Saint-Maximin, Rice, Coutinho: Premier League's 10 best players outside 'big six' ranked

Who are the best players in the Premier League that don’t play for one of the traditional ‘big six’ clubs?

It’s a question that’s been on many people’s lips this past weekend after Newcastle’s spectacular 3-3 home draw to Manchester City.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimaraes both rose to the fore and put in resounding performances yet again for the Magpies.

Which has got many fans questioning where they rank amongst the league’s best.

Now, it goes without saying that simply ranking the top 10 players in the Premier League would be full of players from Liverpool, Man City and the historically big spenders that make up the big six.

However, if you remove those clubs from the equation, then things have the potential to get plenty more interesting.

Is West Ham’s Declan Rice the finest operator from the remaining Premier League teams? Or has Guimaraes done enough to stamp his authority and surpass his midfield counterpart?

Is Jamie Vardy still worthy of a top 10 pick at the ripe old age of 35? Check out our findings below.

Ranking the 10 best players outside the traditional ‘big six’

10. Ruben Neves

The 25-year-old Portuguese star waved goodbye to Wolves fans at the end of last season and it was firmly believed that he would be moving on to pastures new.

But, alas, here we are, three games into the new season and he’s still sporting the orangey gold colours of the black country club.

Bruno Lage will no doubt be thankful for that given the calibre of player Neves is.

His wide-ranging passing ability combined with his keenness for a tackle makes him an exceptional asset in the middle of the park.

Oh, and he’s partial to the odd 30-yard worldie too – which never hurts.

Ruben Neves

9. Youri Tielemans

Another deep-lying playmaker that many expected to be on the move this summer, it seemed like Tielemans was destined for Arsenal, but for whatever reason, the move hasn’t yet materialised.

With his contract expiring in the summer of 2023, you can bet that there’ll be plenty of top clubs circling for the Belgium international come January.

And even though he didn’t enjoy a vintage campaign last time out by his lofty standards, still just 25, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the man yet.

Youri Tielemans
Youri Tielemans

8. Joelinton

Maybe the greatest decision of Eddie Howe’s Newcastle tenure to date was swapping Joelinton from a struggling forward to an all-action midfielder.

After signing from Hoffenheim for £39.6 million, the Brazilian found goals near impossible to come by and was quickly becoming the brunt of many a Twitter meme.

But after being moved into the midfield, Joelinton’s transformation has made him a near unrecognisable player.

He even won Newcastle’s Player of the Season award for 2021/2022 thanks to his stellar performances.


7. Wilfried Zaha

Zaha scored a beauty of a goal in Crystal Palace’s away draw at Anfield which just demonstrated how good a player he is.

In typical Zaha fashion, he used his blistering pace to get away from his opponent before opening his body up and curling the ball just inside the far post.

When on form, the Ivorian is undoubtedly one of the most devastating players in the league.

Wilfried Zaha

6. James Maddison

The Englishman has started this season like a house on fire, even if the same can’t be said for his team.

Two goals and an assist from his opening three matches makes for very, very promising viewing if you happen to be a fan of the Foxes.

And there’ll be hoping he can steer the club back in the right direction after a pretty uninspiring 2021/2022 season.

Maddison will no doubt also have his eyes set on making a last ditch attempt to secure a spot in England’s upcoming World Cup squad.

James Maddison
WATFORD, ENGLAND – MAY 15: James Maddison of Leicester City passes the ball during the Premier League match between Watford and Leicester City at Vicarage Road on May 15, 2022 in Watford, England. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

5. Phillipe Coutinho

Coutinho, once a sensation at Liverpool and one of the league’s top ballers, endured a earth-shattering downturn in form after leaving the Reds.

However, on returning to the Premier League via Aston Villa, the ‘little magician’ managed to restore his reputation thanks to some outstanding early form.

Five goals and three assists across 16 appearances isn’t groundbreaking returns by any means, but if he can regain his initial form for the Villains, then they’ll surely own the very best player in the league based outside the big six.

Phillipe Coutinho
Soccer Football – Pre Season Friendly – Stade Rennes v Aston Villa – Roazhon Park, Rennes, France – July 30, 2022 Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

4. Jarrod Bowen

Harry Kane (26) was the only Englishman to be involved in more goals than Bowen (22) last campaign.

The right-winger was something of a sensation for the Hammers, culminating in him getting his first England call-up from Gareth Southgate.

If he continues in the same vein of form this season it would surely be a crime not to select him as part of the Three Lions’ World Cup squad.

West Ham's Bowen
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United celebrates after scoring their side’s second goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton at London Stadium on April 03, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

3. Allan Saint-Maximin

If you watched Saint-Maximin tear City apart at the weekend then you could be forgiven for thinking he’s the best player in the entire league.

The Frenchman was simply scintillating and even had Pep Guardiola eluding to how “dangerous” he was in his post-match interview.

He’s really improved since joining the Magpies in 2019 and has certainly added some much improved end product to his game.

The one issue looming over Saint-Maximin now, though, is consistency.

If he can perform the way he did against City week in, week out, he’s comfortably one of the best players in Europe.

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League

2. Declan Rice

You could argue Rice, alongside Jude Bellingham, is the most hyped English footballer right now and to be honest, it’s easy to understand why.

The West Ham captain is seemingly progressing with each passing game week and has added facets to his game that he previously lacked.

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For example, last season Rice ranked amongst the Premier League leaders for progressive ball carries which de-bunks the myth that he’s poor in possession.

Whilst his tally of five goals equals the total of his three seasons before that combined.

Declan Rice
Soccer Football – Pre Season Friendly – Luton Town v West Ham United – Kenilworth Road, Luton, Britain – July 23, 2022 West Ham’s Declan Rice Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

1. Bruno Guimaraes

It’s no mere coincidence that Newcastle’s second half of last season was so good, they signed Guimaraes in January and his impact was instantaneous.

Since arriving at St James’ Park, Guimaraes has led the Premier League for duels won, tackles made and fouls won, proving just how effective he is across the board in the Magpies’ engine room.

It’s no surprise Mikel Arteta was reportedly seriously keen on securing his services before he made the switch to the north-east club.

But with Newcastle taking big strides in comparison to the rest of the league, it seems Guimaraes could be the central cog in the Tyneside revolution that’s about to take place in English football.

Bruno Guimarares
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