The English Premier League is the most popular football league in the world and attracts some of the best players on the planet. But over the past decade or so, some of the world’s most exceptional talents have resisted the lure of England and developed their legendary status elsewhere.
Here's a look at five players who would have, and perhaps some who still could, captivate football fans worldwide in the most watched league on Earth.
The Brazilian legend is a rare player whom is virtually impossible to dislike. Always playing with a smile on his face, Ronaldinho was a playmaking genius, free-kick specialist, clinical finisher, and undoubtedly the world’s best player during his peak at Barcelona.
At the top of his game he carried an air of immense expectation that he would do something special every time he touched the ball. The former PSG, Barcelona and Milan superstar fascinated football fans with his brilliantly effortless skill, beating players seemingly at will with his faultless ball control and unrivalled imagination.
There is no denying that he no longer possesses the physical capabilities he once did, but on his return to Brazil with Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro, the 32-year-old has certainly proved that his unmatched technique and elite vision will never fade.
Ronaldinho is a unique talent that has mesmerised every football fan at some point throughout his career and although he may lack the speed and endurance of his younger days, could the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year still pull the strings in the Premier League?
In 2011, Zidane was voted the best ever player to participate in UEFA Champions League’s according to the official UEFA magazine. Ranked above the likes of Lionel Messi and Paolo Maldini, the achievement is a testament to the sheer genius of the former France international.
Although he stands at 185cm, the Frenchman’s physical stature is not what made him such a handful for defenders. ‘Zizou’ could quite literally do whatever he wanted with the ball, and combined with his impeccable awareness and vision, the former France international nearly always kept possession with an intelligent pass or crafty turn away from his marker(s).
If there were a single moment that could summarise Zidane’s pure class, it would be his flawless weak-foot volley against Bayern Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.
Even at 40-years-old he is probably still capable of a bit of magic, but Zinedine Zidane at his peak would have been an absolute privilege to witness in the Premier League.
Without a doubt, the Brazilian free-kick master pioneered the role of the modern wingback. Boasting lightning speed, endless stamina and a desire to bomb up and down the left side, Roberto Carlos at the peak of his career would easily stand out as one of the top players in the world today.
Many current players in his position try to emulate the former Real Madrid star, but none can quite measure up to the complete package offered by the former Brazil international – Roberto Carlos could do it all.
Despite technically being a defender, the 39-year-old is perhaps most famous for the truly marvellous goals he has scored for the Seleção and his impressive list of top European clubs. The stocky Brazilian has been credited with scoring a scientifically ‘impossible goal’, not to mention his ‘banana’ free-kick against France in 1997.
Roberto Carlos was a formidable opponent for right-sided players throughout his career. Recognised as the perfect attacking fullback, the world is yet to witness a player quite as phenomenal as the man with tree-trunks thighs.
Since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009, the once-unstoppable Kaká has deteriorated due to sporadic opportunities to recapture his best form in a Real Madrid side brimming with world-class talent.
The legendary Pelé once declared: "To me, Kaka is the best player in the world, because he is the most complete player. I see him a notch above Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo."
The 30-year-old certainly was previously one of the best in the world, winning the 2007 Champions League with Milan and taking out the competitions Golden Boot award with 10 goals from midfield.
Few players can be held in the same regard as the former Milan midfielder at the height of his career, and it is a shame that he has spent his peak years only occasionally showing flashes of his old superb self.
The Brazilian appears to be an expendable asset to the Spanish giants, so is there a chance Kaká could finish his playing days in the Premier League?
Alongside David Beckham, Ronaldo is possibly the most well known name in football. Before his incredible career turned ugly, ‘Il Fenomeno’ was unquestionably one of the greatest strikers the world has ever seen.
The former PSV, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan player was literally unstoppable at the top of his game. Searing pace, powerfully built, an incredible dribbler and clinical finisher, Ronaldo had it all.
The ex-Brazil international was the most-feared footballer on the planet throughout most of his career. The prolific forward scored 280 goals in 384 club appearances, and a remarkable 62 goals in 98 caps for the Seleção.
Finding the net wherever he played, Ronaldo at his peak would even shiver the spines of Vincent Kompany and Nemanja Vidic in the Premier League today. Imagine what he could have done to the less athletic markers in England during his era....
Could Ronaldinho or Kaká still have an impact playing in England’s top flight? Who else do you wish played in the English Premier League at some point during their career?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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