In my last article, I discussed the top relegation candidates in the Premier League. That got a lot of interest, but since some people are more interested at races for first place, they might be looking at other leagues to watch. If that’s you or if you simply want to branch out, here are the best former Premier League players in each of Europe’s top leagues.
(This list is based on current form rather than the form they were in when they were in the Premier League, but if you would like to see an article like that, please let me know in the comments.)
Belgium (Jupiler Pro League)
Nacer Chadli, Anderlecht
Anderlecht have some of the most former Premier League players, including former Manchester City captain Vincent Company, but it has been a disappointing year. They have struggled and are in eighth in the Jupiler Pro League, and controversy has surrounded another former Manchester City player, Samir Nasri. However, Nacer Chadli, who is on loan to Anderlecht from French club AS Monaco, has been huge for Anderlecht with eight goals and five assists in seventeen games. Chadli played in the Premier League as recently as the 2017/18 season with West Brom, but that season was a disaster as West Brom finished last and were relegated, and Chadli was sold to Monaco. Before his stint in West Brom, Chadli had played 119 games for Tottenham Hotspurs, scoring 25 and chipping in for 16 assists.
France (Ligue 1)
Islam Slimani, AS Monaco
This could just as easily be former Manchester United player Angel Di Maria, who has contributed to five more goals as PSG won the league in a shortened season, but Slimani wins as he grabbed nine goals and seven assists in eight fewer games than Di Maria. He has missed ten games due to three separate injuries this season and has reportedly just been released by AS Monaco, but he was impressive and helped Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder to eighteen goals. Slimani was huge in helping AS Monaco recover from a dreadful 2018/19 season that saw Monaco finish just two points above Ligue 1 relegation. Monaco finished the season in 8th place after rising as high as 5th place two games before the league was closed. He played two seasons for Leicester City, one of which in Leicester’s hangover season in which they finished in 12th place the year after finishing 1st. Leicester have attempted to rid themselves of him since then, as he played four games on loan for Newcastle United in 2017/18 and was also loaned out to Fenerbahce and then Monaco. Monaco terminated his loan, so technically he is back in the Premier League but since the French season has ended already he counts.
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund
Whilst Serge Gnabry made a great case for himself, Jadon Sancho has been superb for Borussia Dortmund this season with seventeen goals and seventeen assists. He loses some credit seeing as he was unable to carry Dortmund past a brilliant Bayern Munich team, but just like last season Dortmund were at least closer than usual to first. Sancho was one of the first English teens to make the move from England to Germany, but has since then inspired several others, such as Ademola Lookman, Jonjoe Kenny and Reece Oxford. Despite playing for Manchester City at youth team level, Sancho joins the long list of Manchester United transfer targets, which includes Sancho, teammate Erling Haaland, Thiago Almada, Jack Grealish, and, of course, Jack Grealish’s hair.
Greece (Super League)
Chuba Akpom, PAOK
It seems fitting that one of the most underrated leagues in the world has one of the most underrated players in the world in former Arsenal player Chuba Akpom. Akpom surprisingly played in just twelve of Arsenal’s games, bagging two assists, despite being at the club for five years, playing fifty games for the Arsenal U23s, and scoring thirty-three goals in those games. On loan for Hull City in the Championship in the 2015/16 season, he played in thirty-five games and helped Hull City earn promotion. However, just like Serge Gnabry, Arsenal allowed another brilliant young forward to escape. Akpom finally got fed up and left to join Greek team PAOK Thessaloniki in August of 2018. Since then he has played sixty-eight games for PAOK and has scored seven times and gotten two assists in twenty-three games this season. And if you don’t believe that the Greek Super League is one of the best in Europe, I would strongly advise you to watch the Europa League Olympiacos versus Arsenal highlights.
Italy (Serie A)
Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
Italy has a great record with former Premier League players, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku, Edin Dzeko, Alexis Sanchez and Gonzalo Higuain. It increasingly looks like the likes of Pedro and Willian will join that list, but for now this has to go to Cristiano Ronaldo who is still going strong at the age of thirty-five. He is the second highest goalscorer in Serie A with twenty-two goals and he also has three assists. Ronaldo is most famous for his career at Real Madrid, but he played in almost three hundred games for Manchester United and scored one hundred and eighteen goals with sixty-nine assists.
Dusan Tadic, Ajax
Ajax gained popularity last year following a Champions League run that included wins over Real Madrid, Juventus, and (nearly) Tottenham. Dusan Tadic was a huge part of that, and continues to star for Ajax with eleven goals and fifteen assists in twenty-five games this season for the Dutch club. Tadic was somewhat of a flop in England after being bought for almost fifteen and a half million USD (13,819,645 Euro). He appeared in 162 games but nothing really ever clicked, as he scored just twenty-four goals and got thirty-five assists. However, his career has picked up nicely in the Dutch capital as Tadic has fifty-four goals and forty-five assists in ninety-eight games.
Russia (Premier Liga)
Nikola Vlasic, CSKA
Another player who was more successful after moving abroad, Nikola Vlasic has played a huge role in what has ultimately been a disappointing season for CSKA Moscow. CSKA have finished in the top four every single season since 2001/02, but that looks poised to change as CSKA are in 5th place with just seven games remaining, three of those against Moscow rivals Dynamo, Lokomotiv and Spartak Moscow. However, former Everton man Nikola Vlasic has been a bright spot for CSKA, playing 98% of all minutes played and getting seven goals and four assists in twenty-three games.
Spain (La Liga)
Luis Suarez, FC Barcelona
Barcelona took a massive risk when they bought the controversial Uruguayan from Liverpool in 2014 for a fee of around $89,890,000 (80,133,698 Euro). He was coming off of a World Cup in which he had bitten Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, which had happened twice in the previous three years. He had become universally hated for hand balling on the goal line against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, preventing Ghana from becoming the first African nation ever to make the World Cup semi finals. However, the gamble has paid off as Suarez has not had any major incidents since then and his form has been superb. Suarez has one hundred and ninety-one goals and one hundred and nine assists since signing for Barcelona, and that has continued this season as he has eleven goals and eight assists in twenty-one games.
Turkey (Süper Lig)
Alexander Sørloth, Trabzonspor
Turkey has become a haven over the years for former Premier League players, legends and flops alike. Robin Van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Didier Drogba have all played in Turkey recently, and this year the likes of Loris Karius, Radamel Falcao, Mario Lemina, Jean Michael Seri and more joined. So why is the best player a twenty-four year old Norwegian loaned out from Crystal Palace? Sørloth has been in incredible form this season for Trabzonspor, scoring nineteen goals and getting eight assists as Trabzonspor have a decent chance of becoming just the second team from outside of Istanbul to win the Turkish Süper Lig since the 1983/84 season. And of course, because he’s a striker who has two feet and can breathe, he’s linked to Manchester United.
So that is my opinion of the best former Premier League player in each of Europe’s top leagues. If you have an opinion as to a better player in these leagues, a recommendation for an article, or just any questions for me, please leave a comment. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!