FourFourTwo's 100 best foreign Premier League players ever: 80-71

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76. Yakubu


Yakubu's hopscotching career – which encompassed stints at Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn, and nigh on 100 goals – often had him painted of something as a hired gun. But for those inclined to see things another way, such mid-table journeymanship has a romantic element to it, too. And besides, even as a hired gun, Yakubu rarely did anything less than a brutally efficient job.

A desperately unfortunate knee ligament injury at Everton interrupted his momentum while he was in arguably the best form of his career, and he returned looking a shell of the player he was, many fearing he'd never recover from his pace having seemingly been expunged overnight. But on he battled, dropping down a division with Leicester before returning in 2011/12 with 17 goals for a doomed, desperate Blackburn side during a heartening last hurrah in the top flight. AH

75. N’Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante

Expectations were minimal at best when a boyish-looking 5ft 6in central midfielder rocked up at Leicester to replace Esteban Cambiasso in the summer of 2015. He was, after all, greeted on his first day at training by a security guard asking him if he was lost and waiting for his parents to collect him. 
But don’t judge a book and all that. Kante quickly established himself as a freakish force of nature who epitomised the rise of a Leicester team that shocked the world in 2015/16, haring around central midfield like a Duracell bunny on speed. “No matter who we're playing, we play three in midfield,” said the Foxes' former head of recruitment, Steve Walsh. “Drinkwater in the middle as a holding player, and Kante either side."
It was no exaggeration – the quiet Frenchman was a statistical phenomenon who added quiet class in possession to his all-action defensive displays. Leicester couldn’t hang on to him for more than season, though, and Chelsea are now grateful beneficiaries of his all-encompassing style. He will surely be a champion again in 2016/17 – and soar up a list like this in the years to come. JB

74. Lucas Radebe

Lucas Radebe

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Lucas Radebe to Leeds during his time at Elland Road; the talisman of South African football was the rock around which several Whites’ sides revolved.

Radebe arrived in Yorkshire from Kaizer Chiefs in 1994, and after a difficult start under Howard Wilkinson, remained at the club for over 10 years to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most reliable centre-backs. He skippered the young side that finished fourth in 1998/99, then third a season later before 2000/01's memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals (which injury cruelly robbed him a part of, and much of his career thereafter). 

The Soweto-born defender was the face of South Africa’s return to the international stage and part of the side that won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. He remains a true Leeds legend. RE