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Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has consistently impressed over the course of the decade,
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has consistently impressed over the course of the decade,
Image: EMPICS Sport

Do you agree with our Premier League Team of the Decade?

Find out who we went with and which players were controversially omitted.
Dec 23rd 2019, 11:00 AM 22,060 44

David de Gea: The only Man United player who has excelled for much of the decade, though he has slipped a bit in recent times, De Gea established himself to the point where he was considered by most critics to be among the top two or three goalkeepers in the world.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 5

Kyle Walker: Pablo Zabaleta is the obvious alternative choice to Walker, and while he was a key player in City’s early years of dominance, he only really excelled in the first half of the decade and started to become a bit-part player for the club around the 2015-16 season, before Guardiola took over. Walker, by contrast, was key in their rejuvenation under the Catalan coach — it’s no coincidence that their era of real dominance began after they signed the full-back from Tottenham, where he also enjoyed a number of fine seasons.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 3

Vincent Kompany: When Vincent Kompany arrived at City, they had never won the Premier League. By the time he left, he had been instrumental in them lifting it four times. The Belgian defender was used more sparingly in the Guardiola era — he never appeared more than 17 times in a single season in the league under the ex-Barcelona coach. But his influence at the club remained considerable, and it’s no surprise they have struggled to maintain their standards of excellence since he departed in the summer.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 3

Virgil van Dijk: Generally on this list, we’ve opted to go with players who have had a long-term impact on the league. Van Dijk has only played five seasons in England, two and a half of which were at Southampton. Yet the competition for the second centre-back spot isn’t particularly strong. There are a few players who had great standalone seasons, such as Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Morgan, but not many that were consistently great throughout. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at Tottenham are perhaps an exception, though that factor is undermined by their lack of trophy wins. The only centre-back who has emulated Kompany with three PFA Team of the Year appearances is Gary Cahill, so there is a case to be made for his inclusion. But ultimately, no other defender can compare with the impact Van Dijk has had — the signing of the Dutch international is surely the biggest reason why the Reds have gone from being a decent top-four side to the best team in the league at present.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 1

Cesar Azpilicueta: Incredibly, the only player on this list never to feature in the  PFA Team of the Season — a fact that significantly enhances the view that he is one of the most underrated stars in the league. He was particularly good in the two seasons Chelsea won the league (2014-15 and 2016-17), with both those teams built on a strong defence. And while the Londoners have suffered over the decade to a degree from a lack of consistency, with various managers coming and going, since signing for a reported fee of £7 million in August 2012, Azpilicueta has been a virtual ever-present regardless of the person in charge at the club.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 0

N’Golo Kante: Very few players win back-to-back Premier League titles, but N’Golo Kante is an exception to this rule. It is impossible to imagine Leicester’s remarkable Premier League triumph without him being in the team, while he then helped Chelsea to the title after signing for a reported fee of £32 million. And all this having begun the decade playing with Boulogne, spending a season in France’s third tier and gradually working his way up the ranks from there.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 2

Fernandinho: One of the most underrated of City’s stars, the midfielder has been a consistently integral member of their side, making 30-plus appearances in five out of six seasons with the Premier League outfit and helping them win three titles. Now 34, he remains an important squad member and is someone who will undoubtedly be remembered as a club legend when he does hang up his boots.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade:

manchester-city-v-brighton-hove-albion-premier-league-etihad-stadium Yaya Toure won three Premier League titles with Man City. Source: Martin Rickett

Yaya Toure: There are a couple of contenders for the third midfield spot — Steven Gerrard, Nemanja Matic, Michael Carrick and Dele Alli all had at least one very good season, but Toure just about edges the competition out. Though ultimately reduced to the periphery of the team by Guardiola, Toure was involved in three of City’s Premier League triumphs and was a key player for two of them. Arguably no individual did more to stop a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool from winning the title in the 2013-14 campaign, with the Ivorian registering a phenomenal 20 goals in 35 league games.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 2

Eden Hazard: In terms of natural talent, probably only Suarez rivals Hazard in the list of players who have graced the Premier League in the 2010s. The two Chelsea teams he played in that won the league weren’t often scintillating to watch and were better known for their defensive prowess. However, Hazard was the anomaly — the player who turned those Blues sides from a good team into a great one. His consistency was also impressive — the attacking midfielder reached double figures in terms of goals scored in five out of the seven seasons in which he played in England.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 4

David Silva: Every bit as vital as Messrs Aguero, Kompany and Toure in transforming City into the best-performing Premier League team of the decade, whereas before their arrival, the club’s last league triumph had come in 1968. In those early days of the project when they were trying to establish themselves as England’s dominant force, countless expensive foreign imports rocked up at the Etihad, but Silva was one of the few who had staying power. He is currently in his 10th season at the club and is set to depart at the end of the campaign, with a glittering decade in English football to look back on.

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Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 2

Sergio Aguero: Arguably the individual who has had the biggest effect on English football this decade. The last-gasp goal to win City their first Premier League crown in 2012 will surely be the moment with which he is irrevocably associated, but there were so many more high points. The statistics are astonishing: four Premier League titles, 173 goals in 250 league appearances and counting, six seasons with 20 or more goals.

There are plenty of other attackers who deserve honourable mentions having enjoyed at least one exceptional campaign — they include Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Mo Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, Jamie Vardy and Robin van Persie — but none of those players can match the Argentina international for sheet consistency over a lengthy period.

Appearances in PFA Team of the Season this decade: 2

Formation (4-3-3): De Gea; Walker, Kompany, Van Dijk, Azpilicueta; Fernandinho, Kante, Toure; Hazard, Silva, Aguero.

Manager: Pep Guardiola

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