The Premier League is without a doubt the most competitive and entertaining division in world football. The appeal of the English top flight stretches worldwide and it's easy to see why, with some of the planets best players coming over to our shore to compete for the title. Over the years we've seen some incredible footballers make the move over and the number of foreign players on display in the PL is currently bigger than ever.
It's a bit of a concern as the number of foreign imports to the Premier League limits the opportunities given to young English players, but the influx of these players has upped the level of quality to unprecedented levels. It's tough to judge just who exactly has been the best player outside of the UK to come and take the PL by storm, but recently Alan Shearer claimed that Sergio Aguero is that man after his superb hat-trick against Huddersfield last weekend.
That got us thinking... who would feature in an XI of the best ever foreign players to play in the Premier League? It took a lot of deliberation but we've finally settled on a side that we think would absolutely storm the top flight if they ever got the chance to play together in their prime. Read below to see who's made the cut in our all-time foreign Premier League XI and let us know who'd feature in yours by tweeting us @FootyAccums!
Between the sticks
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
Clubs: Manchester United, Aston Villa, Manchester City
Premier League Stats: 310 Appearances, 1 Goal, 128 Clean Sheets, 5x Winner (1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97 & 1998/99)
Every position in our team was VERY difficult to select and it was no different in goal, with two candidates thrashing it out for the #1 jersey. Petr Cech and Peter Schmeichel were the two leading men and we've opted for the latter to take that position. Cech has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the competitions history but Schmeichel's achievements in England simply cannot be ignored. The Great Dane was one of the key components of a Manchester United side that cleared up both domestically and continentally during the 90's, winning 5 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, the Champions League and of course that incredible treble in the 1998/99 season. He set a new precedent for goalkeepers in the PL and his ability to lead the Red Devils from the back made him a huge favourite of Sir Alex Ferguson's - a world class goalkeeper.
Premier League Stats: 261 Appearances, 22 Goals, 86 Clean Sheets, 3x Winner (2009/10, 2014/15 & 2016/17)
Chelsea have spent some mega money on some stars over the years, but the signing of Branislav Ivanovic was one that went slightly under the radar. Arriving for a modest £8m from Lokomotiv Moscow, his move wasn't greeted with the delight which some Blues signings were but he turned out to be a truly inspired purchase. He didn't make a single PL appearance in the 2007/08 season under then boss Avram Grant but he went on to really establish himself the following campaign. He was originally a centre half, but Luiz Felipe Scolari moved him to right back were he became one of European footballs most dominant full-backs. The Serbians no-nonsense approach to the game which saw him bulldoze through opponents made him a nightmare for opposition defenders and he also popped up with the odd important goal. He formed an incredibly strong backline alongside Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and Ashley Cole which resulted in him winning 3 PL titles, 4 FA Cups, the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League.
Centre Back: Ricardo Carvalho
Premier League Stats: 135 Appearances, 7 Goals, 63 Clean Sheets, 3x Winner (2004/05, 2005/06, 2009/10)
One of the first signings of the Jose Mourinho era at Stamford Bridge, Ricardo Carvalho became a mainstay of the Chelsea backline for 6 years and in turn established himself as one of the best defenders in PL history. He played a huge role in Chelsea conceding just 15 goals on their way to winning the 2004/05 PL title in his debut campaign - they also lost one single league game that season. No side has ever come close to beating that (15 goals) and it will take some time for that record to be beaten. When Carvalho arrived at Stamford Bridge he didn't look like a traditional centre-half for the English game, very different in stature to the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. The former Portugal internationals game was built on positioning and intelligence, forming the perfect partner in the heart of defence for skipper John Terry which led to domestic dominance for the Blues.
Centre Back: Nemanja Vidic
Club: Manchester United
Premier League Stats: 211 Appearances, 15 Goals, 95 Clean Sheets, 5x Winner (2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11 & 2012/13)
This selection was a real no brainer, with former Manchester United man Nemanja Vidic one of the greatest defenders the Premier League's ever seen. Similar to Ivanovic, he arrived in England for £7m and was virtually unknown. He forged a big reputation during his time in Russia with Spartak Moscow but no United supporter would've expected him to enjoy the success that he did. In 8 years in Manchester he won the Premier League an incredible 5 times, with his performances in the heart of the Red Devil's backline along side Rio Ferdinand earning him the captains armband. He's without a doubt one of Sir Alex Ferguson's best ever signings for United and they've never really replaced him since he left for Inter Milan back in 2014 - proving just how good a player he was.
