My Top 50 Favourite Players (50-41)

Ah the big one. Football is full of all sorts of different players. Different fans like different players. Some prefer strikers who score the simple goals, and some others like those silky dribblers in midfield. I’m no different. I like players for all sorts of reason. Either it’s reasons due to their ability on the field, off the field, or some other reason. I usually attempt to stay very objective. While some choices will be here for that very reason, some will not. So let’s get straight into it.

50. Alexandre Lacazette

To start things off, let’s go with a player who is currently playing at the top of his game. The Arsenal forward is an absolutely tremendous player. Not only is he an amazing goal scorer, he also offers so much off the ball. His movement and pressing of the defenders is incredibly useful. I was so happy when Arsenal signed him. He was just brilliant at Lyon, and after 3 seasons of goalscoring, he finally earned that move. While Lyon are now a great club for young players and attackers in general, back then they were very reliant on Lacazette to lead the line. His last season at Lyon was arguably his most prolific. He scored 28 in 28 starts, and was the only Lyon player to score over 10 goals in Ligue 1. He’s also a really good creator. In that season he had 3 assists, but created 1.7 chances a game. He was exactly what Arsenal needed and is now doing the same there. He is just an amazing goal scorer and watching him on the pitch is just so enjoyable. However my love for Lacazette comes from Fifa out of all things. For 3 games (15-17), he was that elite striker you’d always sign for a top club because of his potential and amazing stats. He was fast, strong and so good in front of goal. He was worth all the money you’d spend, and sometimes you could resell him for over £100m. He was one of the best players on the game and gave me so many fond memories. Thank you Laca.

49. Edin Dzeko

I’ve spoken about my love for the guy before on Heroes and Zeroes, but let’s go through it again with maybe more detail. I never truly thought about him when he was playing for Man City. Of course I disliked him for the soul reason of playing for my rivals, but I only knew he was good in the air and was a perfect alternative to Sergio Aguero, however my attention wasn’t drawn until his move to Roma. Roma at the time weren’t exactly full of goal machine’s. I always have an issue with any side that sign Seydou Doumbia. It almost tells me you’re desperate for goals and have no other option. I thought Dzeko was a good choice. There was proof of his time at Wolfsburg that he can carry a team’s goals, and learnt more link play skills while in England. He was ready to lead the line for a side on his own. To say he’s been a success at Roma is a huge understatement. While his first season wasn’t exactly prolific, only scoring 8 in 31. He offers so much in link up and trouble for defenders that he’s always justified his occasional small goal numbers. But after that he has truly been incredible. He scored 29 in the 16/17 season, and was a huge player for Roma’s huge 91 point season. His goals have decreased in the league since then, but he was amazing in the Champions League. He scored 8 in 12 last season, and is now on 4 in 5 this season. Why I love Dzeko is he is the blueprint for a dying art, the target man. The Bosnian can do everything you want from a huge number 9. He is so good in the air and always has been. It’s an ability that no matter how old you get, you never lose that effectiveness. He’s now 32 and is still incredible at winning the ball in the air. However is best feature is circumstance. It’s a weird feature, but let me explain. He is playing in a side full of wide talent. Under, Kluivert and El Shaararwy are all good players, but still need to start showing consistency. Having a player like Dzeko, who is so effective in giving space to teammates and giving them good chances to score. He is benefitting more than just himself, and that selflessness is why I love him as a player.

48. Saul Ñíguez

Saul is an amazing midfielder. My love began after his incredible solo goal against Bayern Munich back in 2016. Thanks to that solo goal, that I assume Alaba, Vidal and Alonso have still not recovered from, it turned into a name I would not forget. After looking more into him, I then realised he also scored that incredible over head kick against Real Madrid in 2015. It almost sums up why I love him. He is a hard working player who puts in good tackle and interception numbers, yet is capable of these crazy moments of magic. He’s your classic don’t judge a book by it’s cover player. I think the assumption made about him comes from playing for Diego Simeone. Before recent huge signings like Lemar and Martins, his team were a hardworking unit that were great at winning the ball high up and using their physicality to their advantage. From the way he plays, he is quite similar to a Gabi, Koke or Turan, but he’s more than that. He can be relied on in tough moments and is capable of those quality moments. I love him for these moments and has made me gasp multiple times with some of his goals.

