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Before we get started, a note. Footballers from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland are classed as homegrown for the purpose of this list - so apologies to Roy and Gareth, but you're ineligible. Without further ado, we give you each Premier League clubs best ever foreign player...
Arsenal: Thierry Henry
The stylish Dennis Bergkamp might be the romantic’s choice, but while the Dutchman was England’s finest player in 1997/98, Henry could claim to hold that title for at least five seasons.
After arriving in north London from Monaco in 1999, Henry went on to score 226 goals for Arsenal over the next seven years, becoming the Gunners' all-time top scorer in the process. The Frenchman won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups under Arsene Wenger, and also helped Arsenal reach the Champions League Final in 2006.
Bournemouth: Joshua King
Wait, he’s Norwegian? Despite the English-sounding name, King has stood out as the Cherries’ finest foreigner since arriving in the Premier League in 2015. The forward has been crucial to Bournemouth’s recent success, making more than 100 top-flight appearances and scoring 36 goals despite not always lining up through the middle.
His 16-goal haul in 2016/17 was a particular highlight, helping the Cherries to a club-record ninth-place finish. His top challenger is Dutch defender Nathan Ake, who only joined last summer but has shown superb form in that time.
There have been more flamboyant players, with Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross both contenders, while Valencia great Vicente showed signs of his illustrious past during two years at the Amex Stadium. Burno stands above them all.
Few predicted the right-back would lead the Seagulls to the top flight when he arrived on a free in 2012, let alone still be playing in the Premier League at the age of 38 in 2018. He doesn’t possess great speed or strength, but the veteran defender's anticipation and technique haven’t diminished.
Burnley: Johann Berg Gudmundsson
Sean Dyche has built his success on a predominantly British core, making this decision tricky – especially as choosing Bath-born ‘Austrian’ Ashley Barnes would be cheating. Danish goalkeeper Brian Jensen, ‘the Beast of Burnley’, is a good shout having played more than 300 games for the club including the triumphant 2009 play-off final, but he wasn’t always convincing.
Instead, we’ve gone with the first Clarets man to make it to a World Cup since 1982. Iceland midfielder Gudmundsson has been a regular in the starting XI since arriving in 2016, and provided eight assists and two goals to help them finish seventh last term.
Cardiff: Aron Gunnarsson
Like Burnley, Cardiff have built their current team on a British core and, despite some tremendous performances from Ivorian defender Sol Bamba last season, choosing their greatest foreigner therefore isn’t easy.
Gunnarsson has been more influential than most, though, having played 260 games for the club in the last seven years. The Iceland skipper’s influence has waned more recently as age and injuries have taken their toll, but he was named the club's Player of the Year in 2016/17 and has been key again this season.
Chelsea: Didier Drogba
Italian wizard Gianfranco Zola was arguably their greatest player of all-time until a new era of success was ushered in by the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and the club's best ever foreigner, Didier Drogba.
The Ivorian was a brilliant all-round No.9, displaying speed, mobility, strength, aerial prowess and devastating form in front of goal. He scored 164 times for the Blues and was always a man for the big occasion, scoring seven goals in domestic cup finals as well as the winning penalty in the shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League Final.
Crystal Palace: Attilio Lombardo
No, we’re not including Wilfried Zaha; he may be an Ivory Coast international, but he’s also got two England caps and the Selhurst Park faithful will tell you that the academy graduate is very much one of their own.
Goalkeeper Julian Speroni has played more than 400 games for Palace, but Lombardo’s short spell in south London was so impressive that he was (bizarrely) later named as manager. The Bald Eagle had creativity, skill and an eye for goal, and almost kept Palace in the top flight on his own: they were 10th when the Italian got injured in 1997/98 and bottom when he returned.
Everton: Tim Cahill
Cahill was a perfect fit for his club, and it didn’t take long for him to become synonymous with Everton despite his Australian roots. The Toffees have boasted more prodigious talents; Andrei Kanchelskis had a superb season at Goodison, Mikel Arteta had seven effective campaigns and Romelu Lukaku notched 87 goals in 166 appearances, but it was Cahill who became part of the fabric at Goodison Park.
The attacking midfielder, who was at times used as a striker by David Moyes, scored 68 goals in his eight years on Merseyside, and helped Everton finish fourth in his debut campaign in 2004/05.
Fulham: Clint Dempsey
We would have been happy to choose Dempsey simply on the basis of his amazing freestyle rap on Setanta TV, but thankfully his efforts on the pitch were equally impressive. Brought in for £2m in January 2007, the American’s winning goal against Liverpool in May helped them dodge the drop.
That was the first of 60 Dempsey strikes in a Fulham shirt, the most memorable of which came against Juventus en route to the 2010 UEFA Cup Final. His best season came in 2011/12, when he found the net 23 times in all competitions.
Huddersfield: Christopher Schindler
Huddersfield have a World Cup winner in their squad in Erik Durm, but he isn't in the running for the award. Aaron Mooy and Christopher Schindler are the leading contenders; both were key to the Terriers’ promotion to the top-flight and their subsequent survival last term.
Mooy is a classy ball-player and certainly possesses better technique than his defensive colleague, but we've gone for Schindler due to his consistency and influence at the John Smith's Stadium. It was also his penalty that secured Premier League football for Huddersfield in the 2017 play-off final against Reading
Leicester: Riyad Mahrez
Despite the best efforts of Kasper Schmeichel, N’Golo Kante and the rest of the Foxes’ miraculous title-winning squad, this one was easy. Based on pure ability, Mahrez may even be Leicester's greatest player of all time. In four and a half years at the King Power he confounded defences with superb dribbling, passing and finishing, with his 18-goal haul in the title-winning campaign helping him win the PFA Player of the Year award.
