With the 2010’s having just drawn to a close, now seems a good time to look back on the last 10 years of the Premier League, during which time Europe has provided us with a number of magnificent players, as well as many failed ones.
Here are the best individual footballers to have played in the Premier League during the 2010’s from every single European country, judged solely on the impact they made on the English game. Of course, several European countries had no representatives at all during this decade, and to narrow the criteria slightly, this article won’t be counting any player who made under 15 total appearances in the league, to filter out any winners by default. 34 countries, 34 players. Let’s get started.
The best footballers played in the Premier League 2010-2020 from every single European country
1. Austria: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City 2013-2017, West Ham 2017-2019)
Honourable mention: Christian Fuchs
Starting off with Austria, and former Stoke City and West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic. The striker slowly grew into English football and made a big impact at both of his clubs. Christian Fuchs deserves a mention though, for being a key part of Leicester City’s legendary title-winning side.
2. Belgium: Eden Hazard (Chelsea 2012-2019)
Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany
Belgium have provided a bigger influx of talent into the league than probably any other non-British nation in the past 10 years. Hazard wins it for his remarkable Chelsea career and vast array of individual accolades, although Kompany and De Bruyne are very close behind.
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City 2011-2015)
The clear winner here, with 50 Premier League goals and 2 title wins. Fondly remembered amongst Manchester City fans.
4. Bulgaria: Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United 2008-2012, Fulham 2012-2014)
Few Bulgarians to choose from but Berbatov is another clear winner, having picked up both the title and the Golden Boot in 2011.
5. Croatia: Luka Modric (Tottenham 2008-2012)
Yet another clear winner. Modric was magnificent at Tottenham and has been even better since moving to Spain.
6. Czech Republic: Petr Cech (Chelsea 2004-2015, Arsenal 2015-2019)
One of the best goalkeepers the league has seen and the obvious candidate for the Czech Republic, for the second decade running. Won the golden glove in 2010, 2014 and 2016. Peter Cech also has an interesting hobby, so more about it you can read here.
7. Denmark: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham 2013-2020)
Honourable mention: Kasper Schmeichel
Now at Inter Milan, Eriksen established himself at Tottenham as one of the world’s best attacking midfielders, making team of the season in 2018. Compatriot Kasper Schmeichel is a close second.
8. England: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United 2004-2017, Everton 2017-2018)
Honourable mention: Harry Kane
Wayne Rooney peaked in the early part of the decade, making a team of the season in 2010 and 2012, and is now the second highest scorer in the league’s history, with 208 goals. Rooney is one of the best Manchester United players ever. The rise of Kane in recent years is worth a mention as well though.
9. Estonia: Ragnar Klavan (Liverpool, 2016-2018)
Another country with extremely slim pickings, defender Ragnar Klavan did ok during his 2 year stay on Merseyside, without ever standing out too much.
10. Finland: Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton 1997-2012, West Ham 2012-2015)
Honourable mention: Teemu Pukki
Few Finns have played in England in recent years. Jaaskelainen’s long stay at Bolton came to an end with their relegation in 2012, although he did do a good job at West Ham for a couple of years afterwards. Compatriot Teemu Pukki also briefly became a cult hero in the final months of the decade.
11. France: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, 2012-)
Honourable mentions: N’golo Kante, Patrice Evra
The 2010’s were another decade filled to the brim with top-quality French footballers. For his remarkable talent and central role in transforming Spurs, Lloris narrowly pips the trophy-laden Kante and Evra to the honour of top French player.
12. Germany: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal, 2013-)
Honourable mention: Leroy Sane
It’s not always been smooth sailing for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal but his undeniable quality puts him as the top German of the decade, although we also can’t go without mentioning winger Leroy Sane in second place.
13. Greece: Jose Holebas (Watford, 2015-)
There have been a handful of Greek Premier League players in recent years and left-back Jose Holebas has been a reasonably strong player for Watford in the last few seasons.
14. Hungary: Zoltan Gera (Fulham 2008-2011, West Brom 2011-2014)
Hungary is another nation with few candidates to choose from, but Zoltan Gera was a solid squad player at Fulham and West Brom for a number of years.
15. Iceland: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City 2012, 2014-2017, Tottenham 2012-2014, Everton 2017-)
Gylfi Sigurdsson has certainly left an impressive mark on English football. A set piece specialist, a Swansea legend, and one of Iceland’s greatest ever.
16. Italy: Graziano Pelle (Southampton, 2014-2016)
Despite being one of the strongest footballing nations in the world, top quality Italian footballers in England have been relatively scarce in the past 10 years. I’ve gone for Graziano Pelle, who helped Southampton achieve two very impressive top 7 finishes.
17. Montenegro: Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City, 2013-2015)
Things didn’t quite work out for Stefan Jovetic at Manchester City, but he still enjoyed some impressive moments and a Premier League title win.
