The top 10 English footballers
England invariably find a way to disappoint in major competitions. The Three Lions’ players, however, shine regularly for club sides. So, who are the best English footballers?
Based on ability, form, and potential, here are England's current top ten players.
10 - Adam Lallana
Lallana has always been a decent player, but his performance flourished to a new level last season. He became a favourite under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with his willingness to work a perfect fit for the German’s high pressing system. The attacking midfielder also added an extra edge to his game, scoring eight times in 31 Premier League appearances. He has featured on only 14 occasions in all competitions this campaign, though, mainly due to injuries.
Can the 29-year-old put his troubles behind and return to top form?
Lallana, who has 34 international caps, was awarded the 2016 England Player of the Year award. He scored three international goals in ten games during those 12 months. His outstanding technique, close control, and creative instinct make him an asset to the Three Lions.
9 - Danny Rose
Named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year twice in the last three editions proves Rose is among the most formidable players in English football. His main attribute is offering genuine pace and width. As well as getting into dangerous areas, the Tottenham Hotspur man has improved defensively in recent years.
Rose has 16 caps for his country, in addition to 157 appearances for Spurs. Although he’s struggled for minutes at White Hart Lane since August, playing only seven league games, his prime lies ahead. The 27-year-old remains England’s best option at left-back for next summer’s World Cup. In the meantime, he will strive to rediscover peak performance.
8 - Jamie Vardy
Vardy progressed from non-league football to reach the very top. A feat both remarkable and scarce in equal measure. His pinnacle arrived in 2015/16, playing an instrumental role during Leicester City’s unexpected title triumph, scoring 24 goals to earn the Premier League Player of the Season award. After his rapid rise, the striker was elevated into the England set-up. He has since earned 21 caps, netting seven times.
Vardy’s accomplished finishing, coupled with blistering acceleration, makes him deadly on the counter-attack. Most defences are unable to cope. His high work rate also endears him to supporters.
Despite underperforming last season, along with most Leicester players, Vardy is back among the goals this campaign having scored 17 times in 34 league games.
7 - Eric Dier
Dier signed for Tottenham in summer 2014. He exceeded all expectations to break into the first-team during his debut season. The 23-year-old has continued to look assured. After cementing a starting place at Spurs, he did the same for England. With 25 caps, he is now a key player for his country.
Dier is adept at breaking up play while protecting his defence. He is also versatile, a strong competitor, and comfortable in possession, adding to his value. The talented defensive midfielder - an increasing rarity in today’s game - has missed only two league matches for Mauricio Pochettino’s side this campaign. His future remains in excellent hands under the Argentine manager’s guidance.
6 - John Stones
Arriving at Man City via Barnsley and Everton, Stones experienced a fairy-tale rise. His capacity to recover in defence, excellent blocking ability, as well as accurate passing has seen him draw comparisons with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique. It’s why City spent £47.5 million to sign the English defender in summer 2016.
Despite struggling to perform initially at the Etihad, Stones was a key player during this season’s first three months. At his best, he was the model for executing Pep Guardiola’s fundamental tactics from deep. The 23-year-old must now prove his worth once again to regain his place in City’s starting eleven.
Having already earned 24 England caps, Stones has the potential to develop into a truly exceptional player.
5 - Marcus Rashford
Rashford was fast-tracked through Manchester United’s academy, making his first senior appearance at only 18 years old. Shortly afterwards, he scored on his England debut. The youngster has since represented his nation 16 times, scoring once.
Electric pace, ability to beat defenders, and composure in the final third saw Rashford named the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year in 2015/16; an award previously won by United greats Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Is Rashford more suited to playing as a winger or striker? The answer remains unknown, yet he is one of the most promising young players in world football. Having established himself as a permanent fixture for the Red Devils, he has scored six times and assisted five in 32 league games this campaign. The 20-year-old could become the Three Lions’ biggest name sooner than later.
4 - Kyle Walker
Walker’s pace, strong dribbling ability, and energetic modus operandi make him the ideal modern-day full-back. He possesses a typically Brazilian style. Using his attributes to full effect last season, the former Spurs man was selected in the PFA Team of the Year.
Performing solidly earned Walker the opportunity to further his career. After £53 million changed hands, making him the most expensive English player in history, he joined Manchester City last summer.
Having adapted seamlessly to his new surroundings, Walker played a huge role in City’s title success. His display secured a place in the Premier League’s best eleven for the second successive season. Although questions remain regarding the 27-year-old’s intelligence on the ball, awareness, and end product, Guardiola will ensure those areas continue to improve.
As England’s most talented right-back, Walker will soon add significantly to his 34 international caps.
3 - Dele Alli
Since signing from MK Dons for £5 million in February 2015, Alli has proven a real bargain for Spurs. He made an instant impact. It’s led to him being voted the PFA Young Player of the Season on two occasions, as well as selection for the Premier League Team of the Year during the same time period.
Alli’s skilful ball play and consistent finishing has combined to produce a formidable midfielder. He netted 18 league goals last season, almost averaging one every two matches. The 21-year-old continues to impress having scored 8 times and assisted 11 in 33 games this campaign.
Against Real Madrid in November, Alli further demonstrated his talent, scoring twice to help Tottenham defeat the reigning European Champions, 3-1.
Alli has sights set on adding to his 23 international caps at the World Cup. Despite his flaws, he is England’s next big hope.
2 - Raheem Sterling
Another player to have found an extra gear under Guardiola’s tutelage during the past nine months, Sterling has struck 18 goals in 31 league games. His blinding pace and capable dribbling is now complemented with added composure in the final third. It has helped create a phenomenal attacker.
Sterling first earned his glowing reputation at Liverpool, having been named the club’s Young Player of the Season twice. His £49 million transfer to Man City increased the pressure on him, though. The 23-year-old struggled to cope with the criticism, particularly while representing the Three Lions. He has since improved mentally, however, with devastating results.
In 44 competitive matches this season, Sterling has hit 23 goals. An impressive record for most strikers, not least for a winger.
1 - Harry Kane
After breaking through in 2014/15, Kane has been named in the PFA Team of the Year four consecutive times. A feat only equalled by Man United’s David de Gea. The Tottenham striker’s lethal finishing also earned him the Premier League Golden Boot on the last two occasions.
Kane brought his goal-scoring prowess to England’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, scoring five goals to take his international tally to 12 in 23 appearances. Despite his impressive strike rate, he remains selfless, holding on to the ball superbly while looking to link up with teammates.
This season, Kane’s relentless form continues. He has scored an incredible 27 times in 34 league encounters. The 24-year-old also replicated his domestic performance on the European stage. With only two previous Champions League goals to his name, he grabbed seven in Spurs’ run to the last 16.
Without a doubt, Kane is the best English footballer alive today.
10 notable mentions
If this list was judged on ability alone, then Jack Wilshere would definitely make the cut. Perhaps Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, too. All three, however, have failed to show consistency throughout their careers. In recent times, Daniel Sturridge falls into the same category.
Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford continue to earn glowing reviews, yet both goalkeepers lack international experience.
Jesse Lingard is surprising many with his form at Man United. Having been involved in 14 Premier League goals this season, he’s unfortunate to miss out. As are Leicester’s Harry Maguire, Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier and Liverpool’s James Milner for their recent performance at club level.