Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time
Premier League games are often intense and require a lot of physicality, both in defense and offense, and the players who connect these two parts of the game are usually midfielders. EPL matches are often won by the battle in the middle of the park between midfielders and their opponents, so having a great midfielder has always been an important factor for any team that wanted to achieve success.
Good midfielders are basically the generals of the game, either acting as a shield in front of the defense or masterminding the attack by creating chances. Some may specialize in either defensive or attacking work more but you’ll find out that the best midfielders in Premier League ever usually excel at both. so with all of these in mind, let's find out wh are the best midfielders in EPL history?!
Best Midfielders in Premier League Ever
We will be starting our list of best midfielders in Premier League ever with a World Cup winner, so you could only imagine the quality of the players that come after him, but let’s see who are these players:
10. N’golo Kante
We start our list of best Premier League midfielders ever with N’golo Kante who is without a doubt the most hard-working player amongst the best midfielders in EPL history. He is also the only player to win 2 back to back Premier League titles with 2 different teams.
As a footballer the lovable Kante was a late bloomer because he only started his professional career at age 21 in the lower leagues of France where he played for Caen until 2015. Then a struggling Leicester City that had just finished the league in the 17th place came for his signature and Kante accepted. A transfer that would later prove to be the signing of the season.
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At Leicester Kante soon showed his worth as he became a stopper in the least aggressive way possible. He used speed to intercept passes quicker rather than using force to regain the ball. With Mahrez’ creativity and Vardy’s goal-scoring abilities, the balls that Kante recovered had only to find them and after that a goal was guaranteed. Leicester achieved the impossible feat of winning the Premier League in 2015-16 season, largely thanks to Kante’s brilliance.
He then went on to join Chelsea in the following season, where he won yet another Premier League by playing a similar role in Antonio Conte’s EPL winning Chelsea side. This time he was awarded with Premier League Player of the season award. The crowning achievement of his career though came at the 2018 World Cup where he becames one of the main reasons that France won the competition. He is currently one of the best midfielders playing today and he will surely be remembered as one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time in the years to come.
9. Kevin de Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne has just picked up the best midfielder in Europe award and he is in the best form of his career but as it stands he is one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time despite only playing in 158 EPL matches, far less than any other player on this list.
The Belgian’s journey in the Premier League didn’t start at City though, as he first moved to Chelsea in 2013, but after only making 3 appearances for the club in his first 6 months, he moved to Wolfsburg. Where he showed his qualities again and matured quite a bit until a move to Manchester City brought him back to the Premier League in 2015.
His first season in City was good as he scored 7 and assisted 9 goals in 25 matches but after the arrival of Pep Guardiola he became a more prominent figure for the Blues. Guardiola basically built the team around him and De Bruyne became the mastermind in the attack. With City, De Bruyne won the Premier League twice and on both occasions, De Bruye played a huge part, City even managed to rack up 100 points in 2017-18 an be called the Centurions.
De Bruyne’s quick thinking along with his ability to create chances from literally anywhere in the final third, make him one of the best players of the current generation. He has assisted 67 times in 158 appearances in the EPL. In the 2019-20 season he matched the record set by Henry in 2002-03 season by making 20 assists and by his own account he plans to break that record in the 2020-21 season. Whether he does or not remains to be seen but what he has done in his career so far surely earns him a place among the best EPL midfielders ever.
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8. David Silva
David Silva is the quintessential Spanish midfielder. He has great technique, good vision and he can also score goals. he is that player that pulls the strings in the midfield and he has done so for years both in Manchester City and the Spain national team. But he started his footballing journey in Valencia, where he played for the Bats for 6 years before joining Manchester City in 2010.
Silva who was already a winner with his national team, having won the 2008 Euro, became one of the pieces that transformed City into title contenders. A year after his arrival City won the league after 44 years, with Silva being the top assist provider that season. He then proceeded to win 3 more Premier League titles, as well as 5 League Cups and 2 FA Cups with Manchester City becoming one of the most decorated player on our list of best midfielders in Premier League ever.
Silva also won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro with the Spain national team. The midfield trio of him alongside Xavi and Iniesta led Spain to 3 consecutive international tournament victories. He has scored 35 goals and made 29 assists in 125 appearances for his country and has become one of the most successful Spanish internationals ever.
In Premier League though his 60 goals and 93 assists has helped Man City achieve several trophies and for that he has become one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time. After a decade with City, he has recently moved on to Real Sociedad but His influence on City and the EPL were summed up perfectly as Manchester City announced last year that they are planning to immortalize Silva by putting his statue outside the Etihad Stadium. El Mago has truly become a living legend.