47. Joe Allen

As mentioned before, this is very much a personal list. These are players who may contain a great memory and it’s why I have an affection towards them. Joe Allen might be the epitome of that. A player who never really achieved much at club level, thanks to his disappointing time at Anfield. However that is not important. I am Welsh, and thanks to his incredible performances at the 2016 Euros, I will never forget him. The current Stoke midfielder was an important player in that side. Ramsey is a disaster positionally and Joe Ledley only recovered from an injury while the tournament was still going. Allen had a lot of work to do, and he was amazing. He controlled the midfield and he also protected the defense well. It was strange to see such an average manager in Chris Coleman figure out how to finally get Allen playing well consistently. He was so good that he was actually in the team of the tournament. He has a nickname in this country, the Welsh Pirlo, because of his similar haircut. However in that summer, he turned into Pirlo and was a key reason why my country had their most successful tournament since Pele was playing. Thanks Joe!

46. Pepe

Quite the controversial player, but effective in his own way, Pepe is an incredibly memorable player. He used to have the title as the dirtiest player in Europe, with memorable horror challenges on Messi and against Getafe’s captain at the start to life at Madrid. However after that indefensible incident, he changed as a player. He said that he was considering his future in football after lashing out in 2009, and after a few years of continuing the bad reputation, he truly turned it around. After that sending off in a 2011/12 El Classico, Pepe has not received a single red card at club level (he did receive one at the 2014 World Cup however). Why I love him does come from this. He kicked out the ugly side of his game, and turned into an incredible defender. His performance at the 2016 Euros could possibly be the best seen from a defender at a major tournament. He made 3.2 interceptions, won 3.8 aerial duels and commited under a foul a game. Pepe’s transformation is why I have such a fondness to him. He went from a joke into one of the best around. A player who knew the dark side of the game and knew how to exploit it. A real winner.

45. Moussa Dembele

While he has dropped off a cliff in the last couple of seasons, no one can argue that when Dembele was in his peak, he was one of the most useful and wanted midfielders to have in Europe. Dembele has never been a spectacular midfielder, like a Kroos or Thiago, but he filled a hole in a side that everyone wanted. He was so good at winning the ball back and a brilliant dribbler. Between 2012 and 2016, he was arguably the best dribbling central midfielder in Europe. He was so powerful and quick that it was nearly impossible to dispossess him. He even did plenty of defensive work too. When Spurs were at their best, it was because they had an incredible midfielder who did the most wanted role in anyone’s midfield. It’s similar to why I have such a liking towards him. It could be out of sheer jealousy, since my side does not have a player similar to peak Moussa Dembele. He’s everything I want a midfielder to be. A well rounded player who should have earned so much more praise than he got.

44. Diego Forlan

While my memories of him at Manchester United aren’t exactly vast, his performances in La Liga and at the 2010 World Cup is what made me love the forward. He put in performances that made him one of the best strikers in the world at Atletico Madrid and Villarreal. He could take set pieces, penalties and was a machine in front of goal. He was also a pretty good creative forward. He was the blueprint for what a forward in the modern game should be. He also scored against Liverpool at Anfield. If any player does that, they are worshipped at United. In fact his name was chanted by United fans when they were playing Sunderland in 2017, making José Mourinho ask the valid question “why are they singing his name?” I truly hate Liverpool, and any player who causes them misery makes me extremely happy. While that is always great, it’s South Africa in 2010 that is my fondest memory of him. It’s the first world cup I religiously watched and he was by far the most memorable part of the whole tournament. Uruguay were not tipped to reach the semi finals, yet still got there and it was all thanks to Forlan. He won the Golden Boot and did that by scoring some absolutely stunning goals. It could be down to the terrible ball used in the tournament, but he still deserves plenty of credit. That volley against Germany, which he hit against the ground to take Neuer the wrong way, was pure genius. It’s a shame I wasn’t old enough to remember him in his earlier days, but I still loved what I saw.

43. Edwin Van Der Sar

I think Van Der Sar might be the best goalkeeper United have had in the Premier League era. While Schmeichal is always remember fondly by United fans for his incredible and aggressive personality in goal, Van Der Sar was just incredible. Replacing Schmeichal took an extremely long time to do for a club of United’s size. His lack of an adequate replacement is why United’s early 2000s weren’t great. Fergie was under a lot of pressure, due to Arsenal looking the real deal and Chelsea with their new oil money. While Rooney and Ronaldo were signings that would eventually turn United into the best team around, Van Der Sar was an immediate fix that just took too long to happen. He was signed from Fulham for only 2 million. In reality he probably should have been signed soon as his time in Turin was coming to an end. Soon as he arrived in Manchester, Ferguson’s winning machine was back to its best. My favourite memory of the Dutchman is easily the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow. It’s the first and only time I saw my team win the biggest trophy in club football, and it was thanks to Van Der Sar making that save. The entire side running and screaming in happiness to see their veteran keeper making the most important penalty save in his career. He was truly the best.

