The Premier League has been home to some of the world’s greatest players throughout the years.
The likes of Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba and Alan Shearer have all graced England’s top flight, but there are some elite players that have never touched down on our shores.
We compiled a list of the best ten who have never played in England and it makes for interesting reading.
To stop this becoming a list compiled of Lionel Messi plus nine retired legends, we imposed some rules – all players must still be playing, be over 30 years old and have their best years (slightly) behind them.
Got it? OK let’s get started:
We start with one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi.
The former Barcelona legend plied his trade in Spain for 24 years, working his way from Barca’s world famous La Masia academy before going on to make 777 appearances for the Catalan giants.
Over the decades, Xavi won 25 titles with Barcelona – including two trebles – and carved a reputation as one of the world’s best.
Xavi was never close to joining the Premier League but if it was ever to happen, it would have been around the turn of the century, when Barcelona had financial troubles.
Instead, they sold Luis Figo to Real Madrid and Xavi remained at the Nou Camp for another 15 years, before leaving for mega rich Al Sadd in Qatar.
Now 36 and still in the Middle East, it’s a shame the Spanish maestro never tried his luck in England.
Germany have produced more than their fair share of great strikers over the years.
Gerd Muller, Oliver Bierhoff and Jurgen Klinsmann all spring to mind, but Klose is one that would have thrived in the Premier League, had he ever played in England.
A prolific poacher of a similar style to Alan Shearer, Klose had an envious scoring record for Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and, perhaps most famously of all, Germany.
The Poland born striker holds the record for the most World Cup goals ever scored with 16, and Germany never lost a game in which he scored.
Now 37 and still banging in the goals for Lazio, Klose was never really close to coming to England, because like so many good players in Germany, he was snapped up in his prime by Bayern Munich.
Another former Barcelona player and one who also has an envious international goal record.
Villa is Spain’s all-time top scorer with 59 goals and he was one of Europe’s top strikers for the majority of his career, smashing in the goals at Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before heading to the MLS.
Now 34, Villa’s goals show no sign of slowing down, with the Spaniard netting 18 times in his first season in America.
There was plenty of speculation linking him with a move to England at one point but it never materialised, probably because of the money needed to sign someone with such pedigree.
Arsenal were repeatedly interested in bringing him to the Premier League but Arsene Wenger stalled on getting the cheque book out, leaving the Premier League without one of the world’s most deadly strikers.
The legend that is.
It’s hard to know whats more impressive, his beard or his ability to strike a dead ball.
It takes a special player to have played for Juventus and both Milan clubs and still not be majorly hated by anyone, such as his ability and low maintenance.
Never one to have an ego despite possessing the ability to warrant one, Pirlo is another who now plies his trade in America, at New York City FC.
He’s made England look silly on the international stage thanks to his cheeky panenka penalties, but has never really been close to gracing the Premier League, despite being more than good enough to.
And that’s a disappointment.
Back to Barcelona – because you can’t have a list with Xavi in it and not Iniesta.
The little Spaniard has played his entire career at Barca, coming through the academy before making over 500 appearances for the Catalan giants.
He’s still going strong, too.
His touch and dribbling ability remains second to none and had he ever played in the Premier League, he’d have been one of the best there.
The Barcelona Captain is also one of the select few to have ever received applause from arch rivals Real Madrid, after destroying them with a midfield masterclass in 2015, a game which Barca won 4-0.
With his buyout clause close to £200m, it’s perhaps no real surprise that he’s never played in England, although when Pep Guardiola comes to England this summer, a late swansong might not be totally out of the question.
One of the world’s best ever goalkeepers, it’s more out of loyalty that Buffon has never graced the Premier League.
He remains the world’s most expensive ‘keeper, after moving from Parma to Juventus back in 2001 for £30m and has made over 500 appearances for the Old Lady since.
With that price tag, it’s probably no surprise to learn that no one has ever really been close to taking Buffon from Juve, despite many potential suitors.
Probably the best time to ever tempt him away from Juventus was when they were relegated to Serie B during the match fixing scandal of 2006, but Buffon remained with his club as they sealed an instant return to the top flight.
With 154 Italy appearances to date, Gigi has sights on playing a record sixth World Cup in 2018 and despite never coming to the Premier League, he’ll undoubtedly go down as one of the best ever to play the game.
What is it with Italians being loyal?
Totti is the personification of Roma, having been there since the age of 13.
26 years and over 250 goals later, Totti is still at the Olympic Stadium and has never looked like leaving.
He’s been linked with some of the best clubs in the world over the course of his career but thanks to his love for his Roma, it’s never really been close.
Now 39, Totti finds himself out of contract this summer and with his relationship with new manager Luciano Spalletti not the best, he could be on the hunt for just his second club.
His age is likely to put off any Premier League interest, but there will be plenty of mega rich Chinese and American clubs looking to give Totti a lucrative farewell.
One of the greatest players of all time, it’s a shame the Brazilian never got to showcase his skills on English soil.
Chelsea fans may disagree, as he ripped them apart in the Champions League once upon a time, scoring a sensational toe poke back in 2005.
He’s something of a nomad now – since leaving AC Milan in 2011, the 2005 Ballon d’Or winner has had a series of short spells around the world, most notably in Brazil and Mexico. Since this year’s Brazilian season finished in December, Ronaldinho has been a free agent.
There’s plenty of times he’s been linked with English clubs – Manchester United being one that’s always been sniffing around – but he’s never been on the verge of joining the Premier League.
Then again, when has any top Brazilian came to England? Anyone who answers ‘Anderson’ can get out.
Another of Europe’s most prolific strikers, Argentinian striker Milito would have thrived in the Premier League.
Similar in terms of style to Klose and Shearer, the former Inter Milan striker has averaged a goal every other game throughout his career.
It’s perhaps that kind of loyalty that prevented him from heading to England. When former club Genoa were relegated during the Italian match fixing scandal, Milito moved to Real Zaragoza before returning to the Genoa for a second spell, despite receiving offers from bigger clubs.
Eventually, Inter came calling and Milito was a huge part of their Champions League winning side of 2010, before rejoining first side Racing Club to see out his twilight years.
We couldn’t complete this list without him.
The Swedish legend has had an incredible career, taking him everywhere but the Premier League.
He’s won domestic titles in Spain, Italy, Holland and France but ever since refusing a trial at Arsenal when he was a teenager, he’s never been interested in England.
Ibrahimovic’s contract runs out this summer and after agreeing to play for David Beckham’s MLS franchise from 2018, it leaves the 34-year-old with the chance to choose his next club for a one year stint.
With former manager Jose Mourinho hotly tipped to take over at Manchester United, we might get to see Ibra grace the English game before retirement.
What a treat.