The Premier League is the most exciting league on the planet, bar none. The league has transformed itself into a lucrative business that attracts millions of players worldwide. That’s why anyone who is anyone wants to come to England and shine under the bright lights. It’s in this league that you can morph potential ability into bonafide stardom. Over the years, thousands of players have tried their luck in the Premier League, some have become legends, others have failed to impress.
Some budding legends made their mark and then left for greener pastures, leaving the English public wanting more. There are many who have made that exact mark, this article will name just ten of those amazing talents still playing today. While they are still doing well as players, their talents would arguably be put to better use in the Premier League.
On the flip side, there are players who have also made their own mark….in a different way. A way that has left absolutely no one wanting them to return to the Premier League. This may be due to their poor performances, inexplicable off the pitch antics or foul attitude towards others. Either way, we don’t want to see them come back, ever. And at this point, it's unlikely many Premier League clubs would be interested in them anyway.
Here are 10 players we want to see return to the Premier League and 10 we don’t.
20 Return: Filipe Luís
The Premier League thrives on having the best players in the world. Without a doubt, Filipe Luís is probably pound for pound the best left-back in the world. Others would claim Marcelo is, but I would beg to differ as the Real Madrid full-back excels better in the final third than his own penalty box. In contrast, Luís excels at both ends of the pitch.
Filipe Luís’ Chelsea tenure was a mixed bag, he did win the Premier League and Carabao Cup in the same season, but he only made 26 appearances for the Blues.
He arrived in the summer of 2014 and returned back to Atletico Madrid in 2015. Fans would love to see Filipe Luís back in the Premier League as he’s the model example of a modern full-back.
19 Don't: Renato Sanches
Once dubbed as the next Andres Iniesta, Renato Sanches career has taken a tumultuous dip in recent years. The youngster used to be so highly rated that he was named Golden Boy in 2016, establishing him as the best young player in the world. Fast forward a year and he’s in the Premier League under a figure he knows so well, Paul Clement.
However, this was much very different from the duo’s time at Bayern Munich, no no no, the pair were engrossed in a relegation battle at Swansea. A battle Renato Sanches didn’t have the skillset to thrive in. With his 12 appearances at Swansea, Sanches showed he wasn’t cut out for the Premier League and was instead taking away a precious spot in the team from more deserving academy prospects.
18 Return: Edin Džeko
For Edin Džeko he was quite unfortunate to be competing for a starting spot with Sergio Agüero. In all fairness, there isn’t a striker alive today that would displace Agüero at the Etihad. Despite playing second fiddle to the Argentinean, Džeko still managed to score 72 goals in 187 games.
At Roma, he’s now upgraded his proficiency to a goal every 1.8 games. At the age of 32, Džeko has the legs to dominate the Premier League and become one of the top scorers in the tournament. There is a backup striker stigma attached to the name of Edin Džeko, with a return to England he could exterminate that nickname within weeks.
17 Don't: Samir Nasri
Samir Nasri is one of the most talented players out of France to ever grace the game. But do you know why many don’t view him in that light? Attitude. Nasri’s attitude stank and it ultimately cost him a glittering career.
At Arsenal, he refused to sign a new contract, not because of success, but purely money.
He left behind Arsène Wenger the man who had given him everything just for an extra couple of grand at the Etihad. So, what did it amount to? A few trophies and a bad reputation. Nasri’s attitude also cost him a place in his country's national team as he’s been exiled ever since 2014. Now the 30-year-old spends his days in Turkey deep in thought about what kind of career he could have had.
16 Return: Wojciech Szczęsny
It’s fair to say that Arsenal fans jumped the gun with Wojciech Szczęsny. Since he started playing football in Serie A, Szczęsny has shown the world how good he truly is. In fact, he’s proven himself to be more of a competent shot stopper than both Petr Cech and David Ospina. Arsène Wenger got rid of the Pole too early in his career and now Arsenal is paying the consequence.
Last season, Gianluigi Buffon’s successor averaged 1.25 saves per game while keeping an impressive 10 clean sheets in 16 appearances. Now the 28-year-old has proven he has the right temperament, the Premier League is ready to welcome him back with open arms.