42. Kevin Prince Boateng

While his younger brother might be the superior player, Kevin Prince Boateng is a personal favourite of mine. Whether it’s choosing to play for Ghana over Germany, and constantly moving clubs, there’s just something unique about him. Boateng has played for a lot of clubs, 10 in fact, ranging from unsuccessful spells in England for Tottenham and Portsmouth, to playing for AC Milan and Genoa, to playing for Schalke and Frankfurt. He’s been around to say the least. What can truly be loved about the Ghanian is his versatility. From starting as a number 10 to moving further back, to playing as a striker for Las Palmas. He has proven to be a shot machine throughout his career, which is why with age, he was moved further up the pitch. The reason why I like him as a player is out of pure fascination. He never stayed longer than 2 seasons at a club and constantly moved around. It’s as if he was trying to see as much of the world as he could, and experience all the different clubs out there. Of course there is probably a more genuine reason why he has never stayed at a club for long, but that’s what I’d love to believe.

41. Ronaldinho

Oh where to begin with him. The king of the samba style of football has to be here. For anyone who grew up in the 2000s and obsessively played the Fifa Street games, there is nothing but love for tricky Brazilian. While I could go incredibly in-depth to how he probably inspired a sub category of FIFA games just because of his the pure entertaining way he played football, I’ll just stick to his game. The Balon d’Or, Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, World Cup, Copa America and Confederations cup winner is among one of the best players in history on pure ability. No other player in the start of the Millennium could move, dribble and beat opponents in the same way he could. He famously earned a standing ovation at the Bernabeu for putting in one of the best individual performances in history, scoring 2 incredible goals that must have embarrassed every defender on the pitch that day. On his day he was unplayable. He played the game in his own vision, with a huge smile on his face and just loved to show off. He played football like he lives life, to enjoy himself.

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Analyzing the top 7 in the EPL

With the new season looking even more competitive than the last. Let’s view each team’s situation nearing the start of the season, and predicting where they will finish this season. It’ll be in order from where they finished last season.

Chelsea

Chelsea have been a real mixed bag in the transfer market. On one hand, they’ve signed some good players in Rudiger, Bakayoko and Morata. But on the other hand, they’ve let so many players go and still haven’t addressed some of their biggest issues. Chelsea needed 2 centre backs, 1 wing back on each side and 2 midfielders. They have not addressed their full back area in the slightest. Chelsea haven’t prepared for the extra games that will be played in Europe. Moses and Alonso cannot play 50 games, they will need a break at points. What makes it worse is the players they sold. Pushing Diego Costa, one of the best strikers in the world, away from the club and replacing him with a striker Chelsea spent a lot of money on. Selling Matic to United, although a great move on United’s side, was a terrible decision on Chelsea’s part. They’re starting the new season with only 2 fit midfielders, with Bakayoko out till October. But the players who I was most furious at Chelsea for letting go was Chalobah, Ake and Traore. These three players were academy graduates of the club, and were hoping to finally be given a chance by the manager. But the club decided to sell these academy players, players who would of been able to play a part in the club and cost nothing. As a united fan who believes in giving youth a chance, it does hurt to see a club of Chelsea’s size disregarding players from their so called top academy. Because of all these reasons listed, this will be a difficult season for Chelsea, showing a clear downgrade from last season, with the possibility of Conte getting the sack.

Predicted Position: 7th

Spurs

This has been a quiet summer for the lilly whites. Besides selling Kyle Walker, they have engaged in zero business this summer, and they have no need to. Their clear priority was to keep hold of their best players, and with only a 27 year old full back being the casualty, they’ve done good this summer. They have something that no other team has. Stability. They are at a good stage right now and want to use more of their youth. They just need to ensure that they use all their players at their disposal. They have a deep squad full of quality, and if the likes of Kane, Alli and Eriksen can stay fit, they should have a good season. I don’t believe Wembley will be a huge issue for them, eventually their fans and the players will adapt. It will have no effect on their season overrall.

