The 10 Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time, Ranked

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The 10 Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time, Ranked

Since the start of the Premier League in 1992, the competition has seen many good to great midfielders come and go. Many of the bigger and well-known clubs have had numerous talents throughout their history.

Picking ten midfielders from 29 years of Premier League football was a tough task, with many greats playing before the re-branding of the English football landscape. Because of that, many players will miss out here.

Before we begin, players like Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Gilberto Silva and N’Golo Kante will all miss out here, not that they weren’t great players, they were, but most of the players named did not spend an equal amount of time or more in the league compared to others, while Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, for instance, is still playing and will more than likely make the list in the near future.

With the being said, here are the top ten midfielders in Premier League history.

The 10 Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time, Ranked:

10. Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea, Manchester City)

Appearances: 188

Goals: 44

Assists: 78

PL Titles Won: 3

The only player to still be gracing his talents in the Premier League, Belgian’s Kevin De Bruyne has proven himself to be one of the greatest passers and creative forces the league has ever seen.

Starting off his career in England with Chelsea at the age of 21, De Bruyne struggled to make an impact under Jose Mourinho and left for Germany in 2014. He joined Manchester City in 2015 and has since become one of the best midfielders in world football.

Winning three Premier League titles along with six domestic cups to his name, De Bruyne was influential in all of those successes.

Being named in the UEFA and Premier League Team of the Year on three different occasions along with picking up the Premier League Player of the Season and PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2019 and 2021.

Currently, in his prime years, De Bruyne still has many years ahead of him, and if he continues on his current trajectory, he will have a strong case in being higher up when one talks about great Premier League midfielders.

9. Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

Appearances: 230

Goals: 62

Assists: 32

PL Titles Won: 3

The closest player resembling a prime Patrick Vieira on this list, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure was the engine in the midfield during City’s recent success in the past decade.

The perfect box-to-box midfielder, Toure was an outstanding midfielder with the strength to hold off opposition players at ease, with a sublime control of the ball and great stamina to move around the pitch.

He was also a very underrated goal scorer, many of his 62 Premier League goals were down to his individual brilliance, scoring screamers every season, he cemented himself as a City legend winning three Premier League titles with the club.

The 2013/14 season proved to be his greatest achievement, contributing to 36 goals in 49 games in all competitions, winning the Premier League and League Cup, along with picking up Manchester City’s Player of the Year, being named in the PFA Team of the Year, ESM Team of the Year and winning African Football of the Year.

8. Claude Makelele (Chelsea)

Appearances: 144

Goals: 2

Assists: 4

PL Titles Won: 2

One of the few players to have a position named after him, ‘the Makelele role’ has become synonymous in England after his arrival in 2003 from Real Madrid.

Becoming one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era, Makelele was the spine of the midfield during Mourinho’s first spell in charge at the club, the Frenchman provided energy and world-class tackling that gave the likes of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Michael Ballack a license to ponder forward.

He went on to win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups during his five years at Stamford Bridge, becoming a legendary figure amongst Blues supporters.

The Frenchman would go on to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2008, spending three years at the club before retiring in 2011 at the age of 38.

7. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal, Chelsea)

Appearances: 350

Goals: 50

Assists: 111

PL Titles Won: 2

Starting out as a product of the Barcelona youth academy. Fabregas was signed by Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2003 where he made his professional debut against Rotherham United, becoming the club’s youngest ever player to start a game.

A magician on the ball, Fabregas spent eight semi-successful years in North London, making 212 league appearances, scoring 35 goals and assisting 75 from 2003 to 2011. He would later join Barcelona before leaving in 2014 for Chelsea.

Joining Chelsea was a controversial decision, but warranted when you look at how successful he was in West London. In his first season under Jose Mourinho, he provided 24 assists and 5 goals in all competitions to secure his first Premier League title and a League Cup.

He went on to secure another Premier League title along with another FA Cup before departing for Monaco in 2019.

Easily one of the best passers to ever grace the Premier League, he is currently second for most assists with 111, only behind Ryan Giggs with 162. The two-time European Champion and World Cup winner is now 34 and in the highlight of his career.

6. David Silva (Manchester City)

Appearances: 309

Goals: 60

Assists: 93

PL Titles Won: 4

A Manchester City legend, David Silva’s decade long stint in the Premier League proved to be a massive success. Contributing to 153 goals in 309 games.

Leaving Valencia in 2010, Silva was pivotal in ending Manchester City’s 44-year wait for a league title back in 2012, scoring 8 with 17 assists on route to pipping rivals Manchester United to the title on the final day in dramatic fashion.

