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Premier League Clubs' Best Players of the Decade

Premier League Clubs' Best Players of the Decade

Monday, 30 December, 2019 - 08:30
Jamie Vardy of Leicester City, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel, Southampton’s Rickie Lambert and Luis Suarez of Liverpool. Composite: BPI/Shutterstock; PA Images; Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Our writers name the outstanding performer during the past 10 years for each of the current 20 top-flight sides

Arsenal – Aaron Ramsey

It took the midfielder over a year to recover from the injury he suffered in a tackle from Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in February 2010 but Arsène Wenger’s patience with the Welshman was ultimately rewarded with more than 350 games and 65 goals, two of which were winners in FA Cup finals – against Hull in 2014 and Chelsea in 2017. The way Ramsey was allowed to leave last summer rankles among Arsenal fans but he eclipses Laurent Koscielny as the club’s best performer of the decade. Paul Chronnell

Aston Villa – Brad Friedel

The goalkeeper was likened to Superman by Gordon Strachan after a superlative performance for Blackburn and he continued to avoid kryptonite after moving to Villa in 2008. Friedel proved to be a rock-like presence behind Martin O’Neill’s defense and while he only played one year for Villa this decade – he joined Tottenham in June 2011 – his service was immense. In a game at Manchester United in February 2011, Friedel also became the club’s oldest player at the age of 39 years and 259 days. Ian Malin

Bournemouth – Steve Cook

Perhaps the best £170,000 Bournemouth have ever spent. The defender has racked up more than 300 appearances since turning a loan deal from Brighton into a permanent move seven years ago, when the club were 10th in League One. Cook, who cut his teeth in non-league football, has been the epitome of consistency and a cornerstone of Bournemouth’s extraordinary rise to the Premier League under Eddie Howe. Ben Fisher

Brighton & Hove Albion – Lewis Dunk

A difficult decision but, in the end, Dunk gets the nods over Bruno. As the song says, the 28-year-old defender has been with Brighton from Withdean to Wembley having been born in the town, attended secondary school there and spent his youth career at the club, signing his first professional contract with Brighton in 2010. Dunk, named captain by current manager Graham Potter, is fearless, great in the air and even chips in with a few goals – in 2014-15 he was Brighton’s top scorer. Stephanie Fincham

Burnley – Ashley Barnes

Barnes has come to epitomize Burnley in his seven seasons at Turf Moor. The 30-year-old striker has played in all five Premier League campaigns under Sean Dyche, growing in stature and scoring more often with each one. The former west country journeyman is now an established top-flight performer and while his style might not be the prettiest, he, like the club itself, is persistent, effective and awkward to play against. Paul Wilson

Chelsea – Eden Hazard

Forget about the last decade, the Belgian is one of the greatest players ever seen at Stamford Bridge. His creative genius brought him plenty of individual accolades during his seven years in England and he proved an inspirational figure during Chelsea’s title triumphs of 2015 and 2017, under José Mourinho and Antonio Conte respectively. No doubt, Premier League defenders were relieved when Hazard left last summer to join Real Madrid. Jacob Steinberg

Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha

Only Julian Speroni even comes close to matching the impact of the player who grew up a stone’s throw from Selhurst Park. Having made his debut for Palace in March 2010, Zaha has racked up almost 300 appearances for the club – having briefly flown the nest to Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing there – and without him the south Londoners would never have played a record seven straight top-flight campaigns. Ed Aarons

Everton – Seamus Coleman

A £60,000 purchase from Sligo Rovers in January 2009 and Everton and Republic of Ireland captain today. A humble, dignified and proud figure who developed into one of the finest full-backs in the Premier League over the course of the decade (Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka have played more matches for Everton than Coleman but were already regulars before his arrival) and he epitomizes the kind of spirit, and signing, the club desperately need to find again. Andy Hunter

Leicester City – Jamie Vardy

From a goalscoring debut against Torquay United to match-winning performances in the Premier League and Champions League, Vardy has done it all with Leicester, mostly with a lovable snarl. The striker could have followed Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté out the door after spearheading the title triumph in 2016 but he stayed and is now leading another charge for glory. Leicester fans love him, England fans miss him, and Premier League defenders will have a party when Vardy retires. Paul Doyle

