Ronaldo, Hazard, Modric: The top 10 ballers of the Premier League era have been ranked

The top 10 ballers of the Premier League

Whether you're young or old, old or new, football fans have been lucky enough to witness some real top class 'ballers' over the last 20 years or so show what they can do in the Premier League

Cesc Fabregas, Heung-Min Son, Mo Salah, the list goes on. 

But when it comes to separating the best from the rest, that can be prove to be quite a headache, especially when fans are forced to put their club loyalties to one side. 

Thankfully, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards have put together a definitive list of the on the latest Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast so we don't have to. 

Agree or disagree with their selection? Let us know in the comments!

10. Georgi Kinkladze, formerly of Manchester City

Georgi Kinkladze only played one season in the Premier League

A surprise inclusion on the list given the fact that he actually only played one season in the Premier League, but a worthy mention nonetheless. 

Richards: "He was good at jinking, had a great touch, the way he used to drop his shoulder - but the rest of this list have played at the top for a bit longer."

9. Dimitri Payet, formerly of West Ham

Payet, 34, scored 12 goals in his first season with West Ham

Payet, 34, scored 12 goals and was nominated for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in his first season with West Ham.

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Richards: "He scored some superb free-kicks. I played against Payet and he used to just get in the little areas and was technically very good."

Shearer: "In the end, the West Ham fans didn't like him because he left in a bit of a cloud. He's done well to get on this list, I think Joe Cole should've been on here!"

8. Jay-Jay Okocha, formerly of Bolton Wanderers

Jay-Jay Okocha scores against Liverpool

While it is hardly a surprise to see Okocha's name mentioned, the fact that he is ranked so low on this list will certainly raise a few eyebrows.

Lineker: "You wouldn't think he'd be a Big Sam [Allardyce] type of player really. What was he doing at Bolton?"

Shearer: "Sam had that reputation for bringing in these players in the latter stages of their careers - I remember when he got Sam to do a dance in a game."

7. Juninho, formerly of Middlesbrough 

Juninho helped Middlesbrough win the League Cup in 2004, their first and only major trophy

A native of Brazil, Juninho helped Middlesbrough win the League Cup in 2004, their first and only major trophy. 

Lineker: "Diminutive but super silky."

Shearer: "Close control, he would run at players and plenty would try to knock him off balance. When you go through this list of players, they all have great balance, but that's the one thing that Juninho was brilliant at - running with the ball, balance and technique. It's just a shame he was doing it with Middlesbrough!"

6. Luka Modric, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur

Luka Modric celebrates after scoring

Modric famously won the Ballon d'Or in 2018, the first player outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to do so since 2007.

Shearer: "I can't believe you have him in ninth, that's a big call."

Richards: "I wouldn't associate him with the 'sauce' or tricks and flairs. He's a technician, a passer. He had some good close control but I think there's better on the list."

5. Eden Hazard, formerly of Chelsea

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While his move to Real Madrid hasn't worked out quite as well as he had hoped, Eden Hazard's seven-year stint at Chelsea will live long in the memory.  

Richards: "Some of the stuff he used to do....there was that goal against Arsenal when he just ran the whole pitch and someone tried to barge him off the ball and just went spinning. When I played against him you'd think you'd got him and then he'd just go the other way - so sharp and strong. He is the epitome of a baller in my opinion."

4. Gianfranco Zola, formerly of Chelsea

Gianfranco Zola runs at the Liverpool defence

Known only as 'Magic Box' by the Stamford Bridge faithful, this diminutive wizard terrorised defences during his seven years at Chelsea, earning a reputation as one of the best players ever to have pulled on the blue jersey.

Richards: "This is what we mean when we're talking about a baller - everything about him - free-kicks, corners, the way he strikes a ball."

Shearer: "Unbelievable - what a footballer."

3. Paul Gascoigne, formerly of Everton and Middlesbrough 

Paul Gascoigne is perhaps the most flawed genius of them all

Perhaps the most flawed genius of them all, Paul Gascoigne was as famous for his exploits on the pitch as he was off it. 

Shearer: "He took risks, on and off the pitch. Raw, natural talent - he didn't have to work at it, he could do everything with a football."

Lineker: "Except give it to you! The only time he'd give you the ball is when he knew you had no choice but to give it him straight back. He'd beat four men and then lose it to the fifth, but then he'd do something special that would win you the game."

2. Matt le Tissier, formerly of Southampton 

Le Tissier is the second-highest ever scorer for Southampton behind Mick Channon

A one-club man in every definition of the term, Le Tissier spent his entire professional career with Southampton, scoring over 150 goals in 443 appearances across all competitions. He was also the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League. 

Shearer: "To me, a baller is also someone who scores outrageous goals from all sorts of angles. Unbelievable skill, flicking it onto your chest, banging goals in from 30 yards. Someone who does a bit of everything, great technique, run with the ball, left foot and right foot, can beat people and do tricks. Le Tissier could do all of those things. He didn't care a jot whether he lost the ball. It was all natural - flicks, tricks, chests, volleys, you name it he could do all of those things."

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo in his first spell at Old Trafford

Who else? Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, there could surely only ever be one winner. 

Richards: "With Ronaldo, you could never do anything to gain an advantage. If you showed him on his left foot he'd go round you. If you showed him on his right foot he'd come inside. He tried to humiliate you every time he got the ball - the whole package. He's got all the sauce, too much sauce!"

Shearer: "He did have too much sauce when he was at Manchester United the first time - too many flicks and tricks and he wouldn't cross it when he should've done. But you have to have Ronaldo at number one."

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