7. Cesc Fabregas
In his autobiography, My Life in Red and White, Arsene Wenger has described Fabregas as “Vision personified” and that description sums up Fabregas’ style of playing perfectly. The Spanish playmaker was so talented that Arsene Wenger himself went to Spain and convinced his parents to let him join Arsenal in 2003 at the age of 16. It took only one year for him to be fully integrated into Arsenal side and he was soon on his way to become one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
Fabregas spent 7 seasons at Arsenal and assisted 70 goals in the EPL as well as scoring 35 goals. He then went back to his childhood club Barcelona in the summer of 2011 but the move didn’t go as well as he had hoped and with only a La Liga and a Copa Del Rey title, he came back to the Premier League. After Arsenal refused to sign him, as the club had a buy-back clause in Fabregas’ contract, he went and joined their rivals Chelsea.
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Fabregas helped Chelsea immensely in his first season at the club by assisting 18 goals and helping them become champions. He did the same again 2 years later under Antonio Conte where they won the title again. But the arrival of Sarri as the new coach in 2018-19 season saw his game time reduced and he ended up leaving the club to go to Monaco after assisting 41 times and scoring 15 goals in his 138 EPL appearances for Chelsea.
Cesc Fabregas has the 2nd most assists in the history of Premier League for Arsenal and Chelsea with 111 assists, only behind Ryan Giggs’ 167, and he has won the competition twice. He was an important part of Spain’s Golden Generation that won 2 Euros and the 2010 World Cup and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest midfielders in English Premier League as well as one of the greatest assist providers of the modern game.
6. Yaya Toure
You would be hard pressed in finding a more complete midfielder than Yaya Toure, as the Ivorian was involved in everything that happened on the pitch. He was a general at Manchester City and just like David Silva he arrived in 2010 to help Man City become title contenders.
But his road to get to the Blues was quite long as he played for many clubs like Monaco and more importantly Barcelona, where he won an unprecedented 6 trophies in 2008-09 season under manager Pep Guardiola. But his time at City was where he really reached his peak. He won 3 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups and 1 FA Cup with City.
Toure alongside Kompany, Silva and Aguero made the spine of a City team that would dominate the league. He was the player that gelled everything together, as he had a bit of everything, defensive qualities like Kompany, creativity like Silva and an eye for goal like Aguero. His best season at City was the 2013-14 season where he scored an incredible 20 goals in the league and assisted 9 more which helped City win the league.
With 4 African Footballer of the year award to his name and also the fact that he captained Ivory Coast to Africa Cup of Nations victory in 2015, Toure has become a legend in his home country as well. The Premier League has seen few players of his caliber over the years and he is certainly one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
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5. Paul Scholes
The first Manchester United player on our list of best Premier League midfielders ever is Paul Scholes. there are not many trophies that Scholes failed to win at the club level. Unlike the players that came before him on this list, he was not a foreign player who came to the EPL at the peak of his career but rather he had to climb the development ladder of English football to reach to the top.
Scholesy became a graduate of Manchester United’s famous Class of 92 youth team, where he alongside players like Beckham, Neville and Butt broke into the first team of Manchester United and achieved great success under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson. Scholes played whole his career at United and became the most decorated English player in the Premier League by winning 11 Premier League titles, he also won 3 FA Cups and 2 Champions League titles with United.
Scholes was a quintessential English midfielder, able to do everything on the pitch, but since he was more attack-minded, he was usually partnered with more defensive players like Keane and later Darren Fletcher or Carrick. He was once described by Xavi as one of the best central midfielders he had seen in the past 2 decades.
Paul Scholes appeared in 499 Premier League matches and by scoring 107 goals and assisting 55 more and achieving 11 EPL winner’s medal, he has raised the standards of being one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
4. Frank Lampard
Super Frankie is possibly one of the best central midfielders of the last 25 years. His hunger for success and his ability to score goals as well as creating them, made him one of the most dangerous players of his generation. Although at Chelsea he was usually used in a more attacking role, he could also play deeper in more defensive roles if it was required of him, which boasts of his versatility as a player.
He is a club icon at Chelsea where he is managing right now, but his playing days didn’t start there as he was a West Ham United player before that. His uncle, Harry Redknapp, who was at the time the manager of West Ham gave him his debut and soon he became a regular at West Ham. 6 seasons and 148 games later, he had become one of the established young players in England and he decided to move to a bigger club, Chelsea.