Liverpool – Luis Suárez

A troubling figure, and not a member of Jürgen Klopp’s golden generation, but no player lit up Liverpool this decade quite like Suárez. There were the moments – the shot against Arsenal, the goal against Newcastle, the goals against Norwich – as well as the relentless work-rate and desire, all of which combined in the 2013-14 season as the Uruguayan led Brendan Rodgers’s men on their thrilling and ultimately doomed title charge. The most talented player in Liverpool’s history? Quite possibly. Sachin Nakrani

Manchester City – David Silva

The Spaniard will depart the Etihad Stadium next summer after a decade of midfield play that has been akin to Picasso in his cubist period: a one-off exhibition of unique artistry. Silva is peerless and has been fundamental to the success City have enjoyed during his time at the club, most notably their four Premier League titles. Now aged 33 it is no surprise Silva’s powers have been on the wane this season and, as a result, so too have City’s fortunes. Jamie Jackson

Manchester United – David de Gea

De Gea was United’s No 1 goalkeeper in their 2012-2013 title-winning campaign – the second and final occasion the club were crowned champions this decade – and in the seven years since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club the Spaniard has been the sole world-class presence at Old Trafford. In the fog of disarray that has so often occurred in front of him, De Gea has proven to be - the odd dip in form aside - a beacon of excellence. JJ

Newcastle United – Cheick Tioté

For a time Tioté – who tragically died at the age of 30 following a cardiac arrest suffered while training with Beijing Enterprises – was the most uncompromising holding midfielder in England. The Ivorian began his seven-year stint on Tyneside in 2010 and will always be remembered for his stunning 25-yard equalizing volley in the 4-4 draw with Arsenal in February 2011. His midfield partnership with Yohan Cabaye was also integral to Newcastle’s fifth-place finish in 2011-12. Louise Taylor

Norwich City – Wesley Hoolahan

Known to Norwich fans as ‘Wessi’, Hoolahan was an integral part of three promotions and four Premier League seasons. More importantly, he set the tone. Norwich have been up and down a lot during the past 10 years but they have settled on a style of play that values short passing, technique, and brains above brawn. The diminutive Irishman embodied all of those qualities during his time at Carrow Road and earned a testimonial, too. Paul MacInnes

Sheffield United – Billy Sharp

Sharp technically started the decade as a United player, albeit transfer listed and on loan at Doncaster as his second spell at the club fizzled out. He left. Again. He came back. Again. He made his third debut for the club in the 4-0 defeat at Gillingham with which United opened the 2015-16 League One season and two promotions and 90 goals later (for a club total of over 100), the 33-year-old striker is a bona fide Blades legend. John Ashdown

Southampton – Rickie Lambert

After five unforgettable years and 117 goals, Lambert left Southampton a hero. He initially joined the club in League One as a serial goalscorer with Bristol Rovers and fired them to the Championship and the Premier League, form which earned the striker a call-up to the England squad at the age of 31 and, in 2014, a move to boyhood club Liverpool, where things did not work out. Lambert retired two years ago after spells at West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City. Ben Fisher

Tottenham Hotspur – Harry Kane

Kane brings the romance and the connection with the Tottenham fanbase; he brings a work ethic that demands more of himself and those around him every day and, above all, he brings goals – over 170 of them since his debut for Spurs in August 2011, following a loan spell at Leyton Orient. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were joys to watch for Spurs at the start of the decade but make no mistake – Kane is the symbol of the club. David Hytner

Watford – Troy Deeney

This has unquestionably been the Deeney decade. The forward has been at Watford for all but the first six months of it, and though initially underwhelming – his first season saw 17 league starts and just two goals – he has grown enormously as a player and as a person, with the team’s travails during his three-month injury absence this season demonstrating the captain’s continued importance as its spiritual figurehead. Simon Burnton

West Ham United – Dimitri Payet

It ended in tears but there was nothing quite like it when Payet was in the mood. Signed for £10m from Marseille in June 2015, the Frenchman’s flicks, tricks, and free-kicks were the undisputed highlight of West Ham’s final season at Upton Park. His skill was unrivaled and he managed an unforgettable solo goal against Middlesbrough before returning to Marseille in protracted manner in January 2017. JS

Wolverhampton Wanderers – Matt Doherty

No player better embodies Wolves’s rise than the Irishman, who was not even a regular first-team player for Bohemians before joining the club for £80,000 in the summer of 2010. After a couple of loan stints, Doherty has soared to every challenge, progressing from League One through the Championship and into the Premier League and the Europa League, where the 27-year-old is now one of the best wing-backs in the business. PD

(The Guardian)

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