15 Don't: Robinho
Robinho’s arrival in England in 2008 marked the beginning of Manchester City’s financial dominance over the Premier League. The Brazilian’s signing was announced on the same day Manchester City announced their new owners, Abu Dhabi United Group. Although it was a promising start, the Brazilian failed to live up to expectations in England.
Fourteen goals in 41 games for the Sky Blues is what you call a £32.5million flop. He had all the skills & stepovers but not the productivity to accompany. Instead of playing the rest of his days in Brazil, Robinho now plays in Turkey in hope that a Premier League club will spot him.
14 Return: Angel Di Maria
To this day, Angel Di Maria is one of the best wingers in the world. He has a certain star power, however, that x-factor quality didn’t manifest at Old Trafford. Louis Van Gaal didn’t help matters either, he turned the Argentinean into a repetitive crossing machine that wasn’t allowed to express his creative side.
Di Maria only scored three times in 27 appearances for the Red Devils and left for Paris Saint-Germain after one season in Manchester.
Now is the perfect time for the 30-year-old to come back and right the biggest wrong of his career. He would especially thrive at a Liverpool or Arsenal, teams who focus on attacking play.
13 Don't: Zlatan Ibrahimović
It’s no longer Zlatan time. The 36-year-old’s career now lies in the hands of the MLS. Ibrahimović has always been one to try and defy the odds. For the past six years, he’s been told he’s too old to play at the top level. However, in that time he’s worn the colours of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
Even though he’s currently at LA Galaxy, there are rumours that a return to a mid-table Premier League club could be in the cards. However, the Premier League legend of Zlatan Ibrahimović should be left as it is, without any additional chapters.
12 Return: Luka Modrić
It was very clear from his time in North London that Luka Modrić was destined for bigger things than Tottenham Hotspurs. His move to Real Madrid was just the start of that journey as he’s now firmly established himself as one of the best central midfielders of all time. His effortless creativity and intelligent positioning have steered Real Madrid to four UEFA Champions League titles.
At 33 years of age, Luka Modrić is still better than any midfielder in the Premier League today and his presence at any of the top six clubs would improve them. Such is his style of play that his physical attributes don’t affect his influence on the game.
11 Don't: Hatem Ben Arfa
Like Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa’s career could have been so much more if he had a good attitude. Ben Arfa's two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain expired on June 30th, and he opted to sign with Rennes. In two years in Paris, the 31-year-old only made 30 appearances, scoring four goals in the process.
It’s not that he wasn’t good enough to play for the Ligue 1 giants, his attitude just made him an unattractive option.
In the Premier League, he also dazzled the masses, but his constant quarrels with Alan Pardew in effect put a black mark over his name. Now no Premier League club wants to look into him, and rightly so.
10 Return: Philippe Coutinho
On his day, there isn’t a cleaner striker of the ball than Philippe Coutinho. The Brazil scorer seems to score long-range goals for fun, making them look easy to execute. And he’s not just a long shot merchant, the Brazilian’s ability to create chances for others is second to none.
In his time at Liverpool, Coutinho directly contributed to 98 goals (54G, 44A) in 201 appearances. That’s the kind of magical output that the Premier League was built upon and its players like Coutinho that made the league so marketable to a global audience. We want to see Coutinho come back and impress in the world’s most watched league, again.
9 Don't: Memphis Depay
Sometimes you get talented players that have all the tools to succeed, but not the mentality to match. Louis Van Gaal brought Memphis Depay to Manchester as his blue-chip prospect, but how did the winger repay that faith? By spending most of his days ‘on the gram’ flexing his expensive jewels and extravagant lifestyle.
Now, the Dutchman spends his days at Lyon, flattering to deceive. The Premier League has seen enough pretenders who weren’t ready to take their opportunity seriously. That’s why a Memphis Depay return wouldn’t be welcomed by anyone. Because if he were to go to a mid-table side, his wage demands wouldn’t be proportionate to his contribution.
8 Return: Diego Costa
In the history of the Premier League, not many strikers have been more passionate than Diego Costa. The Brazil-born striker's work rate, desire and grit are unrivalled in the modern era. To watch the striker pick defenders apart week in week out was an honour and highly entertaining.
He worked for the team whilst single-handedly scoring all of their goals.