Left Back: Patrice Evra
Clubs: Manchester United & West Ham
Premier League Stats: 278 Appearances, 7 Goals, 98 Clean Sheets, 5x Winner (2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11 & 2012/13)
The final member of our backline is another Manchester United man, in Patrice Evra. The Frenchmen joined the Red Devils alongside Nemanja Vidic in the winter of 2006 after a successful spell with Monaco, but like his teammate, no United supporter expected him to succeed like he did. Not since the great Denis Irwin have Manchester United had a reliable, consistent left-back but in Evra they certainly solved that problem. He added pace, creativity, energy and defensively solidity to the United left during his 9 year spell where he became a firm fans favourite. Like Vidic, United are still searching for Evra's long-term replacement at Old Trafford and it doesn't come as a surprise when you see the success the he enjoyed there, winning the League Cup (x4) along with the Champions League during his stint in the North West. He returned to the PL at the end of last season for a short spell with West Ham, making just 5 appearances and he's definitely down as one of the best full backs to play in England.
Premier League Stats: 196 Appearances, 84 Goals, 34 Assists, 3x Winner (2006/07, 2007/08 & 2008/09)
It will come as no surprise to you all to see this man feature on the right side of midfield in our all-time foreign Premier League XI. Cristiano Ronaldo's transformation from a tricky winger into one of the deadliest attacking players the game has ever seen is truly incredible and it's at Manchester United where his development really began. Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to Old Trafford at the age of 18 and threw him into the side straight away - he saw his talent early on but he never would've imagined the success he'd go on to enjoy. In 6 years at Old Trafford he won 3 successive Premier League titles (something no other side has done) along with lifting the Champions League title in 2007/08. His performances in that season saw him win the Ballon d'Or and seal a then world record move to Real Madrid for £80m. His time in England saw him reach outrageous heights but it's a shame he left before he hit his peak, if he stayed at Old Trafford the consequences could've been truly frightening for the rest of the division - an incredible player and an icon of Manchester United's dominance during the late 00's.
Central Midfield: David Silva
Club: Manchester City
Premier League Stats: 251 Appearances, 49 Goals, 75 Assists, 3x Winner (2011/12, 2013/14 & 2017/18)
The first member in our XI to still be currently playing in the Premier League is David Silva. When he made the move to Manchester City from Valencia back in 2010 it was seen as a huge signing, but no one could've imagined the impact that he'd go on to make. 'Merlin' as the City fans like to call him, has become one of the best midfielders in Premier League history, with his knack for scoring goals along with his sublime creativity making him a key cog in City's domestic dominance over the last few years. He arrived in England as a #10 but under Pep Guardiola his game has changed, he's dropped slightly further back down the pitch and it's given him a new lease of life. Last year he was one of the players of the season, contributing 20 goals (9G 11A) on the way to City becoming the first side in English top flight history to accumulate 100 points in the league. He battled with some tough personal problems last year but the way he handled himself on and off the pitch makes him one of the most likeable players in the game - a truly inspiring, humble professional who deserves every accolade he receives.
Central Midfield: Patrick Vieira
Club: Arsenal & Manchester City
Premier League Stats: 307 Appearances, 31 Goals, 34 Assists, 3x Winner (1997/98, 2001/02 & 2003/04)
The first signing of the Arsene Wenger era at Arsenal and of the greatest midfielders that the Premier League & English football has ever seen - Patrick Vieira. He arrived at Arsenal back in 1996 following an underwhelming spell in Italy with AC Milan and he wasn't someone that the Gunners supporters knew an awful lot about, but that soon changed. Vieira's impact in North London saw him become the hub of several dominant Wenger sides, forming fantastic midfield partnerships with the likes of Ray Parlour, Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto Silva on the way to picking up 3 Premier League winners medals. And of course something that cannot be forgotten is his role in Arsenal's invincible season when they become the first side in PL history to win the league and go unbeaten - a simply incredible achievement. Vieira's passion, determination, strength and technical ability made him the complete package in midfield, the perfect captain and the ultimate rival for Manchester United. His battles with Roy Keane on the pitch and in the tunnel are legendary and since the pair retired we haven't seen anything like it.
