The Premier League is regarded as one of the most competitive and top-quality football leagues in the world. With a plethora of foreign players joining the English top-flight, only a few have managed to leave a legacy, leaving behind a legendary impact that may never be surpassed. Let’s take a look at the top 10 greatest players to have graced the Premier League.
1. Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers & Newcastle United) stands tall as the greatest Premier League player of all time. The highest goalscorer in the history of the league, Shearer never played for a traditional ‘Big Six’ club. He scored a remarkable 260 goals in 441 appearances, making him the highest scorer in Premier League history. Shearer won the Premier League title with Blackburn in 1994-95 and came third in the Ballon d’Or rankings in 1996. In 2004, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
2. Thierry Henry
The talismanic Frenchman, Thierry Henry (Arsenal), joined Arsenal in 1999, and after a brief stint with Barcelona, he returned to the Emirates for a second spell. Henry was not just a goalscorer; he was also an excellent dribbler of the ball, making him arguably the most complete striker of his era. He registered a staggering 175 goals and 74 assists in 285 appearances in the English top-flight. Henry won two Premier League titles and two FA Cup trophies during his time with the Gunners. He was also a vital part of Arsenal’s Invincibles side in 2004.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
When Manchester United faced Sporting CP in 2003, they were stunned by a young, talented player named Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United). Sir Alex Ferguson quickly signed him up, and the rest is history. Ronaldo made a slow start to his Premier League career, but soon made a good impression with his dribbling abilities. Between 2003-09, Ronaldo won three consecutive Premier League titles, scoring 31 goals in 34 games in the 2007-08 season and winning the Ballon d’Or award. He is also the highest goalscorer in football history.
4. Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) is one of the greatest players to have played for Manchester City, winning five Premier League titles with them. He scored 184 goals and recorded 47 assists across a decade at the club, playing 275 league matches. Aguero scored the winning goal in the club’s first Premier League title win, and in one of the most iconic moments in the English top-flight, he scored a last-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers. He even overtook Thierry Henry’s record of most goals scored by a foreign player in the Premier League.
5. Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba (Chelsea) is considered one of the best big-game players in Premier League history. After signing for Chelsea in 2004, many people questioned Jose Mourinho’s choice, but Drogba proved them all wrong. He scored crucial goals and helped Chelsea win many trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge. Drogba registered a staggering 159 goal combinations (104 goals & 55 assists) in 254 appearances for the club, winning four Premier League titles and other trophies.
6. Peter Schmeichel
Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United, Aston Villa & Man City) was one of the most crucial members of Manchester United’s legendary squad under Sir Alex Ferguson. Schmeichel won five Premier League titles with the Red Devils, along with three FA Cup and one UEFA Champions League trophy
7. Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona (Leeds & Manchester United) is one of the most iconic players to have played in the Premier League, renowned for his goalscoring abilities and the impact he had on the English game. After joining Manchester United from Leeds United for just £1.6 million, he became a club legend for the Red Devils. Cantona entertained the Premier League with his skill and flamboyant style, winning four Premier League titles with Manchester United.
8. Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal) is one of the greatest players ever to have played for Arsenal. He scored many memorable goals throughout his career, including an iconic one against Newcastle United that is still considered one of the best in Premier League history. The Dutchman won three Premier League titles with the Gunners and registered 181 goals and assists in 315 Premier League games. His record of 94 assists is the fifth-highest in the Premier League.
9. Gianfranco Zola
Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea) is in contention with Frank Lampard for the title of Chelsea’s best-ever player. He won two FA Cup titles with the Blues and was involved in 101 goals (59 goals, 42 assists) in 230 Premier League appearances. Zola was one of the fastest wingers of his generation, terrorising defenders with his many tricks and skills.
10. Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira (Arsenal & Man City) is one of the best central defensive midfielders to have played in the Premier League. The Frenchman is an Arsenal legend, winning numerous trophies with the Gunners and captaining them between 2002-2005. He played a crucial role in Arsenal’s invincible season in 2003-04, and later went on to play for Manchester City.