The Premier League has long been a magnet for world-class footballers.
The Premier League:Say what you like about whether or not England’s top-flight is the best league in the business, but there’s no denying that some of the sport’s finest players are keen to grace its shores.
And as the 2021/22 season starts to stretch its legs, we’re happy to share that nothing has changed in that department and we think that more than 10 players are deserving of that ‘world-class’ tag.
It’s a label that has been thrown around all-too often in football and it depends on who you ask when it comes to just how strict the criteria is when it comes to earning world-class status.
Some will have you believe that you need to be nipping at Lionel Messi’s heels to get the nod, while others will toss the ‘world-class’ label around like its going out of fashion.
Here at GIVEMESPORT, we like to think we’re somewhere in between and we’ve set ourselves the challenge of naming all the Premier League players that we consider to be world-class.
So, how are we defining it? Well, for the purposes of this article, we’re setting the bar at the player either getting into any team in the world or being within the sport’s best 30-40 best players.
In other words, they are, in our opinion, comfortably within the world’s top three players in their respective positions and we’re talking about right here, right now as opposed to years ago.
To make that call, we’re drawing upon their current status in the beautiful game, performances over the last 18 months and, well, how good your humble writer considers them to be.
So, yes, bear in mind that this is ultimately a subjective exercise and that we’re not claiming that any players who don’t make the cut are anything short of brilliant because they more than likely are.
World-class Premier League players
However, enough chit-chat and disclaimers, let’s dive into the 17 players in the Premier League that we consider to be worthy of ‘world-class’ status right here:
- Harry Maguire
And straight off the bat, we’re dealing with controversy because there is certainly a contingent of fans that seem to think Maguire is some sort of bumbling imposter as United captain.
However, if his Herculean performances for the Red Devils in 2021, as well as his incredible output at Euro 2020, haven’t persuaded you otherwise then we simply don’t know what will.
The simple fact of the matter is that Maguire is one of the world’s best defenders on his day and it just happens that the last 12 months have been littered with ‘on his day’ performances.
- Raphael Varane
Like, duh. Varane is a World Cup winner with more Champions League trophies than sense and he remains amongst the best centre-backs in the business even when he’s not on song.
- Luke Shaw
I can sense the Facebook comments section crucifying me already because this is by no means a vogue decision, but remember one of the criterion: “within the world’s top three players in their respective positions.”
And after ascending the Premier League Team of the Season and shining at Euro 2020, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that any left-back has the edge on Shaw right now. Like it or not, he’s world-class
- Paul Pogba
Given his undulating form at Old Trafford, Pogba was one of those players who sat right on the boundary of world-class territory, but his stunning form this summer has tipped him over the line.
Pogba was arguably Euro 2020’s best performer pound-for-pound and already has five Premier League assists to his name this season. Simply put, he’s one of the sport’s most talented players.
- Bruno Fernandes
Do we even need to justify this guy’s presence? I didn’t think so.
- Ruben Dias
Arguably the Premier League’s top performer last season and potentially the game’s best centre-back on current form, you’d be hard pressed to argue that Dias is anything less than world-class.
- Ilkay Gundogan
Is this a tad generous? Perhaps, but we’re given the swashbuckling German the benefit of the doubt when you consider that he was rightfully competing for the PFA Player of the Year award in 2020/21.
He might not have kicked on at Euro 2020, but make no mistake that Gundogan is one of the most dynamic midfielders in the game and based on individual quality alone, gets the nod over Jorginho in my book.
- Kevin De Bruyne
Like Fernandes, we’re not going to waste our breath justifying why De Bruyne is world-class because, let’s face it, he’s probably the best player in the Premier League. Period.
That being said, before we move on, something feels distinctly wrong about only naming three City players as world-class when they’ve won a hat-trick of Premier League titles under Pep Guardiola.
But read through their squad yourself and discover that it’s less clearcut than you’d imagine, even if the likes of Joao Cancelo, Raheem Sterling and Ederson came within a nose hair of getting the thumbs up.
- Alisson Becker
Truth be told, I’m inclined to think that most of the world’s best goalkeepers can be found outside of the Premier League, but it didn’t feel right now to name a single shot-stopper from English shores.
As such, I’m putting Alisson’s name forward as the Premier League’s finest number one, but I’ll happily admit that he’s one of the players that a harsher fan could easily eject from this list.