Match of the Day Top 10: Premier League midfielders


By Sonny CohenBBC Sport

The Match of the Day Top 10 boys are back, and to get the new season started Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards will be debating the Premier League’s best ever midfielders.

From modern superstars to former greats, the list contains midfielders with all kinds of quality and is sure to excite all football fans.

Here are their picks. See what you think, and then pick the order you would rank them in.

Kevin de Bruyne

Clubs: Chelsea (2011-14), Man City (2015-present)

Premier League record: 226 appearances, 60 goals, 95 assists

Signed by Manchester City in 2015 for a then club record fee of £55m. Kevin de Bruyne has enjoyed a stellar return to the Premier League and is currently ranked fifth in Premier League assists. He is also a back-to-back PFA Player’s Player of the Year award winner (2019-20 and 2020-21) – just the third player in history to achieve this feat after Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo. The 2019-20 campaign in particular stood out as De Bruyne matched Henry’s Premier League assist record of 20 and created the most chances from open play since records began (104).

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas

Clubs: Arsenal (2003-2011), Chelsea (2014-19)

Premier League record: 350 appearances, 50 goals, 111 assists

Fabregas joined Arsenal from Barcelona as a 16-year-old in 2003 and quickly developed into one of the world’s best midfielders. Aged just 16 years and 177 days, he became the club’s youngest first-team player when he made his debut in a League Cup tie against Rotherham, and broke another record later in December when he became the Gunners’ youngest-ever goalscorer with his strike against Wolves. He was part of the Arsenal side that won the FA Cup in 2004/05.

He would return to the Premier League with Chelsea from boyhood club Barcelona, finally adding that illusive Premier League title to his CV in 2014. He won another in the 2016/17 season, as well as adding another FA Cup to the trophy cabinet.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Clubs: Liverpool (1998-2015)

Premier League record: 504 appearances, 120 goals, 92 assists

Steven Gerrard’s capacity to drag his teammates along with him to achieve great things is perhaps best evidenced by his incredible record of having scored in the finals of the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. His last-minute equaliser against West Ham United in the FA Cup final perhaps being the defining moment of an iconic career. Gerrard’s momentous talent was acknowledged by his peers when he won PFA Young Player of the Year in 2000-01 and PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2005-06.

Ngolo Kante

N'Golo Kante holding the Premier League trophy

Clubs: Leicester (2015-16), Chelsea (2016-present)

Premier League record: 222 appearances, 12 goals, 16 assists

Unknown in England before his arrival at Leicester in 2015 (signed from Caen for £5.6m), Kante announced himself in style by playing a key role in the Foxes’ legendary title-winning campaign that year. His performances resulted in a move to Chelsea the following season (£32m) where he subsequently repeated the trick, earning the PFA Player of the Year award along the way.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane

Clubs: Nottingham Forest (1990-93), Man Utd (1993-2005)

Premier League record: 366 appearances, 39 goals, 33 assists

Keane began his career in England with Nottingham Forest before joining Man Utd for a then record fee of £3.75m in the summer of 1993. Labelled the best player he ever worked with by Sir Alex Ferguson, few sportsmen have led from the front the way Keane did and it was his unwavering desire to succeed that underpinned the most successful spell in United’s history. This culminated in the club’s famous 1998-99 treble-winning season.

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard

Clubs: West Ham (1995-2001); Chelsea (2001-2014); Man City (2014-15)

Premier League record: 609 appearances, 177 goals, 102 assists

Frank Lampard’s name will forever be front of mind during any conversation around goalscoring midfielders. He was signed by Chelsea from West Ham for £11m and quickly improved his all-around game. His goalscoring prowess saw him become Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer (211) and fifth all time in the Premier League. Under manager Jose Mourinho, Lampard won back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, and was labelled ‘the best in the world’ by his manager. But, arguably, his greatest season came in 2009-10 when he helped Chelsea to a special league and cup double with a haul of 22 league goals – a personal best.

Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes in action for Manchester United

Clubs: Man Utd (1994-2013)

Premier League record: 499 appearances, 107 goals, 55 assists

Local lad Paul Scholes was part of Manchester United’s iconic class of ’92 alongside David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville. A host of golden seasons at Old Trafford include 1995-96’s double-winning campaign, in which he covered admirably during Eric Cantona’s suspension, finishing second behind the Frenchman in the scoring charts with 14 goals. He was a cornerstone of 1999’s treble winners, although suspension ruled him out of the Champions League final, and, in United’s Premier League success in 2003, his 20-goal haul across all competitions (14 in the league) was vital. The most decorated player on this list with 11 league titles and two Champions League winners medals to his name.

David Silva

David Silva

Clubs: Man City (2010-2020)

Premier League record: 309 appearances, 60 goals, 93 assists

Signed by Roberto Mancini from Valencia in 2010 for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £30m, David Silva was a permanent fixture in the Manchester City team for 10 years playing more than 400 games across all competitions for the Blues. El Mago (the magician) is one of the most decorated players in the club’s history having won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five EFL Cups, and two Community Shields with the club. He is in the top 10 provider of assists in the Premier League of all time.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure holds the Premier League trophy aloft

Clubs: Man City (2010-18)

Premier League record: 230 appearances, 62 goals, 32 assists

Arriving at City from Barcelona in 2010 for a fee of £24m, Yaya Toure scored a series of important goals in the 2010-2011 season. Winning goals in the FA Cup semi-final – against Manchester United – and the final – against Stoke City – culminated in the end of a 35-year-wait for Manchester City for a major trophy and followed this up in 2011-12 by playing a key role in City ending their 44-year league title drought.

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira holds Arsenal's golden Premier League trophy

Clubs: Arsenal (1996-2011), Man City (2009-11)

Premier League record: 307 appearances, 31 goals, 34 assists

Signed by Arsenal in 1996 for just £3.6m, Patrick Vieira was somewhat of an unknown. At 6ft4 the Frenchman was a rare blend of graft and craft that made the rigours of the Premier League a non issue. His qualities were clear as he played a vital role in the Gunners’ two doubles in 1997-98 and 2001-02. The crowning glory of his Premier League career came when he captained Arsenal to the Premier League’s only unbeaten season and another Premier League title in 2003-04. A career full of great memories in red and white ended when his final act as an Arsenal player was to score the final penalty in their 2004-05 FA Cup win over Manchester United.

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