The third decade of Premier League football introduced us to some superstars who would cement themselves as greats of the division, Manchester City emerging as the most successful side of the decade with four league titles.
Leicester stunned the sporting world by overcoming odds of 5000-1 to be crowned as champions in 2016, whilst the Premier League waved goodbye to managerial legends in Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger whose dynasties at Manchester United and Arsenal were brought to an end.
Following on from our editions celebrating the nineties and 2000’s, we’ve decided to try and rank the defining names of the era with a look at the best Premier League players of the decade.
Here are our rankings of the 10 best Premier League players of the 2010’s:
10. David de Gea
There were few fans who predicted the heights David de Gea would reach during the 2010’s following a shaky start to his career at Manchester United, the young goalkeeper overcoming a difficult period of adaption to emerge as the best in the division.
De Gea, at the peak of his powers, defied logic with a number of incredible reaction saves, his shot-stopping as good as any goalkeeper to have graced the Premier League.
The Spain international formed part of the Manchester United side that was crowned champions in 2013, and was recognised by his fellow professionals after winning the club’s Player of the Year award a record four times in addition to five inclusions in the PFA Team of the Year.
There was an aura that surrounded De Gea when at his best with his ability to produce the impossible, the goalkeeper the best number one of the decade and a player who remains crucial to the current side.
9. N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante would rise from relative unknown to global name in just the space of a couple of seasons after arriving into the Premier League, the midfielder becoming the all-action heartbeat of two separate title-winning sides.
Kante signed for Leicester from Caen in 2015 and helped inspire the Foxes to a stunning title triumph during his debut season at the King Power Stadium, before moving to Chelsea in a £30 million deal and winning the PFA Player of the Year as a second successive title was won at Stamford Bridge.
The Frenchman went on to win the 2018 World Cup at international level and forged a reputation as arguably the world’s best defensive midfielder, his endless energy a driving force behind the success of both Leicester and Chelsea in the 2010’s.
8. Yaya Toure
One of the key figures in Manchester City‘s rise to prominence throughout the decade, Yaya Toure was one of the first world-class names to arrive at the Etihad and so often the inspiration behind the club’s early successes of the Sheikh Mansour era.
Toure was a force of nature at his rampaging best from midfield, an unstoppable talent who left opposition players in his wake and had the technique to produce moments of inspiration.
The Ivorian scored the crucial winning goal as City won a first trophy in 35 years with FA Cup success in 2011, before playing his part in three Premier League title triumphs throughout the decade.
Toure’s performances during the 2013/14 season rank as arguably the greatest individual season by a Premier League midfielder, scoring 20 goals and providing nine assists as Manuel Pellegrini’s side beat Liverpool to the title.
See also – Remembering Yaya Toure’s monstrous performance during the 13/14 Premier League season
7. Luis Suarez
There are players on this list with greater longevity and success throughout the decade, but few sparkled quite like Luis Suarez did at his brilliant best.
Suarez signed for Liverpool in 2011 and after an initial slow start, he would flourish into the division’s most talented footballer, scoring 30 goals in all competitions during the 2012/13 campaign before a sensational season followed.
The Uruguayan was irresistible in firing the Reds to the brink of the Premier League title, scoring 31 league goals in just 33 appearances to win the division’s Golden Boot alongside a Footballer of the Year double.
That proved to be his final season on Merseyside as a £75m move to Barcelona followed, but Suarez was unquestionably one of the world’s best at his Premier League peak and amongst the defining players of the decade.
6. Gareth Bale
Another player for who a lack of longevity prevents a higher placing on this list, though Gareth Bale was exhilarating in his final years at Tottenham before moving to Real Madrid in a world-record deal.
The Welshman was an unstoppable force of raw athleticism and spectacular skill, rampaging past opposition full-backs and providing memorable moments for the north London side’s supporters.
Bale was named as the PFA Player of the Year in 2011 before winning the award again two years later, his second coming alongside the FWA Footballer of the Year accolade after scoring 26 goals in all competitions.
The winger would go on to score over a century of goals and win four Champions League trophies with the Spanish giants, but it was the blistering version of Bale that lit up the Premier League in the early 2010’s that will be most fondly remembered.
5. Harry Kane
Harry Kane ranks fifth in our list of the best players of the decade, the Tottenham forward establishing himself as one of the greatest goalscorers in English football.
Kane scored 31 goals in all competitions during a remarkable first season as a regular at Spurs, before winning back-to-back Premier League Golden Boot accolades in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
The forward’s finest individual season came the following year, however, as he netted a staggering 41 goals in just 48 appearances for the north Londoners before becoming only the second Englishman to win a World Cup Golden Boot in 2018.
Named in the PFA Team of the Year on four occasions throughout the decade, Kane ranks second amongst the leading scorers of the 2010’s and is one of just four players to have racked up over a century of Premier League goals in that time.
4. Vincent Kompany
Manchester City were the dominant force of the decade and it is the club’s inspirational figurehead who ranks fourth in this list, Vincent Kompany having hoisted aloft the Premier League four times throughout the 2010’s.
Kompany was a colossal presence with his dominant defending and leadership from the back, the central defender pivotal to his side and an irreplaceable figure at the Etihad.
Kompany suffered plenty of injury problems in his career, but when fit, there were few better defenders in the division, whilst he often delivered when it mattered most with crucial winning goals during the title run-ins in 2012 and 2019.
John Terry stands as the only captain to have lifted more titles than the Belgium defender, whose performances contributed towards City’s transformation into one of the Premier League’s powerhouse clubs.
3. Eden Hazard
Amongst the most captivating players of the 2010’s, Eden Hazard dazzled as the creative hub of Chelsea‘s best sides throughout the era after signing in a £32m deal from Lille.
Hazard was a breathtaking talent when at his brilliant best, possessing flawless close control and a low-centre of gravity that took him past opposition defenders with an effortless and elegant ease.
The Belgium international was named as Chelsea’s Player of the Season on four occasions and won the PFA Player of the Year as the west Londoners won the title in 2015, before again proving an inspirational figure as a second Premier League crown was won two years later.
He scored 85 league goals in 245 appearances for the Blues across a seven-season spell at Stamford Bridge, winning six major honours and leaving a wealth of lasting memories.
2. Sergio Aguero
The highest-scoring player of the decade and now the leading overseas goalscorer in Premier League history, Sergio Aguero’s career at Manchester City has been one of glorious goals and sustained success.
Aguero delivered arguably the most iconic moment in the division’s history during his debut campaign at the Etihad, netting a stoppage-time winner on the final day of the season against Queens Park Rangers to seal the first of four league titles for City in the 2010’s.
The Argentina international has scored with a ruthless efficiency ever since and won the Premier League’s Golden Boot during the 2014/15 season, one of a joint-record five consecutive campaigns in which he scored 20+ league goals.
His current record stands at 256 goals in just 379 appearances for Manchester City, whilst the club’s greatest ever goalscorer ranks fourth overall in the Premier League pantheon after leaving an indelible mark on English football.
1. David Silva
Our number one player of the decade is another Manchester City icon in David Silva, arguably the best footballer to have played on the blue half of the city.
Silva was central to each of the club’s notable successes throughout the era, winning 11 major honours including four league titles and the League Cup on five occasions.
The Spaniard sparkled with that familiar graceful guile, his close control mesmerising as he operated in spaces between defensive lines and unlocked defences with moments of passing precision.
Silva was consistently brilliant during a glittering decade at the Etihad and whilst City have had some stellar names it is arguably the diminutive playmaker who knitted the side together, a wonderfully talented footballer and one who ranks amongst the greatest overseas imports of the Premier League era.
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