Premier League Best Attacking Midfielders of All Time
Attacking midfielders are vital to every team.
Having a good attacking midfielder helps you create more chances, hence, the possibility of scoring more goals. Premier League, as the most active and beautiful league in the world, has more chances and more goals than any other league. What does create goals? Chances. Who does create chances? Attacking midfielders. Playing as an attacking midfielder is very difficult. It requires vision, athleticism, accuracy, and ingenuity.
Below, we discuss Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time.
Premier League Best Attacking Midfielders of All Time
Time to check out the list of the Premier League best attacking midfielders ever.
What makes Lampard the best attacking midfielder in Premier League history is not the goals, nor the assists, but rather the road he had to take to get there.
At West Ham, accusations of nepotism were slung at the teenager with his dad, Frank Sr, a member of Harry Redknapp’s coaching team. But the youngster never let it bother him and quickly set about proving people wrong; a trait for which he became synonymous.
Lampard never possessed the natural talent of some of the players on this list, but his steely determination and single-minded nature got him to the very top.
When Roman Abramovich began to throw his millions around at Chelsea, it was the England international who took responsibility and worked hard on his game to ensure neither Claudio Ranieri nor Jose Mourinho needed to go out and buy a star-studded name to replace him.
Lampard became Chelsea's top scorer of all time when he was at Stamford Bridge, before moving to Manchester City, and is fourth on the list of all-time top scorers in the Premier League.
When the Blues cast him aside in 2014, Lampard again set about proving his doubters wrong and his move to Manchester City saw him score a fantastic scissor kick against his former employees. Lampard is an icon for EPL attacking midfielders, and he indeed is, one of the Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time.
Second on our list of the Premier League greatest attacking midfielders of all time is David Silva. When Silva arrived at City after the World Cup in 2010, the transfer went somewhat under the radar. Mesut Ozil was one of the stars in South Africa and duly recognized as the best young midfield player in the world, while the signings of Jerome Boateng and Yaya Toure overshadowed Silva’s arrival.
But the Spaniard was by no means the finished article and has developed into one of the most entertaining and complete midfielders in the Premier League era. His performance in the 6-1 demolition of Manchester United remains one of the most complete by an opposition player at Old Trafford.
Be it out wide, as a traditional #10 or even as a free-roaming advanced midfielder (under Guardiola); Silva has seamlessly transitioned from role to role. Much like Yaya Toure, the 34-year-old has been one of the pivotal figures for Manchester City's unbelievably successful decade in England.
Silva played a huge role in all four of City’s Premier League title wins, while his performances during the 2017/18 when he was concerned about his premature son Mateo showed his incredible mental strength.
A consummate professional, a joy to watch, and a thoroughly fantastic individual, Silva will leave the Etihad as a certified legend next season. There is zero doubt that Silva was and is one of the Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time.
'El Mago' has had a remarkable career in England, and is just eight assists short of reaching the 100-assist mark in the league. He's played 306 games, scoring 39 and assisting 92 goals in the ten years he spent with the Cityzens.
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Another player from the list of Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time, from Manchester City. The giant Ivorian almost ruined his reputation at Manchester City due to his outrageous demands and pedantic strops, but Toure will be remembered fondly by those from the blue half of Manchester.
Yaya Touré plays primarily in the center of the pitch as either a holding midfielder or as a box-to-box midfielder, often switching between offensive and defensive stances throughout matches in the latter role. Touré is a complete and versatile midfielder. He is also capable of playing as a central defender, or in the number 10 role.
His key strengths are his passing range, vision, and physical ability. He is gifted with good technique and ball control, although he also excels defensively at breaking down opposing attacking plays and winning back possession through his powerful tackling ability.
He is known for his pace, stamina, and physical presence, which is often combined with lung-bursting runs from midfield, and he has been referred to as a "human train" and a "colossus" by various pundits.
Touré is frequently pushed forward during the latter part of matches, most notably in the penultimate match of the 2011–12 season against Newcastle United where Touré scored two late goals to win the match and put Manchester City at the top of the league.
Having rejected Arsenal in 2003, Toure wound up at Barcelona where Pep Guardiola occasionally deployed him at center-back.
But it was at the Etihad where the younger brother of Kolo made his name. Able to play in front of the back four before rampaging forward, Toure scored vital goals for City like in the FA Cup semi-final and final in 2011.
In terms of the Premier League, his stats from the 2013/14 season underline why it was a waste he didn’t play further forward more often in his career. The dispute between him and Pep Guardiola destroyed Toure’s career. We can all agree that Yaya Toure is one of the Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time.
