In the Premier League era we have been blessed with some of the world’s greatest footballing talent, and in recent years much of this talent has come from Spain. With the likes of Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and of course Newcastle legend, Xisco, gracing our shores. Here I have gone for a classic 4-2-3-1 tactic, which I’m sure would win this bunch a trophy or two.
Goalkeeper – David De Gea – What more can you say about David De Gea. Having slotted back in between the sticks after the ‘will he won’t he?’ transfer saga with Real Madrid over the summer, the shot stopper continues to show how crucial he is to Manchester United. A true sign of a world class goalkeeper is one who continually wins his team points over the course of the season. De Gea has achieved this feat countless times which is all the more impressive when you consider the mess he has had playing in front of him over the past two seasons. With back to back Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards in 2014 and 2015, De Gea could become the first ever Manchester United player to win the award three years in a row.
Right Back – Alvaro Arbeloa – A solid and dependable full back, not the most glamourous of player in this team, but not every name on the team sheet needs to be. Despite a trophy less three year spell in Liverpool, Arbeloa was part of one of the club’s most exciting sides in the Premier League era and if it wasn’t for Federico Macheda maybe he would have finished his time on Merseyside with a league title. Arbeloa went on to move to Real Madrid in 2009, as well as becoming an ever present in the national side’s most successful ever period.
Centre Back – Gerard Pique – Yes, I know he only made 12 Premier League appearances, never really looking likely to break the Ferdinand and Vidic partnership but when you consider what he’s achieved since making his move back to Barca it’s hard to put anyone else in this position. Four Champions Leagues, five La Ligas, three Copa Del Reys, three FIFA Club World Cups, one Premier League, one UEFA European Championship, oh and the small matter of a World Cup. Enough said.
Centre Back – Fernando Hierro – Being one of the most dominant players in football, it seems mad to think that this three time Champions League winner with 89 caps for Spain was once pitching up at Bolton every week under the tutelage of Sam Allardyce. For the 2004/05 season this was a reality for the Bolton faithful, where he made 29 appearances for The Trotters. At the age of 36 it seems pretty obvious his best days were behind him, but it’s not very often you get one of Europe’s most decorated players plying his trade here.
Left Back – Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea’s Mr Consistent, their very own Dennis Irwin. Azpilicueta has become one of the Premier League’s finest full backs since making the move to West London from Marseille in 2012. With Jose Mourinho once saying “a team of 11 Azpilicueta’s would probably win the Champions League”, it would be him who gradually ousted club legend Ashley Cole from the starting eleven. At just 26 years of age it looks like Chelsea have their left back slot sorted for the next few years.
Centre Mid – Santi Cazorla – Arsenal’s conductor, the man who controls their tempo. Cazorla has proved to be one of Arsenal’s most influential players and at just £10 million has proved to be an absolute bargain. A firm fans favourite in North London he went onto secure the club’s Player of the Year award in 2013. Although Sanchez and Ozil will continue to get the plaudits, it’s Cazorla that the Gunners can seldom do without.
Centre Mid – Xabi Alonso – Did Rafa Benitez try to sign Gareth Barry in place of Alonso? Whether this is fact or fiction god only knows but if true, it must be one of the strangest ideas hatched by a football manager in the fantastical world of the Premier League. Idolised by the Kop, Alonso went onto make 143 league appearances in a five year stay on Merseyside. Winning an FA Cup and of course the Champions League, scoring in the final in the most dramatic of games, which of course Liverpool fans like to remind us was the fifth time they had won the trophy. Since leaving England he has gone on to represent two of Europe’s biggest clubs in Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and winning another Champions League medal along the way.
Attacking Midfielder – Cesc Fabregas – One of the league’s most creative players, 93 assists to be precise, a former Arsenal hero and still the club’s youngest ever player, making his debut at the age of 16 and 177 days in 2003. Although just an FA Cup was won in an eight year spell in North London, Fabregas went on to become club captain aged just 21. Having left the Gunners in 2011 to return to his boyhood club, Barcelona, Fabregas returned to England three years later in a controversial transfer to Chelsea. Once idolised by the Arsenal faithful, this goodwill went straight out the window once the move was finalised. His first Premier League and League Cup titles were soon to follow in his debut season in West London, as well 18 assists from the Catalan, proving his importance to the Blues.
Left Winger – David Silva – Manchester City’s maestro and quite possibly their most important signing since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour. From the moment he made the move from Valencia to Manchester a case can be made that Silva has become the Premier League’s most important playmaker -possessing the ability to control the tempo of a game and glide past opponents at will. Propelling City to two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup in his five and a half years at the club to date, as well as notching up 35 goals and 56 assists and a place in the PFA team of the year in 2012.
Right Winger – Juan Mata – One of football’s good guys. Juan Mata first moved over here in 2011 in a £23.5 million move from Valencia to Chelsea. His first season was to prove extremely fruitful, with 12 goals in all competitions, he was to be crowned Chelsea’s Player of the Season in a historic year for the club, clinching the Champions League in dramatic circumstances for the first ever time, as well as the FA Cup. Mata’s second season would prove even more productive with 20 goals in 64 appearances. Although Chelsea would fall at the first hurdle in the Champions League, they would go onto to win the Europa League with the Spaniard being the catalyst behind the success. Mata would go on to secure his second successive Player of the Year award, cementing his status as Chelsea’s most influential player. After falling out of favour with the returning Jose Mourinho, he would move north to Manchester United in January 2014 for £37 million.
Striker – Fernando Torres – Despite his troubles following his £50 million move to Chelsea in 2011, it was a relatively straight forward choice to stick Torres upfront in this team. To put it simply he was close to unstoppable when at Liverpool. After his move from Atletico Madrid ‘El Nino’ took the Premier League by storm scoring 24 league goals for Liverpool in his first season and securing a place in the PFA Team of the Year in 2008. The next two full seasons proved just as productive scoring 32 league goals in 46 appearances and securing another spot in the 2009 Team of the Year. The Madrid born striker would end his stay at Liverpool with a highly impressive 65 goals in 102 league appearances. It would be the aftermath of injuries that would put pay to his exceptional goal scoring exploits, not opposition defenders.
Subs: Some great players that missed the XI but would be influential off the bench include: Pepe Reina, Ivan Campo, Hector Bellerin, Luis Garcia, Gaizka Mendieta, Jose Antonio Reyes and Diego Costa.