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After Abramovic took over Chelsea, he decided to invest heavily in the club by buying an insane amount of players every year but Lampard and John Terry were the players that were constantly there, even if managers changed or the whole team around them changed. His consistency in producing match-winning performances slowly became a culture at the club which led Chelsea to many trophies and it’s the reason he is considered to be one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
In 609 EPL appearances, Lampard has scored 177 goals as well as assisting 102 times and despite being a midfielder he is one of the best goal-scorers in the Premier League history. He has won 4 FA Cups, 3 Premier League titles, 1 Europa League and a Champions League trophy with Chelsea and has become a legend of the club as well as one of the greatest English players of all time and because of all this he is placed 4th on our list among the best midfielders in Premier League ever.
3. Roy Keane
Among all these skillful, visionary and world class players, Roy Keane shines because he was not like all these players instead he was a typical central midfielder who did simple things but here is the catch: he knew every one of those simple things to perfection. He knew when to pass, defend, make a run or a tackle and more importantly, as a captain, he knew how to rally his team to victory. Basically he was Sir Alex' invisible hand on the pitch. But his career in the EPL did not start at Manchester.
After coming from Ireland, Keane established himself as a promising young player at Nottingham Forest, where he caught the eye of teams like Arsenal and Manchester and he ended up joining the Red Devils. Where he became a pillar of Sir Alex’ teams in the years that followed. Keane’s defensive qualities, intensity, physicality and at times even viciousness, helped United to be a team that was feared by others. A mentality that was a key factor in a lot of their success.
Keane made 366 EPL appearances, most of which were at Manchester United, and he scored 39 goals as well as assisting 33 more. With United he won an incredible 7 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups and a Champions League, which came at the end of the famous 98-99 Treble winning season. His battles in the midfield with the likes of Viera and Haaland will forever be remembered by EPL fans, as will his brilliance in leading United, which has made him one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
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2. Steven Gerrard
To be the greatest Liverpool player of all time is no small a task, as the Reds are the most successful team in England, but Steven Gerrard has become so in his 17 years stay at Liverpool. Despite playing in a period of Liverpool that did not bear any domestic success, Gerrard helped his team reach 3 European finals, 2 of which they won largely thanks to him. And he did all that by rising through the ranks from Liverpool’s own youth system
The Englishman was a powerhouse in the midfield, physically strong and tactically intelligent to read opposition’s game. By possessing a great striking ability, he was able to score from seemingly impossible distances, a feat he did in 3 Cup finals. His qualities and versatility as a midfielder has led to praise from the likes of Zidane and Pele, who both called him “the world’s best player” in 2009.
But above all he was a great leader who at times seemed to single-handedly drag Liverpool to success. This was apparent in the 2005 Champions League Final where after finishing the first half 3-0, Liverpool draw the match 3-3 and won in the penalties. Gerrard seemed otherworldly in the second hald as he scored a goal and won a penalty. He did the same a year later in the FA Cup final against West Ham, where he scored 2 and made the game 3-3, only for Liverpool to win it in the penalties.
Gerrad made 504 Premier League appearances, scoring 120 goals and assisting 92 more. He won 3 League Cups, 2 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 Champions League with Liverpool. He helped them reach another Champions League final in 2007 which they lost. In 2013-14 season, Gerrard who was 33, had one of the best seasons of his career where he scored 13 and assisted 13 more as he helped Liverpool mount their strongest title challenge in 2 decades. But despite losing out on the trophy by only 3 points, Gerrard will always be remembered as one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time and the greatest English midfielder of all time.
1. Patrick Viera
Patrick Viera was the most important player in the Arsenal side that dominated the league in the early 2000s and after he left his importance became even more prominent as Arsenal were unable to win the league ever again. The World Cup 98 and Euro 2000 winner started his career at Caen where he soon made an impression on AC Milan and was brought to Italy but he failed to break into the first team. At the end of the 95-96 season he went to Arsenal in search of playing time and he soon found it under Arsene Wenger where he stayed for 9 seasons.
Viera was a box-to-box midfielder who had a surprisingly amount of skill, he was also a good stopper and passer of the ball. His partnerships with more defensive players, like Petit and Gilberto, led the Gunners to 3 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cup trophies. Viera was named in the Premier League team of the season 6 times consecutively between 1998 and 2004, which just shows the amount of consistency and dominance that he had in that time as one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
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In the 2003-04 season Arsenal achieved the near impossible feat of going unbeaten throughout a whole season and Viera played the most important role as the captain of the club to keep the squad's momentum going even after winning the league before the season's end, they are now immortalized as the Invincibles.
At the end of his career, Viera came back to play as a bit part player for Manchester City for two seasons, he won an FA Cup there and then retired from football. As one of the best Premier League midfielders ever, Viera's strength, skill, composure and shear amount of power are why he is remembered and feared by many of Premier League's best players, he redefined what it meant to be a midfielder in the Premier League and for this he will be remembered as one of the greatest p layers that English football ever saw.