Predicted Position: 3rd

Manchester City

While Spurs had no need to add to their squad, Man city had plenty to add and sell to their talented squad. They began by signing Ederson and Bernardo Silva for a combined £78m, and that was only the beginning. Man city then went to fix their fullback area by spending £122m on Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. Many have complained about their insane spending here but it makes sense. Pep even said that they haven’t bought new fullbacks for years and all this sudden spending makes up for years of not buying new defenders. After their spree of spending, they have definitely turned themselves back into title favourites. They’ve finally bought fullbacks that Pep can trust and added more to that insanely talented attack. But they still have some issues that signings might not be able to fix. That defense, mainly at centre back, still isn’t good enough unless Kompany is playing. He’s became famous for having very dodgy knees, meaning he can’t play a full season anymore. Another issue that they share with their rivals is their lack of ability to kill a game off. Whether it’s Pep or his players, their were some big games where they failed to kill a game off. 3 come to mind, at home against Chelsea, away against Monaco and against Arsenal in Wembley. They struggled to take their lead to a point where they could sit back. They let Monaco and Chelsea back in the game when they had complete control. Even with these issues, I can see their big squad having a good season next season. A team with De Bruyne, Silva, Aguero and Jesus cannot be underestimated in the slightest.

Predicted Position: 2nd

Liverpool

Liverpool just about got into that top four, and will be looking to stay there. Last season they were able to play their fast pressing style because they only had one game to prepare for. They could play the same team every week because of their lack of games. But with the extra game it’ll give Klopp more to think about. If they don’t buy Van Dijk, then it’ll be a bad summer for them. Adding Salah, Solanke and Robertson are good for squad depth, but without some options in defense, they will struggle this season. Currently they don’t have enough defenders to be able to put out a difference defense each game. Like Chelsea, their squad still hasn’t got enough depth, and even though they have kept their best players, unlike Chelsea. They still need more a few squad players and a good midfielder and centre back. But if I was a Liverpool fan, I’d still put plenty of faith in Klopp. He’s a manager, like Mourinho and Ferguson, who can get the absolute most out of his players. He just has to ensure that he doesn’t burn these guys out. He has a young squad and must ensure these players last. I do think with Liverpool will get champions league. With a good manager and other team’s circumstances, they should be fine next season and build upon what they’ve done last season.

Predicted Position: 4th

Arsenal

Oh Arsenal. I don’t like talking about a team that still isn’t a threat and that hasn’t even added much to their squad but still, let’s discuss. After 2 years of chasing, they finally signed Lacazette. He will be an instant improvement on what they have already. He is more mobile than Giroud and doesn’t have the injuries of Danny Welbeck. It seems that they are keeping Sanchez which of course is a huge boost for them. But what all these idiotic Arsenal fans aren’t considering is Europa League. As a united fan watching his team crawl to the trophy, it takes so much out of you. I keep hearing arsenal fans wanting to bottle the competition but I wouldn’t recommend that. The top four is becoming increasingly difficult to get, so if Arsenal can win a European competition for the first time and get champions league football, it’ll be a good season. But that will involve them struggling in the league.

Predicted Position: 5th

Manchester United

I’m definitely speaking from a biased perspective, but I’m backing my team for the title, and I have some good reasons. The first would be Jose’s second season syndrome. Every team he’s managed has always won the title in its second season, because the players learn his system and that second summer always helps. Second, our signings. Even though I think there will still be another player coming, we’ve done some excellent business this summer. Taking Lukaku from Chelsea was genius, getting Lindelof early was ideal, and getting Matic from one of your rivals was perfect. All these players improve our squad in some way, especially Matic and Lukaku. Matic allows Pogba and Herrera to express themselves more and Lukaku adds a more clinical nature to the team as well as a strong pacey forward. And finally no more Europa league. With us playing in the elite competition stops us from travelling to these insanely distant countries on pitches that aren’t at the top level. And especially no more Thursday night football. It lets the players rest for longer in anticipation for the weekend. Last season we should have challenged, but our focus went further away from the league as the season went on. But this time Mourinho will have full focus on the league, and a focused Mourinho is unstoppable.

Predicted Position: 1st

Everton

It might seem strange to consider Everton a real threat to the big clubs, but with their increased funds and a real manager, they have to be considered a threat. Their main priority was to deal with Lukaku and Barkley, two increasing personalities at the club. They dealt with this by selling Lukaku to United and Koeman telling the press that Barkley has no future. Thn they had to prove that they are a threat, by spending some serious cash. They took the young Michael Keane and Pickford, fixing two issues they’ve had for a while, then buying Ajax captain Davy Klassen. And to add more to the squad , they bought ex Barcelona player Sandro for a bargain £5m and bagging Rooney on a free, and they are still spending, with the Toffees trying to tempt Swansea’s magician Siggurdsson for £50m. Everton have made themselves a threat, and now with a deep squad of talented young players. The only way is up for Everton.