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Top 10 Premier League midfielders of the decade

Sports Mole counts down the top 10 Premier League midfielders of the decade, including Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool legends.

As another memorable decade of Premier League action comes to an end, it provides the perfect opportunity to reminisce about some of the greatest players to have graced the league over the past 10 years.

It is a period which has seen Manchester City rise back to the top of English football, winning their first title for 44 years in 2012 and going on to add three more Premier League crowns over the course of the decade.

Chelsea lifted the trophy on three occasions while Manchester United took their record tally up to 20 before suffering a dramatic decline following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The most remarkable of successes came from Leicester City, though, as Claudio Ranieri's Foxes overcame 5,000-1 odds to win the title in 2015-16 - one of the greatest sporting stories of all time.

Here, Sports Mole chooses its 10 best Premier League midfielders from the last 10 years.

10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Steven Gerrard pictured in 2014© Reuters

One of the Premier League's greatest ever midfielders, it is safe to say that Steven Gerrard's best years came before the start of the decade. However, there were plenty of highlights post-2010, including becoming Liverpool's longest-serving captain, scoring his 100th league goal and surpassing 500 Premier League appearances - only the third player to ever achieve that feat with a single club.

Gerrard also took the Reds to within a whisker of the title in 2013-14 and, while the closing stages of that campaign will forever be remembered for his unfortunate and infamous slip against Chelsea, that should not overshadow a season which saw him score 13 league goals and create a division-high 13 more to earn his record eighth selection in the PFA Team of the Year.

9. Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Dele Alli celebrates scoring the opener for Spurs on November 30, 2019© Reuters

One of the great modern-day Premier League bargains, Tottenham Hotspur snapped Dele Alli up from MK Dons for just £5m in February 2015 and, by the end of that year, he had established himself as a regular for both Spurs and England. Alli made the step up from League One look simple, scoring 28 league goals over the course of his first two seasons in the top flight.

Those exploits helped to earn him back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards in 2015-16 and 2016-17, while he was also included in the PFA Team of the Year for both of those campaigns. Club silverware has so far eluded him, but he is very much back at the forefront of Tottenham's charge under Jose Mourinho.

8. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen reacts on December 4, 2019© Reuters

Another prudent signing from Spurs, Christian Eriksen moved to the Premier League from Ajax for just £11m in 2013 and has established himself as one of the division's leading playmakers since. One of only two players, along with David Beckham, to have recorded 10 or more assists in four successive Premier League seasons, the Dane played a major role in Tottenham's transformation into title contenders during the second half of the decade.

Eriksen missed only nine Premier League games throughout a five-season spell from 2014-15 to 2018-19 and has twice been named Tottenham's player of the year, in addition to making the PFA Team of the Year in 2017-18.

7. Michael Carrick (Manchester United)

Michael Carrick pictured for Manchester United in 2017© Reuters

Often an underrated presence in the Manchester United midfield during his playing days, Carrick spent 12 seasons at Old Trafford and helped the club to five Premier League titles, including two this decade. The Englishman's importance to the team was perhaps most evident when he was not in it, and without his ability to dictate the tempo of play the Red Devils may have fared even worse following Ferguson's departure.

The peak of Carrick's career came during United's most recent title success in 2012-13, when he was named in the PFA Team of the Year as well as being voted as the club's player of the year by his teammates.

6. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Philippe Coutinho pictured for Liverpool in 2017© Reuters

Another midfield bargain buy from the decade, Liverpool signed Philippe Coutinho for just £8.5m in January 2013 before selling him on for £142m five years later. The meteoric rise in price was a reflection of how well he performed at Anfield, having helped to drag the club back from a low point in its recent history around the turn of the decade.

The Brazilian was instrumental as Liverpool only narrowly missed out on the title in 2013-14, but his best season arguably came the following year when he was named in the PFA Team of the Year and picked up both the Liverpool Fans' and Players' Player of the Year awards. Coutinho left for Barcelona having scored 41 goals in 152 Premier League appearances.

5. Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho in action during the EFL Cup final against Chelsea on February 24, 2019© Reuters

It is only really in the last couple of seasons that Fernandinho's importance to Man City has become widely appreciated, although his managers - most recently Pep Guardiola - have never been in doubt about his significance. A regular from the moment he joined the club in 2013, Fernandinho did the dirty work while those in front of him stole the headlines, and for much of this season he has filled in admirably as an emergency centre-back.

The Brazilian has been part of three title-winning teams, although it arguably took his absence from the side through injury for a brief spell last season to really underline his influence. Fernandinho went on to be named in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time in 2018-19 as Man City retained the Premier League crown.

4. Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea, Manchester City)

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their first goal on November 23, 2019© Reuters

Chelsea's loss has very much been Man City's gain when it comes to Kevin De Bruyne, with the London club disposing of him after only three Premier League appearances before City brought him back to England in 2015. Now regarded as arguably the best player in the league and certainly the chief playmaker, De Bruyne has been central to Man City reaching heights never before seen in English football.

The Belgian is a two-time Premier League winner and topped the assists charts in 2016-17 and 2017-18, as well as leading the way again this term. Included in the PFA Team of the Year for 2017-18, De Bruyne's impact at City has been so great that he may have been even higher up this list had he not spent much of the 2018-19 campaign out injured.

3. Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

Yaya Toure in action for Manchester City on May 9, 2018© Reuters

Before De Bruyne became the driving force of the Man City midfield, that role fell on the broad shoulders of Yaya Toure, whose arrival in 2010 helped the club to make the final step up to serial trophy winners. Perhaps underappreciated at Barcelona, Toure soon became a dominant force in the Premier League with his powerful runs from midfield.

A devastating box-to-box player at his peak, Toure was nigh-on unstoppable during the 2013-14 campaign especially, scoring 20 league goals as City won the title. The Ivory Coast international was named in the PFA Team of the Year for that campaign as well as the victorious 2011-12 season, while he added a third league winner's medal to his collection in 2017-18 before leaving that summer.

2. N'Golo Kante (Leicester City, Chelsea)

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante scores the opening goal in his side's EFL Cup semi-final second leg with Tottenham Hotspur on January 24, 2019© Reuters

N'Golo Kante began the decade being passed up by a host of professional clubs while still at youth team JS Suresnes in the suburbs of Paris, but he ends it as a World Cup winner and one of the best in his position on the planet. Such a rise could not have been predicted even when he joined Leicester in 2015, although just one year later his quality and influence was clear to see.

Kante was an instrumental part of Leicester's incredible title triumph during his debut season at the King Power Stadium, before leaving for Chelsea and winning the title with them the following campaign - the first player since Eric Cantona in 1993 to win back-to-back top-flight titles with different clubs.

The Frenchman was named in the PFA Team of the Year both seasons and also scooped the PFA Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season awards for 2016-17, having been in very close contention for them the previous campaign too.

1. David Silva (Manchester City)

Manchester City midfielder David Silva in action during the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 14, 2019© Reuters

Having joined in the same transfer window as Yaya Toure, David Silva will crown a full decade of midfield mastery in Manchester when he leaves at the end of this season. The Spaniard has been an instrumental figure in all four of City's title-winning teams in the Premier League era, although the true measure of his influence may not be felt until he leaves.

Silva cannot boast single title-winning moments like Sergio Aguero or Vincent Kompany, nor can any of his individual seasons be earmarked as particularly outstanding like Toure, but his genius is in the consistently world-class level of performance.

Named in the PFA Team of the Year for the victorious 2011-12 and 2017-18 seasons, Silva was also voted the Man City Players' Player of the Year in 2011-12 and the club's player of the season in 2016-17.

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