More than 30 years since it began and single-handedly started football, the Premier League has transformed from a wholly insular division to one that is home to global stars and hundreds of different nationalities.
Given the strength of La Liga in comparison to Ligue Un and the Eredivisie, it took longer for Spanish players to migrate than their French and Dutch counterparts; the same can also be said for German and Italian players.
As a result, there has been a smaller representation but in truth, it has led to it being a matter of quality over quantity. Even if just for one season in the case of Michu.
This summer has seen a changing of the Spanish guard in the Premier League, with the two longest-serving, Cesar Azpilcueta and David De Gea, departing Chelsea and Manchester United respectively after over a decade of service.
A previous great, Cesc Fabregas, has hung up his boots altogether while long-time international teammate and fellow member of the “Dream Team,” David Silva, could soon follow after suffering a devastating ACL injury.
With this in mind, who are the best 10 Spanish players to grace the Premier League? Vamos.
10) Santi Cazorla
While the latter half of his six-year stint at Arsenal was plagued by injuries, Cazorla did enough in his first three years in north London to warrant a spot on this list.
Signing in 2012, the diminutive playmaker became the true replacement for both his compatriot Fabregas and Samir Nasri, acting as the creative hub for the Gunners from the offset.
Two FA Cup medals, a free-kick in the first of those finals (which ended the club’s nine-year trophy drought) and even an efficient midfield pairing with Francis Coquelin. Not bad.
Trossard is the only player to score a hat trick of goals and a hat trick of assists in same PL season since Santi Cazorla
Both wear Number 19, both do the eye celebration, both play for Arsenal. Spooky😄 pic.twitter.com/iMsvHC2kQs
— UpYourArsenal🔴⚪🔴⚪♥️ (@UPYOURARSENAL04) July 18, 2023
9) Juan Mata
If his first two seasons with Chelsea were the sole basis to judge Mata off, he would certainly be higher in this ranking.
The Champions League and FA Cup was delivered in his first season and the Europa League following in his second, a campaign in which he had 12 goals and 16 assists in the Premier League alone.
Back-to-back club player of the year awards said it all but he found himself quickly out of favour following the return of Jose Mourinho.
A good but not great Manchester United career followed, which was started by a helicopter landing to meet David Moyes (banter era). In truth, he was always a square peg in a round hole during a chaotic era at Old Trafford.
His 11-year Premier League career came to an end in 2022, with 52 goals and 63 assists from 278 games but curiously, no Premier League title for a player who has won everything else on offer.
8) Diego Costa
Mad as a bag of spiders but what a player.
Joining Chelsea in 2014 after knocking them out of the Champions League with Atletico the season before, Costa got off to a flier as Jose’s men marched to a Premier League and League Cup double, netting 20 goals in the process and making the Team of the Year.
A down year followed as Mourinho went into full meltdown but things bounced back instantaneously with the arrival of Antonio Conte, another headbanger who would unsurprisingly blow up with the Brazilian-turned-Spanish striker.
Another 20 goals and another league title came but a longing for a return to Atletico via flirting with a move to China saw his time at the Bridge draw to a close after three seasons.
It’s probably best to just forget his spell at Wolves last campaign.
Like Costa, Rodri came to the Premier League from Atletico Madrid, signing for City in the summer of 2018 as a long-term replacement for the legendary Fernandinho.
A daunting task but one to which Rodri has taken with ease, becoming the metronomic heartbeat and calming influence at the heart of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.
His fingerprints are all over that success, with the equalising goal in the comeback win against Aston Villa on the final day of the 2021/22 season and, of course, the winning goal in the Champions League final in June.
Expect the 27-year-old to shoot up this list if he continues in this vein.
6) Xabi Alonso
The definition of class.
Alonso followed Rafael Benitez to Liverpool from La Liga in the summer of 2004 and over the course of five seasons and 210 appearances, he became a true Anfield icon.
His defining moment, like any Reds player of the time, came in Istanbul as he netted the equaliser on That Famous Night.
In an almighty blunder by Benitez, he looked to replace the Basque midfielder with Gareth Barry in 2008, which not only backfired but ultimately led to the departure of Alonso the following summer to Real Madrid, where his game went to another level.
5) Cesar Azpilicueta
The man nicknamed ‘Dave’ arrived in west London in the summer of 2012 to limited fanfare but ultimately became one of the modern greats in Chelsea history.
His 11 seasons in the Premier League saw him become a mainstay of the Blues defence, playing left-back and right-back and in both a back four and a back five. A jack of all trades, and a master of most.
League titles came under Mourinho and Conte, as well as domestic cup success. His crowning moment came under Thomas Tuchel, as he captained the club to their second Champions League success in 2021.
He departed this summer for Atletico, pulling the curtain down on a 349-appearance Premier League career.
4) David de Gea
He may have fallen into decline in recent years, but it can’t be said that David De Gea is not a true Premier League great.
The 2017/18 season was perhaps the apex, with that stunning performance at the Emirates lasting long in the memory.
Unlucky that his peak coincided with United’s downturn after Fergie’s departure, he can still call himself a league winner, having won the title in 2012/13. This season would also mark the first of five times he was named in the Team of the Year, the most in Premier League history.
No Spanish player has played more times in the English top flight (415), a record which seems unlikely to be broken anytime soon.
3) Fernando Torres
Let’s forget about his rather turgid spell at Chelsea and focus on El Nino at Liverpool.
Over a three-and-a-half year spell at Anfield, Torres blew through the league with 65 goals in just 102 appearances – and that was with injury difficulties after his debut campaign.
Back-to-back Team of the Year selections deservedly came as his link-up with Steven Gerrard formed one of the best pairings in the Premier League era.
Another Spaniard without a league title but one who will love long in the memory on Merseyside.
2) David Silva
In truth, it’s a toss-up between one and two on this list but something has to give.
It is no slight on Silva, though; he proved himself to be amont the best in the league during his 10 years in England.
Joining in the summer of 2010 alongside Yaya Toure, he was the first true superstar to sign for City as their Abu Dhabi revolution began to take shape.
He was instrumental in the club’s first league title in 44 years in 2012 and was one of few players to survive the following years and into the Pep Guardiola era, who unsurprisingly made him one of his on-field lieutenants, eventually assuming the captaincy in his final season.
It was under his fellow Spaniard that Silva was moved into a more central role, dovetailing in stunning fashion with fellow creative genius Kevin De Bruyne.
Four league titles, 60 goals and 93 assists are a testament to his Premier League greatness, but really, he was so much more than stats.
Ah, man. David Silva set to retire, because of injury. What a pity. What a great player.
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) July 22, 2023
1) Cesc Fabregas
Only Ryan Giggs has more Premier League assists than Cesc Fabregas (111) which tells you all you need to know about the brilliance of the Catalonian midfielder.
Goals also came as Fabregas put up the type of numbers now only associated with De Bruyne. What made it all the more impressive was most of it came before the age of 24.
Breaking into the post-Invincible season Arsenal team at 17, he was instantly at home and soon became a key man, eventually assuming the captaincy at the tender age of 21.
He returned home to Barcelona in the summer of 2011 but made a Premier League comeback just three years later, to Chelsea in what must have been a nightmare for any Gooner.
It was with the Blues that Fabregas won his two Premier League titles, being integral in particular to the first under Mourinho.
For all of this and the fact he helped pave the way for so many others, he is the best Spanish player in Premier League history.