The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: The Best and Worst Premier League Players

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The Premier League is home to a slew of football megastars, a number of them are becoming more prominent as the money in the game increases and more of the world’s best players flock to the league. In the past years, Real Madrid and Barcelona were the talks of soccer town, today, it seems attention is shifting to the EPL, as once players get into the English Premier League, even the young players will usually spend most of their playing time there. 

Who is considered the best of the best and the worst of the worst in the EPL? There will never be a definitive conclusion to the debate over the best players in the Premier League, nor will there ever be an objectively right response. Everyone enjoys making their opinions known, and the Premier League has undoubtedly had some outstanding players since its inception nearly three decades ago, including Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero, Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and many more. On the other hand, who are the worst players to have played in the Premier League era? Today we’ll look at some of the best and some of the worst players to grace the Premier League.

The Good

Petr Cech

Cech’s farewell to Arsenal should have been more successful than it ultimately was, but his stay at Chelsea was a remarkable triumph for the club. When he initially joined the Blues in 2004, he allowed just 15 league goals in his debut season with the club. The Premier League’s record for most goals saved in a single season is held by no other goalkeeper in the league’s history, and it seems unlikely that this mark will beat any Hall of Fame records anytime soon. 

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Didier Drogba

Although Didier Drogba only reached the 20-goal mark in the Premier League twice during his two periods at Chelsea, he must be included on this list owing to his outstanding performances in key games. In crucial circumstances, the Ivorian was a standout performer for his team, none more so than in the 2012 Champions League finals game, when he scored the equalizer and then converted the winning penalty in the ensuing penalty shootout.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese legend took his time adjusting to life in England before storming the league in his last three years. He scored 66 goals in his final three league seasons, establishing himself as one of the world’s top players before his world-record transfer to Real Madrid.

Ryan Giggs

Giggs played with United for over a quarter of a century, earning an incredible 13 league championships during his tenure.

He did, however, need careful management towards the conclusion of his career, and one might argue that he was never really the most outstanding player in his own club, given United’s plethora of quality throughout the years.

The Bad

Jozy Altidor

Jozy Altidore scored only one goal in 28 appearances on loan at Hull City, but it did not stop Sunderland from signing the American striker in 2013. He scored his second goal in his 42nd Premier League appearance with the Black Cats.

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Milton Nunez

When Sunderland purchased Honduran Milton Nunez from PAOK for £1.6 million in 2000, some felt they made a mistake in their player choice. According to reports, Peter Reid was genuinely interested in signing Adolfo Valencia but had to settle on Nunez, which might explain why Nunez only made one appearance for the Black Cats during his time there.

Aly Dia

In 1996, Southampton recruited a guy who claimed to be George Weah’s cousin. He played 52 minutes against Leeds United, filling in for the injured Matt Le Tissier, before releasing him as it became plainly evident that he was awful. The Senegalese attacker played for non-league Gateshead in the following years before concluding his odd career with a local derby club.

The Ugly

Eden Hazard

Despite not being a consistent diver (he still dives), one of Eden Hazard’s worst moments occurred in 2013 when he kicked the ball boy in an attempt to grab the ball. Hazard’s ego and feeling of entitlement have been evident both on and off the field. Prior to joining Chelsea, he featured in a film in which he handed cards with the team’s names on them and used his facial expressions to suggest if he would join (assuming they all wanted him). Furthermore, Hazard has previously said that he would return to Chelsea after his “time at Real Madrid” is complete, insulting Madrid’s supporters and thinking Chelsea would want him back at that age. Hazard’s move to Real Madrid in 2019 also appeared to be more of a money-making exercise than a bid for greatness. He came overweight and reluctant to put in the necessary work on and off the field, scoring only one goal in an admittedly injury-plagued season and being derided by the media.

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Ashley Young

Ashley Young most likely signed for Inter Milan in 2020 to escape his reputation in England, which is understandable given Ashley’s difficulty remaining on his feet. Before the end of 2012, Young had won 11 penalties in 200 Premier League games, and he proceeded to ‘lose his balance’ in subsequent seasons.

While there is nothing wrong with winning penalties when you are really fouled, even his own manager at the time, Alex Ferguson, said that he fell spectacularly for one of the penalties he earned for Manchester United in 2011–12. David Moyes also cautioned him about his diving during the 2013–14 season. Other managers and analysts have been less cautious in their language, openly referring to him as a cheater and diver. He has been booked for diving multiple times over his career.

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