We often hear that the Premier League is the best in the world. If that was true, it would have the best players playing here during the best years of their careers. Is that actually the case?
In this series we will see if the best players from each country have chosen to join the Premier League during the peak years of their career. First, here is the best possible eleven from Holland that have played in England since the Premier League was formed in 1992.
Edwin van der Saar
The man that finally filled the hole left by Peter Schmeichel at Manchester United. After the ‘Great Dane’ left in 1999, it took Fergie six seasons and several calamitous signings before he finally found another keeper he could trust.
Van der Saar had spent his early career winning trophies with Ajax and then Juventus before surprisingly joining Fulham in 2001. He spent four years at Craven Cottage and his impressive decision making and calming presence convinced Fergie to sign him.
Van der Saar spent six seasons at United where he won four Premier League titles and a second Champions League, 13 years after he first won it with Ajax.
Verdict: Best in the World
Reiziger spent just one season in the Premier League when he joined Middlesbrough on a Bosman free transfer in 2004.
He played 22 games for the Teesiders and scored one goal helping the club to seventh place, and qualification for the UEFA Cup(Middlesbrough progressed to the final of the tournament the following season, after Reiziger had returned to Holland, but were beaten 4-0 by Sevilla).
Reiziger had a great career winning trophies with Ajax and Barcelona and was a regular in the Holland national team for ten years. However, his best years weren’t in England as he came here when his career was coming to an end.
Verdict: Rest of the World
Gio van Bronckhorst
Van Bronckhorst played for Arsenal for two seasons between 2001 and 2003. He was part of the team that won the Premier League title in 2002 under Arsene Wenger.
Van Bronckhorst then left Arsenal for Barcelona and became a key player for the Spanish giants. In 2006 he faced his old club in the Champions League final. Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 after trailing for much of the game.
Van Bronckhorst’s career had several highlights as he won league titles in three different countries. He also made over 100 appearances for Holland, including captaining the side to the 2010 World Cup final where they were beaten 1-0 by Spain in a bad tempered match. Like Reiziger, Van Bronckhorst was a world class player but spent only two years in the Premier League and the best moments of his career came outside England.
Verdict: Rest of the World