He would go on to win another three league titles from 2014 to 2019, along with five League Cups and 2 FA Cups.

Skilful on the ball, and an exquisite passer with a knack for a goal, the little Spaniard will be remembered as one of the best and most-gifted midfielders in Premier League history.

5. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Appearances: 504

Goals: 120

Assists: 92

PL Titles Won: 0

When you think of complete midfielders in Premier League history, you think of Steven Gerrard. He could play box-to-box, as a defensive midfielder or in behind the striker (as proven by his partnership with Fernando Torres), while his aggression and leadership were inspiring to his teammates.

Making his debut in 1998 against Blackburn Rovers, it didn’t take long for Gerrard to become a starter in an average Liverpool side at the time. In 2001 he was the main factor in Liverpool winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup (Europa League), before being awarded the captaincy at the age of 23gr

Individually he was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year eight times (the most of any player in the league’s history), along with being named in the UEFA Team of the Year on three consecutive occasions.

A world-class player and captain, Gerrard was known for turning up when it mattered most, inspiring his side to win the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006.

Unfortunately, he will be forever synonymous with not winning the Premier League in his 17-years at the club. His infamous slip against Chelsea cost his club what would have been their first and only Premier League title during the 2013/14 season, ultimately finishing second behind eventual champions Manchester City.

4. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)

Appearances: 499

Goals: 107

Assists: 55

PL Titles Won: 11

One of England’s most talented midfielders, Paul Scholes was one of many focal points during Sir Alex Ferguson’s incredible career as Manchester United manager.

Making 499 league appearances for United and scoring 107 goals and notching up 55 assists. Scholes won everything with the club. Picking up 20 major trophies, with 11 of those being Premier League titles.

Possessing a rocket of a shot and being able to pinpoint a pass from anywhere, Scholes has proven himself as a world-class player in his era and gained countless admirers along the way.

While his tackling was questionable, his pure aggression and work rate overshadowed his deficiencies for the most part. His control on the ball was also a sight to behold. A misplaced Scholes pass would be a rarity.

Even at the age of 37, he contributed to United winning their 20th League title, coming out of retirement to give Ferguson one last hurrah.

3. Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest, Manchester United)

Appearances: 366

Goals: 39

Assists: 33

PL Titles Won: 7

The hot-headed Irishman was the driving force behind Manchester United’s success and domestic dominance in the 1990s. Winning seven league titles along with a treble-winning season in 1999 after signing from Nottingham Forest in 1993.

Keane was the catalyst for driving United through many of their toughest battles on the pitch. Making 366 league appearances, scoring 39 goals and assisting 33 from 1993 to 2005, the battle-hardened Keane was a monster to play against.

It was his leadership qualities and overall intimidation factor that proved to be his best attributes.

2. Patrick Vieira (Arsenal, Manchester City)

Appearances: 307

Goals: 31

Assists: 34

PL Titles Won: 3

One of the greatest ever defensive midfielders of his era, French midfielder Patrick Vieira proved to be one of Arsene Wenger’s most important signings during his 20-year stint in London.

Acting as the backbone behind Arsenal’s success in the late 1990s to early 2000s, being the destroyer in the middle of the pitch, winning three Premier League titles, captaining the side to an Invincible season before departing for Juventus in 2005.

He returned to England in 2010 for a season with newly rich Manchester City before retiring as a player.

Best known for his battles with Roy Keane, Vieira was a no-nonsense player at the heart of Arsenal’s success. The best thing one can say about Vieria is that since his departure 16 years ago, Arsenal have yet to replace him.

1. Frank Lampard (West Ham United, Chelsea, Manchester City)

Appearances: 609

Goals: 177

Assists: 102

PL Titles Won: 3

Starting off his career as a West Ham United player, Lampard spent five years with the Hammers before making a career-defining move to Stamford Bridge in 2001 where he cemented himself as the greatest player in Chelsea’s history and the greatest midfielder the Premier League has ever seen.

Spending 13 years at Stamford Bridge, totalling 609 Premier League appearances, becoming Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals accompanied with 150 assists.

He sits third for most Premier League appearances with 609, fifth for most goals with 177 (the only midfielder on the list) and fourth on the assist chart with 102.

During his trophy-laden career, Lampard won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, a Europa League and a Champion League triumph in 2012.

He had a brief stint with Manchester City during the 2014/2015 season before departing for the MLS. Ultimately his legacy will always be as a Chelsea and Premier League legend.

The 10 Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time, Ranked

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The 10 Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time, Ranked

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