Going Dutch – does the Premier League have the best?

Ruud Gullit

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Gullit was one of the top two or three players in the world in the late eighties and early nineties. He was part of the great Holland team that won the European Championships in 1988 and starred for AC Milan as they dominated European football.

He became one of the first big name foreign players to come to the Premier League when he joined Chelsea in 1995. Chelsea’s manager at the time, Glenn Hoddle, wanted his team to play attractive passing football and the signing of Gullit was key to that transition.

However, Hoddle didn’t last long and a year later he was off to manage the England national team. Gullit was offered the job on a player manager basis and he led Chelsea to the FA Cup in 1997. Undoubtedly a great player, Gullit’s arrival in the Premier League helped shape the future of our game for years to come. But his best years were before he got here at AC Milan.
Verdict: Rest of the World

Jaap Stam

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Stam joined Manchester United at the start of the 1998/99 season. He was one of three major purchases made by the club that summer, along with Dwight Yorke and Jesper Blomqvist.

Alex Ferguson was determined to win back the Premier League after Arsenal had finished top the previous season. Stam joined an already superb side and soon formed a formidable partnership with Ronny Johnson in the centre of United’s defence. In Stam’s debut season, the team raced to a remarkable treble, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

He was allowed to leave Old Trafford after a further two seasons as Lazio offered United £15m, a fee Ferguson felt was too good to turn down for a 29 year old defender. Stam went on to star for Lazio and then AC Milan. He spent three seasons in the Premier League and won three league titles, one of which was part of United’s historic treble.
Verdict: Best in the World

Nigel de Jong

Copyright Paul Blank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2.5
de Jong

De Jong signed for Man City in 2009 from Hamburg and was a key player in the period that they went from pretenders to genuine title contenders. He was always a popular player amongst Man City supporters due to his tough tackling and no nonsense style in the middle of the park.

However, he was never a favourite of neutral fans after a couple of famous unsavoury challenges. He broke Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg with a crunching challenge in the Premier League and was lucky not be sent off for a chest high kick on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup Final in 2010. De Jong was one of Holland’s worst offenders as they tried to stop Spain’s passing game by fouling them at every opportunity.

Interestingly, Roberto Mancini didn’t use De Jong much in the year City did manage to win the league and let him leave for AC Milan the following summer.
Verdict: Rest of the World

Edgar Davids

Copyright Paul Blank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2.5

With his dreadlocked hair and protective goggles Davids was one of the most recognisable, as well as talented, players of his generation. He played for the biggest clubs in the world. His career started at Ajax where he won the Champions League before moving to AC Milan. He couldn’t get into their team and so move to rivals Juventus where he spent six successful seasons, winning three Serie A titles.

A brief loan move to Barcelona and a short spell at Inter Milan led to Davids joining Tottenham in 2005. He stayed at White Hart Lane for two seasons, in both of which the club finished fifth in the league, before returning to Holland. One of the best midfielders of his era, but Davids only played 40 games in England so can’t go down as a Premier League great.
Verdict: Rest of the World