Salah, Pogba, Van Dijk: The Premier League's most technically-gifted XI

  • Kobe Tong

The Premier League is widely regarded as the best league in the world because of one word and one word only: entertainment.

The thrills and spills of highest-scoring games and upsets you never saw coming are exactly why England’s top-flight is broadcast to millions of people around the world baying for popcorn-worthy drama.

Even when the Premier League hasn’t necessarily boasted the best players in the world, it’s still never been short of the type of ballers that bring fans to their feet and TV viewers to the edge of their seat.

Defining a ‘baller’

Besides, as much as we might love players with the ruthless efficiency of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski, there’s a time and a place for players who simply turn on the style.

You catch our drift, right? The sort of Ronaldinho-type footballers who might well be the most technically gifted in the business regardless of whether or not they produce Ballon d’Or-worthy numbers.

And while we’re not claiming for a single second that anyone comes close to Ronaldinho in the Premier League right now, there are certainly plenty of players who fit into that ‘baller’ specification.

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Let’s start easy: What was Tottenham’s old ground called?

Picking the Premier League’s biggest ballers

As such, here at GIVEMESPORT, we wanted to take on the interesting and entertaining task of naming who we consider to be the most technically-gifted footballers in the Premier League right now.

Although we’re sure many of you are picking up a vibe from the point we’re trying to make here, we’re going to make our criteria for ‘technically gifted’ as clear as possible seeing as every Premier League footballer is obviously supremely talented.

The moral of the story being that we’re talking about ballers who have an inordinately high propensity for mastering and calling upon skills with particularly high difficulty, flair and entertainment factors.

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So, while players like N’Golo Kante are unquestionably technically gifted, they don’t necessarily fit the criteria that we’re looking for today where fans-on-their-feet tropes are the currency.

The Premier League’s most technically-gifted XI

But enough with the disclaimers because we’ve got 11 ballers to work our way through, so be sure to check out our picks for the most technically-gifted XI in the Premier League down below:

GK: Ederson (Manchester City)

Our choice between the sticks came down to one criterion alone: who would be the biggest baller if they actually played outfield? Well, try as Alisson Becker might, that title still goes to Ederson.

While his Brazilian teammate might have the upper hand with, well, his hands, Ederson is the top dog when it comes to first touches, passes, dribbles and even headers that you’d never expect from a shot-stopper.

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RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Like, duh. Alexander-Arnold is so technically gifted on the defensive flank that he’s essentially reimagined what it’s possible for a full-back to achieve, churning out assists at a mind-blowing rate.

It says it all that some fans think the Liverpool star could do a job in midfield because his stunning crosses and diagonal balls mean that he’s only 12 Premier League assists behind Paul Scholes at just 23 years old.

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Even if you think that Nemanja Vidic, John Terry and so on were better Premier League defenders overall, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that any centre-half in the competition’s history has been as complete as Van Dijk.

The Liverpool general has turned one-on-one defending into the sort of artsy and entertaining skill that we’re looking for in our XI and that’s before we get on to the badass first touches and Steven Gerrard-like passes.

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CB: Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur)

Truth be told, the second centre-back position was one of the hardest to choose and John Stones, who is well-known for his technical ability on the ball, deserves a special shoutout for only just falling short.

Nevertheless, we’re somewhat besotted with what Romero has brought to the Premier League with his happiness to dribble out from the back and general classiness on the ball making him so easy on the eye.

LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

What can’t this man do? Aside from traversing the right-back and left-back positions like there’s absolutely no difference at all, you get the feeling that Cancelo could also thrive as a winger or centre forward.

An underrated defensive engine serves as a foundation for the intricate dribbling, stunning long shots, lethal crosses and metronomic passing that makes Cancelo one of the first names on our team sheet.

Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Manchester City v Paris St Germain – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – November 24, 2021 Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo in action Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

RM: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

There was serious competition out wide because wingers are some of the most technically-gifted players in the business, but even ballers like Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Kai Havertz and Philippe Coutinho can’t quite make the cut.

And that’s because Salah is currently head and shoulders above the rest in world football with his Manchester City and Watford wonder goals telling you everything you need to know about his technical prowess.

CM: Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool)

The man who makes footballing hipsters throw their cappuccinos in the air in sheer disbelief when he completes a five-yard pass, Thiago is a timeless footballer who could add pure class to any era of the game.

With no-look passes from one end of the pitch to the other and a trademark skill move of gorgeous simplicity, Liverpool have their hands on yet another member of the Premier League’s finest ballers.

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CM: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Does anyone in the Premier League fit the definition of ‘technically-gifted’ better? Look, Silva might not be the best player in the division, though he’s not far off, but he really does make football seem scarily easy.

There are just moments where the Portuguese ace decides that enough is enough and embarks upon a superglue dribble where attempting to dispossess him is like trying to catch a salmon between your knees.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Another player who just had to be chosen. De Bruyne might not whip out roulettes and step-overs in the traditional sense of a technically-gifted player, but his playmaking wizardry is just something else.

The double PFA Players’ Player of the Year award winner has one of the greatest footballing brains of the modern era that allows him to pick out some of the craziest passes and assists in Premier League history.

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LM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

When Pogba is playing his best football, you can probably count on two hands how many players there are better than him because the United star has it in his legs to produce truly superhuman performances.

With long-range passing that defies physics and outrageous touches that riff on Zinedine Zidane, Pogba’s peak powers are something to be feared and it’s just a shame that we don’t see them more often.

ST: Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle United)

The closest thing that Mike Ashley football ever came to Lionel Messi, Saint-Maximin truly is thrill-a-minute with the type of take-on-all-comers dribbling that reminds you why football is called the beautiful game.

Does he run down cul-de-sacs half the time? Yes. Does he lack the end product to become truly top-class? Yes, but you’re simply not human if Saint-Maximin’s technical wizardry doesn’t blow you away.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 20: Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brentford at St. James Park on November 20, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

So. Much. Entertainment.

Oh my goodness me. Can you just imagine the entertainment?

In a crazy, crazy world where these 11 players actually shared a team sheet, the tickets would be going for obscene amounts of money because the skill moves, flair and pure talent on display would be incomprehensible.

From Saint-Maximin whipping out one thousand step-overs to Salah dribbling past every man and their dog, it’s fair to say that the Premier League’s most-technically gifted XI would be an entertaining one.

However, rest assured that our opinion isn’t the only one and certainly not the definitive one, so be sure to let us know which Premier League ballers bring you to your feet most often across our social channels.

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