Who has the best touch in Premier League history?


The Premier League has been blessed with some of the finest technicians in Europe over the years.

Here GMS looks at ten of the best players with a first-touch to die for.

Robin Van Persie

United’s number 20 is a master of his art.

An advert for Coerver coaching, the former Arsenal captain is a perfect technician.

Despite not matching many of his contemporary target-men in terms of strength or speed, since 2011 his technique has elevated him to status as the supreme striker in England.

His sharp shooting is lethal with 37 goals (and counting) already for Manchester United, but his first touch and control are just as impressive.

Had he stayed at the Emirates, one suspects he would have gone on to attract increasingly strong comparisons to Dutch compatriot Dennis Bergkamp, but his goals at United helped secure their 20th English League title.

Mark Viduka

“Who?” A few younger fans, and older ones too, may question. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson being a keen admirer in the early 2000s, Viduka was never part of a title-winning side and may have never been a big name.

Yet few men in Premier League history could cushion a ball with the same deftness as the Australian striker.

Physically slow and arguably overweight, he was technically gifted and graceful.

In 2001, he was a key part of the exciting Leeds United side that strode into the Champions League semi-final.

A Manchester United move never materialised, and he played out the later years of his Premiership career at Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

People remember RVN for his goals. Van Nistelrooy lived for goals.

He scored 150 in 219 for Manchester United between 2001 and 2006.

Yet many fail to appreciate just how cultured Van Nistelrooy’s first touch was. Many of his famous finishes followed a masterful trap of the ball.

Whether welcoming a long ball from David Beckham onto his chest or caressing a Paul Scholes shot to a dead stop, Van Nistelrooy’s touch was always a fine example of technical proficiency.

It served to aid his efficiency in front of goal.

Mesut Ozil

A new arrival, yet a shoe in. Ozil’s touch is up there with anyone in world football right now.

Honed through pre-match indulgence with chewing gum, his first touch in games draws gasps from amazed fans.

There is a catalogue of moments of magic in Madrid where Ozil kills dead clearances and goal-kicks that seemed to have flown into space, before descending and landing still on his outstretched Mercurial Vapor.

The German International has revitalised Arsenal, and he glides into this list.

David Ginola

Because he’s worth it. For a smooth skinned, effeminately groomed, L’oreal model to be respected by his peers in the era of Vinnie Jones, Tony Adams, Dennis Wise etc, his talent had to be exceptional.

The 1999 PFA Player of the Year married grace, elegance, and skill on the pitch with a Gallic charisma not witnessed, or accepted, before and rarely again until Thierry Henry.

From 1995 onwards, his first touch preceded mazy dribbles that embarrassed Premiership defenders and thrilled the fans of first Newcastle and then Tottenham.

Questions over his fitness and arguments with managers overshadowed his performances at Aston Villa and Everton, as his career drew to an end in 2002.

Gianfranco Zola

Before Roman Abramovich’s billions bought Premier and Champions League titles, attracted a hoard of expensive players and managers, and seduced a new generation of Chelski fans, Zola was Mr Chelsea.

Maradona’s apprentice from his time at Napoli,  he arrived in England from Parma in 1996.

The manner in which his technique and touch outwitted his larger opponents paved the way for the Juan Mata's and Oscars of today.

A consummate professional, his dedication to practising his skills had a major influence on a young Frank Lampard, and practice definitely made perfect.

Gianfranco was a genius with a glorious touch.

Matthew Le Tissier

In name and style, Le Tissier never seemed like an Englishman.

The Chanel Islander and Southampton legend was one of many England attackers in the 1990s whose opportunities were limited by the presence of Alan Shearer.

In contrast to the archetype recently presented by Jack Wilshere, Le God rarely ran hard or tackled hard. He never had to.

His boots seemed equipped with a magnet that drew the ball into his grasp, and that was where it stayed.

In his exhaustive collection of stunning goals, many feature impudent spells of juggling - the most famous coming against Newcastle.

Eric Cantona

Collar up. Arms raised. “Ohh Ahh Cantona!”

For a 90s kid, King Eric is as emblematic of the era as Nickelodeon and Nintendo 64.

The catalyst for Manchester United’s emergence as the premier team in the newly-founded Premier League, he boasted an array of attributes.

His charisma, leadership, and goal scoring exploits were matched in brilliance by his delightful first touch.

From measured take downs with the laces to audacious bounces off his back heel, he could control any ball in any way that he wished.

Having won the old First Division for Leeds, he helped Sir Alex Ferguson claim four titles and two FA Cups before his shock retirement in 1997. I

nfamous for his kung fu kick on a Wimbledon fan, he is celebrated for his technique.

Dimitar Berbatov

For a picture of composure, calmness and control, look no further than Berbatov. Whilst the lazy genius’ overall performances for Manchester United could at times be criticised for lacking effort, they were always abundant in skill.

From the moment he first arrived in the Premiership, with a £10.9 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, he has always demonstrated a subtle touch.

Berbatov is capable of taming even the most wild and powerful passes or shots with an air of ease and true control. The best first touch currently on show in the league.

Dennis Bergkamp

The non-flying Dutchman was always going to be number one.

A true genius and artist in his mastery and use of control.

Starring for Arsenal in the 1990s, he married sumptuous technique with an ice cold temperament.

Bergkamp is defined by his first touch more than any player in history and it features in all of his greatest highlights. The majestic control of a 60 yard pass before scoring against Argentina in 1998, the bamboozling juggle against Leicester to complete a hattrick in 1997, and that delicious slice and spin against Newcastle in 2001.

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