by Chelsea in 2003 for what now looks like a bargain £16.8m, he was overshadowed in the press at first by players such as Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff. However, it didn’t take long for Chelsea to realise that Makalele’s contribution to the team was absolutely crucial to their success. With attacking talents like Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba, it was Makalele’s disciplined performances that let stars like those shine.
So dedicated to his defensive role, Makelele didn’t score a goal in his first two seasons at Chelsea, this only changing when he took a penalty against Charlton after Chelsea had already secured the Premiership title. It’s testament to Makalele’s presence as a midfielder that Jose Mourinho built his team around him and his amazing abilities.
Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane
We’ve had to put Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane together because they are so inextricably linked in Premiership history. Cut from the same cloth, they were both inspirational leaders to their teams and both world-class tough tackling central midfielders.
Vieira made 279 Premiership appearances and Keane 326, both retiring in 2005. The rivalry between them was as intense as any the Premiership has seen, both of them epitomising the pride and passion of their respective clubs.
Both having a no-nonsense, never-say-die attitude, both were known to cross the line at times throughout their career. Viera spat on Neil Ruddock in 1999 and was banned for a total of six matches, whilst Roy Keane admitted in his autobiography that he deliberately broke the leg of Manchester City’s, Alf-Inge Haaland.
Loved by their own fans and hated by everyone else, this passion that they caused is a testament to their skills and qualities as footballers. With both of them equally at home in attack or defence, both Patrick VIeira and Roy Keane are complete midfielders and two of the best that the Premiership has seen.
Fabregas was at Barcelona until the age of 16 but felt his chances limited, so he decided to try his luck elsewhere, and it was then that he signed for Arsenal. This was the beginning of 8 fantastic years at the club, where he established himself as one of the club’s greatest ever players and was made club captain at just 21 years of age.
Wonderfully gifted as a footballer, he is equally happy in front of goal as he is creating goals, and is one of the Premiership’s leading assist-makers, highlighting his team ethic and unselfishness. Brought back to Barcelona for £25m, his subsequent decision to join Chelsea may have left some Arsenal players disappointed. But the fact is that the Premier League is a better place for his presence, whoever he plays for.
Voted the player they would most like to re-sign by Barcelona fans, Yaya Toure is the awesome presence at the very heart of the Manchester City midfield. An absolute powerhouse who also exhibits a natural grace whilst also being exceptionally quick, he came to Manchester City for just £24m, which looking back was an absolute bargain.
Toure has led City to two titles, and alongside David Silva and Vincent Kompany, is the team’s most irreplaceable player. With pace, power vision, there is no player like him in the Premier League, or indeed any league at the moment.
All has not been rosy with Toure and City though, although it is suspected much of this is due to his agent. There was talk of him being unhappy at not being wished happy birthday by the club, but the incident was played down by the player himself. He seems happier at City now, and remains one of the best players ever to grace the Premier League.
Quiet, unassuming and modest off field, Paul Scholes is anything but on it. At his best, there truly hasn’t been as good a midfielder in the Premiership. Described by Zinedine Zidane as the ‘complete midfielder’ and by Xavi as ‘the best central midfielder I have seen’, it’s testament to his sheer quality that he is talked about in such high regard by two of the best players in the world.
A fierce competitor, he also can play the ‘final pass’ better than most, as well as picking out the long passes with ease. Controlling every game he played in, he was also a constant goal threat too, scoring over 100 Premier League goals throughout his career.
The only thing Paul Scholes wasn’t good at was tackling. Genuinely quite bad at timing a tackle, he was the recipient of many a yellow (and a few red) cards throughout his career. However, his talent was such that he can be forgiven such misdemeanours, and he remains one of the greatest players the Premiership has seen, if not the best.