Left Wing: Robert Pires
Clubs: Arsenal & Aston Villa
Premier League Stats: 198 Appearances, 62 Goals, 41 Assists, 2x Winner (2001/02 & 2003/04)
The final member of our midfield four comes in the form of former Arsenal and France man Robert Pires. It was a tough choice this one, with him pushed hard by both David Ginola and Eden Hazard but we feel that his consistency for the Gunners made him the outstanding candidate. Like his compatriot Vieira, Pires was a key component of the Invincible Arsenal team that won the 2003/04 Premier League title without losing a game, becoming one of the divisions leading attackers. The Frenchmen provided a huge threat from the left for the Gunners and he struck up a devastating partnership in the final third with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry - which resulted in an awful lot of goals. He was signed as a replacement for Marc Overmars and despite having enormous boots to fill, he really made his place in the team his own. Pires spent 6 hugely successful years at Highbury before moving onto Villarreal in Spain then returning to England with Aston Villa - making 9 appearances at the age of 37.
Striker: Thierry Henry
Premier League Stats: 258 Appearances, 175 Goals, 74 Assists, 2x Winner (2001/02 & 2003/04)
Arguably the best striker we've ever seen in England, Thierry Henry, is our first choice to lead the attack in our side. Another French signing made by Arsene Wenger, he enjoyed a transformation similar to that of Cristiano Ronaldo. Henry was originally a pacey winger but Wenger identified him as the man to lead his attack, with the consequences absolutely devastating for the opposition. In 8 years at Arsenal Henry went on to shatter all sorts of records, becoming the clubs all-time record scorer with 226 goals in just 369 (175 of which came in the Premier League) along with inspiring them to 2 Premier League titles. Another member of the invincibles, Henry scored 24 or more league goals in 5 of his 8 seasons in England which saw him pick up the Golden Boot on 4 occasions. His total of 175 goals remains the highest ever scored by a foreign player in the Premier League and you really feel that if he spent longer here, he would've come extremely close to breaking Alan Shearer's record of 260 - possibly even eclipsing it.
Striker: Sergio Aguero
Club: Manchester City
Premier League Stats: 209 Appearances, 146 Goals, 35 Assists, 3x Winner (2011/12, 2013/14 & 2017/18)
The last selection in our team was a tough one, but we've opted for Manchester City man Sergio Aguero. He had tough competition from the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola and Didier Drogba but his ridiculous consistency over the last few seasons made him the go-to-guy. Along with Vincent Kompany and David Silva, he's one of the icons of City's dominance over the last few years and he's written his name into history for a number of reasons. Last year he became the clubs all-time record goalscorer with him currently on a staggering 204 goals in just 295 games and he's also responsible for the most famous moment in Premier League history. His last minute winner against QPR (3-2) saw City snatch the PL title from neighbours Manchester United with virtually the last kick of the season which has made him a legend at the club. His strike rate in England since arriving is second to none and if he stays with the Citizens for a couple more seasons you'd expect him to eclipse Henry's 175 league goals - what a player.
⚽️ GET £30 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £10 BET ⚽️
New customers only. First single & e/w bet only odds of 1/1 or greater. 3 x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes are not included in returns. Free bets are only redeemable on football. Free bets are non-withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions and further t&cs apply. 18+.
🟢 Bet £10 & Get £50 in free bets! 🟡
For new customers. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
🔸 BET £10 AND GET £30 IN FREE BETS! 🔸
New Customer offer. Place a min £10 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £30 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
⚽️ BET £10 & GET £40 IN FREE BETS! (MOBILE ONLY) ⚽️
Sign-up via Mobile using promo code N40 and place a bet of £10/€10 or more and we will give you 4x £10/€10 free bets. By entering the Promo code in the box above you agree to the full terms and conditions of this promotion as displayed below. See full terms below.