Standing at 6'2", Toure was a rare blend of player who could not only impose himself physically on the midfield but also elegantly manoeuvre the ball. His technique and ball control were sublime, allowing him to breeze past opposition players like they weren't there.
His goalscoring ability was nothing short of stunning and he had a catalogue of stellar solo goals at Man City. Toure was an excellent striker of the ball and combined this ability with his surging runs into the opposition half.
Fabregas’ name will always be mentioned when critics and pundits discuss one of the Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time. The Barcelona academy graduate arguably changed the role of central midfielders in England.
At a time when 4-4-2 was the standard formation and box-to-box midfielders were a necessity, Fabregas displayed all the subtleties modern fans have become accustomed to seeing from even the most agricultural central midfielders.
It did not take long for Fàbregas to become one of the most coveted and celebrated young talents in the game with his success at Arsenal.
Functioning mostly as a playmaker and renowned for his passing range, he was described as the general of Arsenal's first team, bringing vision, creativity, and an innate understanding of timing and space to Arsenal's intricate passing game, displaying a maturity that belied his age.
He was the main creative force when he was at Arsenal, as exemplified by his 16 assists in all competitions in the 2006–07 season. Between 2006–07 and 2010–11, Fàbregas created the most chances in the top-division leagues of England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.
With an incredible range of passing and sensational vision, Fabregas quickly established himself in the Arsenal midfield, before taking over the captaincy.
He left in Emirates in 2011 to return to Barcelona, before Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho made a move to bring him back to the Premier League three years later. Before he left for Monaco in January, Blues fans gave the Spaniard an emotional farewell in his final game at Stamford Bridge as a reflection of the impact he had in west London.
At Chelsea, Fàbregas played a similar playmaking role in midfield, using his technique, ball control, vision, and passing ability to dictate the tempo of his team's play, while he was supported by defensive midfielders, to give him more space and time on the ball, due to his lack of pace, stamina, defensive skills, and athleticism.
Upon his return to England, amid much controversy, the Catalan joined Arsenal's city rivals Chelsea. He led the Blues to Premier League glory in his first season at Stamford Bridge and proved to be an incredible acquisition for them.
Fabregas has played 350 Premier League games, scoring 50 goals in that period. His tally of 111 assists in the league is only second to that of record-holder Ryan Giggs, and is one of only four men to reach the 100-assist milestone.
Fabregas is for sure, one of the best attacking midfielders in EPL history.
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If you told someone who did not like football that an asthma sufferer who struggled with double vision and who ‘couldn’t tackle’ would become one of the greatest midfielders in the Premier League era, chances are you would get at best a polite scoff in response.
But Scholes was built of sterner stuff; his calm and often introverted exterior belied the searing aggression with which he played.
Scholes was highly regarded for his technical skills, and renowned for his accurate passing, intelligent movement and powerful shooting from long range.
Though he played mostly as a striker in his youth and early professional career, Scholes matured into a well-rounded, tenacious, and versatile playmaker capable of playing in any midfield position, often alternating between defensive, offensive, wide and playmaking roles, due to his stamina, vision, work-rate, and positional sense.
Scholes was renowned for his late attacking runs and ability to combine with teammates, as well as an excellent capacity to read the game and control the tempo of play, which enabled him to function in a deep-seated creative role as well as in a box-to-box role in the center of the pitch.
He possessed an extraordinary range of passing and frequently initiated dangerous attacking plays after winning back possession.
There has arguably never been a player who can hit a ball so cleanly or with so much accuracy as the former Manchester United midfielder. If opposition defenders backed off him, he could score from 35 yards. But if they closed him down, he had the skills to jink past them and ghost into the box for a tap in.
Once labeled as ‘the greatest midfielder of his generation’ by Zinedine Zidane no less, Salford-born Scholes would probably just muster a shrug of his shoulders in embarrassment at such high praise.
Indeed, he is one of the best attacking midfielders in Premier League history.
Steven Gerrard is a physical manifestation of the word “Passion”. In Gerrard’s embryonic development at Liverpool, the teenager was given a thorough examination at the right-back by Tottenham Hotspur hero David Ginola in 1998.
“I just remember thinking ‘I don’t belong here’,” he told BT Sport some years later. “He was much stronger, he was bigger, he could go left and he could go right. It was a torrid afternoon.”
