Sergio Aguero overtook Thierry Henry to become the all-time leading overseas scorer in the Premier League as the Argentine hit a stunning hat trick in Manchester City’s win at Aston Villa.
This prompted some debate about Aguero vs Henry as the best Premier League striker of all time, with a Sky Sports poll and plenty of reaction surrounding it suggesting neutrals were firmly in the Henry camp.
Well, this has inspired us to put together an XI of the best ever foreign imports into the Premier League, with so many of the best talent from around the world lighting up the English top flight in the last couple of decades.
Henry and Aguero both make it in up front, with the City hot-shot’s latest heroics surely elevating him above even legendary figures like Eric Cantona and Dennis Bergkamp.
Anyway, read on for our XI in full, with the luxury of no Gerrard/Scholes/Lampard debate in midfield for a change!
GK: Peter Schmeichel
An extremely tricky call here, with Manchester United arguably having three world class goalkeepers who could fill this spot.
Current Red Devils shot-stopper David de Gea is the superior player in the eyes of some, while even Edwin van der Sar is surely in with a shout, while Chelsea fans will be quite justifiably be crying out for Petr Cech.
Still, Peter Schmeichel remains one of the most inspired signings in the Premier League era, making a number of incredible saves that contributed to some of the biggest successes in Man Utd’s history, so the Danish legend gets the nod from us.
CB: Vincent Kompany
A great defender and even better club captain, even at the age of 33 Vincent Kompany has looked a big miss for this Manchester City side this season.
The Belgian remained a key player for City right until he bowed out at the end of the last campaign, during which he scored a crucial long-range strike against Leicester City that played a key role in him going on to lift his fourth Premier League trophy at the Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool fans will no doubt think Virgil van Dijk is already ahead of Kompany, but he’s got some way to go yet if you ask us!
CB: Nemanja Vidic
Another former United player, tough-tackling Serbian centre-back Nemanja Vidic is surely a must-have in this XI.
Arriving as a relative unknown in 2006, Vidic quickly established himself as a hugely important member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s second really dominant side that won three Premier League titles in a row and the Champions League between 2007 and 2009.
Vidic went on to become United captain and will surely always be remembered as perhaps the greatest hard-man in recent Premier League history.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
An underrated great of recent times, Branislav Ivanovic was, like his fellow countryman Vidic, something of an unknown when he joined Chelsea in 2008.
However, there is no doubt now that he formed a key part of some of Chelsea’s best teams, producing both solid defensive displays at the back and some important goals in big games to make himself a real cult hero.
LB: Patrice Evra
In a list dominated by former United players, we have our third before we’re even done with the defence, with Patrice Evra in at left-back.
If this were simply an all-time great Premier League XI, Ashley Cole would probably just about shade it here, but Evra is surely the best overseas player we’ve seen in that position.
Like Vidic, Evra joined MUFC in 2006 and didn’t initially look the most eye-catching signing, but he ended up becoming a real club legend, producing world class displays week in, week out to help the club lift a number of major trophies in his eight years at Old Trafford.
CM: Patrick Vieira
Nearly 15 years after his departure, Arsenal still haven’t really replaced their former club captain and midfield lynch-pin Patrick Vieira.
In fairness, the Frenchman was a truly rare breed with his combination of aggression, intelligence and technical ability, making him one of the great all-rounders to play in this position in the Premier League era.
Vieira could do just about everything, and gave a gifted Arsenal team the leader they needed and that they now so sorely lack.
CM: Roy Keane
All these years later, and there’s still not really anyone who can break up the Keane-Vieira partnership in best XI’s like this.
The Irishman, like Vieira, was an inspirational leader for his club, as well as being an underrated footballer who played such a huge role in making his team tick.
We’ve had great foreign midfielders of different varieties, with Claude Makelele, Xabi Alonso and Yaya Toure all having world class qualities to make them contenders for this team, but Keane had a bit of all of them in him at his peak.