⚽️ UP TO £50 MONEY BACK AS CASH IF ANY OF YOUR FIRST 5X £10 FOOTBALL BETS LOSE ⚽️
Place 5x£10 Sportsbook bets on any market at minimum odds of 2.0 (Evs), and get money back as Cash if it loses. Max refund per qualifying bet is £10 (up to £50 in total). Only deposits made via Cards will be eligible for the promotion (Apple Pay excluded). T&Cs apply
🔷 GET £30 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU BET £10 🔷
Full T&C’s Apply. New customers on mobile only. 7 days to claim and stake £10 minimum bet at odds of 1.5 or greater to qualify. Free, void, cashed out or partially cashed out bets do not qualify. Max 3x £10 free bets credited on bet settlement. Free bets must be used on 4 or more selections with selection odds of 1.3 or greater. Free bets are non-withdrawable and stake not returned with winnings. 7 day expiry. 18+ BeGambleAware.org.
🟠 BET £10 & GET £20 IN FREE BETS! 🟠
*New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from crediting (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org
🔴 GET £20 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU BET £5 🔴
18+ New UK+IRE Customers only. Certain deposit methods & bet types excl. Min first £/€5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 to get 4x £/€5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned. Restrictions + T&Cs apply.
✅ BET £10 & GET £30 IN FREE BETS ✅
New UK, IE & Malta customers only. 18+. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card or Trustly. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5. Free bets expire in 90 days. Full T&Cs apply.
🔹 GET £30 IN BONUSES WHEN YOU BET £5 🔹
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus a £10 Slot Bonus, selected games, wager 20x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
✅ GET A FREE BET UP TO £35 + 10 FREE SPINS ✅
If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £35 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free online casino spins at QuinnCasino. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | 18+ New UK Customers Only | BeGambleAware.org
BET £5 & GET £30 IN BONUSES
18+ New Customers opt in, bet £5 & get 2x £10 Free Bets for set events (odds 2.00+) + £10, Slots Bonus, selected games, 35x wagering to withdraw max £250. Bonuses expire in 7 days. Card Payments only. T&Cs Apply, see below. | begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
🎉 BET £10 & GET £60 FREE BETS! 🎉
New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+). First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
🟢 UP TO £40 MONEY BACK AS BONUSES + A £10 CASINO BONUS 🟢
18+ begambleaware.org. New customers only. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus if first sports bet loses. Wagering requirements: sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Unless forfeited the sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Bonus expires 7 days after opt-in. Visit Unibet.co.uk for full T&C's. #Ad
🔵 BET £10 & GET £20 IN FREE BETS + ACCA REWARDS OF YOUR CHOICE! 🔵
New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. Mobile exclusive. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. Free bet applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. 30 days to qualify. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. Payment method restrictions. 1 Free Bet offer per customer, household & IP Address only. 18+. T&C's Apply **18+. Choose either Boost or Insurance. Available for in-play/pre-match bets on selected sports. You cannot use specials, boosts, any free bet or any other promotion. A minimum of 5 selections and minimum odds of 1/5 per selection/leg to receive Acca Rewards. Minimum stake of £/€0.05. Max free bet refund of £/€20 per Acca for Insurance. Maximum bonus payout is €/£1,000 per Acca for boost. Free bets, cashed out or voided bets will not qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
♥️ GET £40 FREE PLAY PLUS A £10 FREE SPORTS BET! ♥️
1st time depositors only. Min. deposit £10. Use code FAPOKER. Free Play given as cash, Spin & Go tickets, and a Sports Free Bet over 6 days. Tickets expire after 24 hours. Withdrawal restricted during bonus period. Terms apply.
🔵 GET £20 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU BET £5 🔵
18+ New UK & ROI Customers only. Min deposit £5. Min first £5 bet at minimum odds 1/2 to qualify for 1x 20 free bet. Certain deposit methods and bet types excl. Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned. Restrictions + T&Cs apply.
⚫️ GET A £30 MATCHED FREE BET IF YOUR FIRST FOOTBALL ACCA LOSES!!!! ⚫️
*New UK customers only. Min Deposit: £5. Maximum Free Bet: £30. First bet on a Football multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets available upon settlement of the qualifying bet. Debit card deposits only. This is offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. 18+ BeGambleAware.org Full terms apply.