But Gerrard’s story was only just beginning as the midfielder soon developed into one of the best players in the world under Rafael Benitez.
His link-up play with Fernando Torres during the Spaniard’s spell at Anfield was legendary and cemented his position as one of the best attacking midfielders the Premier League has ever seen.
In truth, Gerrard could do the lot and ended his career in a quarter-back role in front of the back four to showcase his pinpoint passing. Hardly anyone doubts the fact that Gerrard is one of the Premier League best attacking midfielders of all time.
The most breathtaking aspect of all of his achievements is that he maintained an incredible level of performance despite difficult circumstances. The Englishman did not have the luxury of being part of Premier League-winning sides in the past.
However, that didn't stop him from becoming one of the greatest players in the league's history, let alone the greatest midfielders.
Probably, the most unexpected name on the list. Yet, this unexpectedness should not misguide you that Cazorla is an unknown player. On the contrary, he is one of the EPL greatest attacking midfielders ever.
Santi Cazorla has always been a very creative and visionary playmaker. He played in Arsenal and Premier League for 6 years, and in his 6 years, he had a great impact whenever he played for Arsenal.
Cazorla’s problem with injuries affected the number of matches he played for Arsenal, but he left his signature touch whenever he came onto the pitch. A hard-working, versatile, and highly technical two-footed player, Cazorla primarily operates as an attacking midfielder, but can also play as a winger on either side of the pitch, as a central midfielder, or even as a deep-lying playmaker.
In his prime, his main traits were his speed, creativity, shooting accuracy – in particular from outside the box –, capacity to change the rhythm of gameplay in midfield, crossing ability, and passing, which allowed him to set the tempo and dictate play in midfield, or cut inside from the flank, link-up with team-mates, make runs into the penalty area, and either create chances or score goals.
A diminutive player, he also possessed excellent close control, a low center of gravity, and quick feet, as well as his dribbling skills, which allowed him to retain the ball in tight spaces. He is also accurate from set-pieces.
Yes, the same Arteta who is currently Arsenal’s manager! But did you know, he was one of the most creative attacking midfielders and playmakers Premier League had ever witnessed?
While Arteta initially started out playing as a number 10 in the Barcelona youth system, he was later shifted to the position of a "pivot" or defensive midfielder, as he was thought to be a player in the mold of Pep Guardiola; it was only since being moved back to a more attacking midfield role, by Luis Fernandez at PSG, that Arteta truly began to flourish.
He was rated as the sixth most effective player in the Premier League in 2006–07 by the official player rating system the Actim Index. Arteta returned to his original deeper midfield role at Arsenal, in which he excelled as his team's playmaker, due to his technique, skill, vision, passing, awareness, and tactical intelligence.
His total of 12 league assists in the 2006–07 season was third to Cesc Fàbregas and Cristiano Ronaldo. With 100 fouls committed against him in the same season, he was the most fouled player in the Premier League.
Ahead of his first senior international tournament (Euro 2000), Rosický was described by the BBC as "a solid playmaker." Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger described Rosický as having "great technique, skill on the ball, and sharp passing." Upon signing a contract extension in 2010, Wenger called him a "special talent" and said his "vision and touch is remarkable."
Announcing Rosický's 2012 contract extension, Wenger called him "technically top class".
Rosický is also well known for preferring to use his outside of the foot for passing and shooting. David Hytner of The Guardian described him as "the all-round midfielder who brings balance, organization, and urgency to the team."
He often had problems with injuries, hence, keeping him away from being able to play more games for Arsenal. He enjoyed 10 years in Arsenal, having been his only Premier League club, during his career.
Truly, one of the Premier League greatest attacking midfielders of all time!
His close control with the ball, speed, dribbling, crossing, and ability to use both feet suits the position well, which has resulted in former manager Arsène Wenger deploying Nasri in the role during the player's four-year stay at the club. Nasri is often featured centrally for Arsenal in the absence of former club captain Cesc Fàbregas.
There are two types of a playmaker, however: controlling playmakers and incisive playmakers.
The former generally sits deeper and dictates the pattern and tempo of the game, while the latter is more likely to thrive between the lines and play intricate passes through the opposition defense.
Some players can play either role and some who play something of a hybrid of the two. But it's important to remember that the term "playmaker" can refer to two very different functions. Samir Nasri is the latter. A genius playmaker. One of the Premier League best attacking midfielders ever.
Who else can you think of adding to the list of Premier League Best attacking midfielders of all time? Feel free to discuss it in the comment section below.