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The 10 Best Foreign Footballers in the English Premier League

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The 10 Best Foreign Footballers in the English Premier League
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

73:28.

At the start of the 2009-10 season, that was the ratio of foreign-to-British-born footballers playing for what is currently the Top Four teams in the EPL.

In comparison, in 1989-90 less than 10 percent of the first-team squads of these clubs—Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United—were born outside of the UK.

Where now, millions of fans can watch exciting superstars such as Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez and Luis Nani on a weekly basis, 20 years ago the more modest names of Niall Quinn, Tony Dorigo, David Oldfield and Bruce Gobelaar were about as exotic as it got for top-tier English football fans.

Of course, when billions of pounds of private investment and television sponsorship money and exponential technological advances are brought into the equation, it is easier to understand why some bright young English players such as Kieron Gibbs at Arsenal and Tom Huddlestone at Tottenham Hotspur sometimes struggle for playing time.

While some so-called football purists will complain about the influx of foreign ''mercenaries,'' a pejorative term designating an outsider who has entered into a situation on the promise of disproportionate personal gain with little interest in the success of his companions, there is little doubt that many of these outsiders have attained legendary status with supporters, and some continue to light up often fractious fragmented matches with moments of sublime intelligence and skill.

In the following video slideshow, I rank the 10 best foreign footballers—in this instance footballers born outside of the UK and Ireland—based loosely on the below criteria:

1. Consistency of performance at a high level

2. Vital statistics

3. Impact of their ability on their team

4. Awards and achievements

Let me know if I have been generous or made any glaring omissions!

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