Even in each of his last two seasons at the club, when the winger seemed to be angling for a move away from the East Midlands, Mahrez hit double figures for goals and was frequently Leicester's standout performer.
Liverpool: Luis Suarez
Liverpool have had few better players in their long and storied history than the tenacious, talented Suarez. His ability was clear as soon as he arrived from Ajax in 2011, but his finishing occasionally let him down early on. That soon changed, though, and the Uruguayan delivered back-to-back 30-goal hauls in 2012/13 and 2013/14, almost firing Liverpool to the title in the latter campaign.
His performance against Norwich that season, in which he scored four times, was one of the outstanding individual displays ever seen in the Premier League. Suarez left for Barcelona in 2014, but he will always be remembered as a club legend at Anfield.
Manchester City: David Silva
This might raise some eyebrows. How can title-winning hero and all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero only be second here? Not to mention the likes of Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure. However, Spanish maestro Silva gets our vote, having consistently delivered from the Citizens’ midfield for nine seasons, scoring 50 goals and providing 77 assists in the top flight.
The numbers don’t do justice to Silva's influence, though. The Spaniard combines stunning technique with a strong work ethic, and can run a game like few others in European football. The £25m City spent on him in 2010 has been repaid many times over.
Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo
Like Arsenal, there’s a romantic option here. The signing of Eric Cantona in 1992 kick-started United’s modern era of success, with the Frenchman going on to inspire the club to win four of the next five Premier League titles.
If we're talking about the best player, though, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only choice. The Portuguese shone only sporadically in his first three seasons, but he was sensational in his final three as United secured a trio of top-flight titles and the Champions League. His 31-goal season in 2007/08 was one of the best individual campaigns in Premier League history.
Newcastle: Nobby Solano
Surely every team signs a well-dressed, trumpet-playing Peruvian winger at some point in their history? Solano, who first arrived at St James’ Park from Boca Juniors in 1998, won’t be a universally popular choice, with Fabricio Coloccini and David Ginola both strong contenders.
However, the Peruvian edged out both men thanks to his consistent performances in over 300 appearances for the club. Solano was a constant threat on the wing, combining flair with hard work and scoring 48 goals across two spells at St James' Park.
Southampton: Marian Pahars
There’s a strong tradition of foreign defenders becoming popular with the Southampton support, from Claus Lundekvam and Ken Monkou to legendary full-back Ivan Golac and, more recently, Jose Fonte.
However, none of the aforementioned players can boast the nickname ‘the Latvian Michael Owen’. Pahars scored both goals in 2-0 win over Everton soon after joining the club in 1999, securing survival for Saints; he went on to aid Southampton in future relegation battles too, scoring 36 Premier League goals in three seasons to more than repay his £800,000 transfer fee.
Tottenham: Ossie Ardiles
Tottenham boast plenty of contenders; Jurgen Klinsmann, David Ginola, Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Christian Eriksen, to name a few. But unlike most of their Premier League rivals, Spurs’ best foreigner came long before the modern crop.
Ardiles landed in London as a World Cup winner in 1978, and adapted to the physical English game with surprising ease. The Argentinian midfielder remained at White Hart Line for 10 seasons, securing an FA Cup, UEFA Cup and, most importantly, having 1981 hit ‘Ossie’s Dream’ released in his honour.
Watford: Heidar Helguson
This prize could soon be taken by a member of the current multi-national Watford side, as long as the likes of Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure don’t do a Richarlison and jump ship in the next few months.
For now, though, the honour goes to Helguson, a man whose legacy at Vicarage Road is unblemished. Arriving in January 2000 for £1.5m, the striker scored six goals in his debut season, before hitting 20 in the second division in 2004/05. That tally earned him a move to Premier League side Fulham, but Helguson later returned to Watford on loan in 2009, when he notched 11 more goals for the club.
West Ham: Paolo Di Canio
Need you ask? The maverick Italian is way ahead of the rest, and although some of his actions and opinions may split opinion, his ability as a footballer doesn’t. West Ham got the best out of a player Eric Cantona would probably describe as ‘too temperamental’, signing him from Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 after he’d pushed referee Paul Alcock to the turf.
The £1.5m fee proved to be a steal, as Di Canio delivered fire, flair and goals, most memorably that scissor-kick against Wimbledon. Alex Ferguson was impressed enough to make an unsuccessful move for the forward, who scored a total of 52 goals for the Hammers.
Wolves: Ruben Neves
Bakary Sako was a favourite at Molineux after racking up more than 100 appearances for the club, but it's hard no to pick a member of the current crop, which represents Wolves' most talented group of foreigners ever. Joao Moutinho has 113 caps for Portugal, Willy Boly is a solid centre-back and Diego Jota contributed 17 goals to last season's promotion push, but Neves has been the star of the show over the last two seasons.
The midfielder possesses tremendous technique and a fine range of passing, while he's also capable of the spectacular from distance. Still only 21, Neves has the potential to become a Wolves legend - as long as he isn't snared away by a Champions League club.
Premier League, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, AFC Bournemouth, West Ham United, Watford, Leicester City, Fulham, Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Burnley, Crystal Palace