The Premier League has almost always stood out amongst European football as the home of the absolute best that the game had to offer. However, the last decade of English football has amped that entertainment factor even further.
The departure from a single-team dominance that was beginning to be apparent towards the end of the 2000s was fully visible in this era where a variety emerged in the clubs and players that stamped their mark on the hearts of the spectators.
The talent that stood out during these years certainly begs a closer look.
David De Gea
When it comes to goalkeepers, this decade only had one name that was repeatedly hyped to be amongst the best. Even though some of the more recent antics from the Spaniard may make this claim appear questionable, there is no doubt that he had the best period of consistent growth amongst the several shotstoppers who plied their trade in England.
When Manchester City’s emergence over this decade is considered and looked at deeply, the Argentine fullback may not immediately emerge as amongst the standout names.
However, the sort of disciplined impact he lent to the Sky Blues is precisely what has made them the daunting European force they are today. What makes Zabaleta stand out is that he remained consistent during a fiercely turbulent period in Premier League football.
While many lament that the great era of defenders is in the past in the age of fiery attacking talent, players like Kompany put a strong stamp on the vitality of a centre-back.
The Belgian international was crucial to the rise of the Citizens, as a defender to be relied on as well as a leader to look up to. Be it in solid defensive maneuvers or providing crucial corner goals, Kompany rarely failed to deliver.
Arguably the finest centre-back that English football has seen and an accolade that will remain for a while. The Manchester United defender, alongside Nemanja Vidic, formed the kind of solid backline that makes the work on the rest of the pitch appear all too easy.
The Englishman’s skillset and pure workrate during this decade despite his age at the time has immortalized a special kind of defending in world football.
Having joined Everton in 2007, the Englishman has delivered the most lasting string of performances for the Toffees, being relentless in him presence on the left flank.
What makes him stand out when compared to the indomitable Patrice Evra is that Baines functioned and excelled in a side who were slow in their rise during this decade and almost never found a solid footing. Despite that, he remained a constant source of brilliance.
Leicester City’s dreamlike story is aped in the rise of Kante as well. Starting the decade with his senior professional debut only in 2012, the Frenchman went on to lift the Premier League title twice and became one of the most tactically gifted midfielders of this generation.
His is a brilliance that only manifested in the second half of the decade and yet left the sort of impact that only a midfielder of his dynamism and sheer dizzying workrate can be capable of.
Kevin De Bruyne
The rise to a dominating style of play wasn’t easy for De Bruyne whose initial years in the League was marred by a frustrating rejection by Chelsea. It was only when Manchester City picked him up that the Belgian’s full potential was unleashed and even bettered from his prior stints.
At the moment, he is easily one of the finest talent that the Premier League has produced and is clearly hungry for even more glory.
Another engineer of the Manchester City dominance of this decade, Silva has been a perfect example of the Sky Blues’ rise. Having joined in 2010, Silva has played an integral role in all of the four occasions that the Mancunian giants lifted the Premier League title.
It his technical ability and on-field intelligence that makes Silva a standout player and his age at this point does seem to indicate that this decade was his well-earned peak.
122 goals were scored by the English striker during this period, capping off an apt run of mixed glory at Manchester United. Rooney’s story is one that the Premier League will hope to generate time and time again.
Through versatility, a hunger for goals, and an ever-present desire for picturesque moments, few players have come to equal what Rooney’s name has come to mean in English football.
When the Belgian forward departed to Real Madrid at the close of the decade, many lamented that the Premier League had lost one of its finest gems from the modern era.
His rise was a patient one and his redeemable qualities lay in the manner in which he made any role fully his. The mid-point of these ten years saw him poised to become the best player in the world and the 85 goals he managed whilst as Chelsea is certainly a strong indicator of what he can further go on to achieve.
While City’s presence in this list is reflective of their takeover of the Premier League, all tactical brilliance and managerial inputs would have been incomplete without the pure hunger for goals with which Sergio Aguero operates.
His dream-like last-minute goal that won City their first Premier League title will forever be imprinted on several minds and that is certainly an apt capsule of all that he has done for the Sky Blues.
In conclusion, it would be amiss to close this decade of English football without acknowledging the legendary tale of Leicester City. The Foxes tottered on the brink of relegation in 2015 while 2016 saw them do the unthinkable and win the Premier League. In fact, they are now closing the decade poised to be a strong top-four club, perhaps setting the precedent for the next ten years.
Here’s a tale that triumphs over the many accolades of the richer more well-known clubs. Leicester showed that pure passion and talent can and almost certainly does drive the game and it is their brilliance that stands out the most, meriting the title of Team of the Decade.