18. Netherlands: Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton 2015-2018, Liverpool 2018-)
Honourable mention: Robin Van Persie
Van Dijk and Van Persie are comfortably the two best Dutch players of the decade, and choosing between them was the most difficult decision in this whole article. UEFA Men’s Player of the Year 2018/19, Virgil Van Dijk just edges it, having been brilliant at Southampton and simply untouchable at Liverpool. VVD is probably one of the best defenders in Premier League in the last 10 years.
19. Northern Ireland: Jonny Evans (Manchester United 2006-2015, West Brom 2015-2018, Leicester City 2018-)
Honourable mention: Steven Davis
It’s no secret that Northern Ireland’s best footballers in recent years have been defenders. Fitting then, that centre back Jonny Evans should be chosen as the country’s Premier League player of the decade. Midfielder Steven Davis also deserves plaudits, having impressed for the Saints for several years.
20. Norway: Josh King (Bournemouth, 2015-)
Josh King has been relatively successful on the South Coast, even if his form does seem to peak and troth in alternating seasons. Nevertheless, the striker has played a massive role in helping to establish Bournemouth as a consistent top flight side.
21. Poland: Lukasz Fabianski (Arsenal 2007-2014, Swansea City 2014-2018, West Ham 2018-)
Much of Poland’s recent contribution to English Football has been concentrated in the area of goalkeepers. Fabianski is chief among these, having been a success at Swansea and now West Ham.
22. Portugal: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, 2017-)
Honourable mention: Nani
Whilst English football hasn’t had a Cristiano Ronaldo sized superstar in the last 10 years, Bernardo Silva was another successful Portuguese export who was magnificent towards the end of the decade. Runner up and fellow winger Nani was similarly impressive at the start of it.
23. Republic of Ireland: Seamus Coleman (Everton, 2009-)
A steady stream of Irish players have come and gone in the top flight throughout the 2010’s. Of these, Seamus Coleman has comfortably been the best and made Team of the Season in 2014.
24. Romania: Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City 2011-2014, Sunderland 2014-2016, Watford 2016-2017)
Slim pickings for Romania, although goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon enjoyed a reasonable career in the Premier League with Manchester City, Sunderland and Watford, even if he was mostly used as a backup. Also claimed a league winners medal at City.
25. Russia: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal, 2009-2013)
No Russian footballers have played in England’s top flight for several years, although there were a handful of them in the early years of the decade, and Arsenal man Arshavin was the pick of the bunch.
26. Scotland: Andrew Robertson (Hull City 2014-2015, 2016-2017, Liverpool 2017-)
Scotland’s contribution to top flight football was rather hit and miss during the 2010’s. Robertson has certainly been the strongest consistent performer, having developed into one of the world’s best fullbacks since arriving at Liverpool 3 summers ago.
27. Serbia: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea, 2008-2017)
Honourable mention: Nemanja Vidic
United legend Nemanja Vidic was on a slow downward slope from around 2012 onwards, so the prize for Serbia instead goes to Ivanovic, who was among the league’s most reliable defenders for a number of years. However, both Vidic and Ivanovic are the best Serbian football players who played in the Premier League.
28. Slovakia: Martin Skrtel (Liverpool, 2008-2016)
Honourable mention: Martin Dubravka
Martin Skrtel wins it comfortably for Slovakia, having been a mainstay of Liverpool’s backline for many years. Current Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka also deserves some well-earned recognition.
30. Slovenia: Robert Koren (Hull City, 2013-2014)
Koren spent most of his career in England in the championship, but registered 22 appearances and 2 goals in the 13/14 Premier League season.
31. Spain: David Silva (Manchester City, 2010-)
Honourable mentions: David De Gea, Cesar Azpilicueta
Silva and De Gea are both Premier League icons in their own right, making this another tough choice, Silva narrowly pips De Gea on account of being one of the finest midfielders this league has ever seen. Chelsea captain Azpilicueta also fully deserves to be in the mix.
32. Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United, 2016-2018)
Honourable mention: Jonas Olsson
Zlatan’s stay in England may have been brief, but his debut season at the age of 35 was truly exceptional. Jonas Olsson also had a strong Premier League career for West Brom for many years.
33. Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City 2015-2018, Liverpool 2018-)
Perhaps not the most consistent player in the world, but Shaqiri has shown flashes of his well-known brilliance throughout his Premier League career.
34. Ukraine: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City, 2016-)
There are, in fact, only two Ukrainians to choose from in this era of Premier League history. However, the versatile Zinchenko earns his place, having played an important role in City’s back to back title wins.
35. Wales: Gareth Bale (Tottenham, 2007-2013)
Honourable mention: Aaron Ramsey
Finally, from Wales there can only be one winner; Gareth Bale, who was one of the finest wingers in the league before his departure to Spain, and who stands amongst the Welsh all-time greats. Aaron Ramsey, who excelled for Arsenal for a long time, is our final honourable mention.
And there you have it, Europe’s finest throughout the entirety of the last decade. The 2020s has already seen the introduction of a brand new nationality into the Premier League’s record books (Tanzania – Mbwana Samatta), and in the coming years who knows what great footballers both Europe and the wider world will bring to these shores?