In 120 Chelsea appearances, he scored 58 goals for the Blues, firing them to two league titles.
Diego Costa needs to come back to the Premier League and finish the wondrous work he started, it’s only fair. Perhaps it can happen once more before he retires.
7 Don't: Roberto Soldado
Today’s Tottenham fans must be so happy that their current striker is Harry Kane, not Roberto Soldado. The former Spur is arguably the worst striker to ever set foot in England. In 52 league appearances for Spurs, Soldado only scored seven goals, of which only a few were from open play.
Unlike others, his attitude was fine and perhaps you could even say he was a model professional. But for some reason, he just couldn’t adapt to the pace of the Premier League game. At times it was painful to watch him even try and succeed at White Hart Lane. So, I think it’s for the best we leave those painful memories in the past.
6 Return: Dimitri Payet
We must always remember that footballers are human. Not all are driven by money or silverware, some just want to work where they’ll be happy. Dimitri Payet arrived in the Premier League in 2015 and on his competitive debut, he led West Ham to a famous win at the Emirates. That was a sign of things to come, as Payet would continue to dazzle England for another two years.
However, in January of 2017, Payet made it publicly clear he wanted to leave East London to be reunited with his family in Marseille. We’re happy he’s with his family but from a selfish point of view, many fans would love to see Payet’s bewitching skill on Premier League turf one more time.
5 Don't: Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli possesses all the talent in the world, but his attitude has never allowed him to apply that talent. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ is the perfect slogan for the former Manchester City player. He may have assisted the most the famous goal in City’s history, but it’s safe to say Italy's talented, but troubled striker never reached his potential in Manchester.
In 54 appearances for City, the striker only scored 20 goals. Over his career, he’s picked up over 120 yellow cards in his career, a testament to his hot temperament.
Balotelli already received a second chance in the Premier League with a tenure at Liverpool, where he failed to impress again. There shouldn’t be a third.
4 Return: Gareth Bale
After single-handedly settling the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final, Gareth Bale’s stock is sky high, again. Since completing a record-breaking move to Real Madrid in 2013, Gareth Bale’s career hasn’t taken off in the trajectory we thought it would. Although he’s impressively scored 70 goals in 126 appearances for Los Blancos, the locals have grown tired of his constant injuries.
In England, the 28-year-old is still regarded as a world-class player for the way he dominated the right flank at White Hart Lane. For Bale’s career to restart in the right way, he needs to return home to the Premier League and show the world why he’s the greatest British player of all time.
3 Don't: Luis Suárez
Sorry but not sorry, Luis Suárez may still be a top striker today, but his services aren’t welcome in the Premier League. When at Liverpool, Suárez’s footballing brilliance was often blurred by his multiple controversies. These multiples controversies and patterns have left an unremovable blemish on Suárez’s reputation in the UK.
It's affected his perception so much that Liverpool fans hardly reminisce about his exploits, instead yearning for the return of Philippe Coutinho. Put quite simply, Luis Suárez carries too much baggage with him, baggage that negates his on the pitch contribution. The league has moved on without him and so have Liverpool.
2 Return: Cristiano Ronaldo
The thought of the best player in the world returning to the Premier League simply sends shivers down my spine.
Since swapping Manchester for Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has won four Ballon d’Ors and four UEFA Champions League titles.
The superstar has taken football to a new stratosphere alongside Lionel Messi. But now, the 33-year-old decided to take on a new challenge, joining Serie A giants Juventus.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who parachuted the career of Ronaldo, and hopefully one of the all-time greats eventually finishes his career where it really took off, back at Old Trafford.
1 Don't: Nicklas Bendtner
Would you believe that Nicklas Bendtner is still playing football today? The Dane currently resides in Norway where he plays for Rosenborg. In nearly 50 appearances for the club, Bendtner has scored 24 goals. That’s still not good enough to warrant a return to the Premier League.
His time at Arsenal summed up Arsène Wenger’s flaws perfectly. Wenger was renowned for being loyal to players that let him down time after time, Nicklas Bendtner was one of those players. To make things worse, he genuinely believed he could be the best striker in the world. I think it’s fair to say PL football fans have had enough of Bendtner for one lifetime.