The best Portuguese players in Premier League history – ranked

02 April 2021 11:00

The Premier League is often to referred to as the best league in the world, having been home to some of the best footballers the game has ever seen.

Among those, there have been 80+ Portuguese players to ply their trade in England up to now - and no, not all of them have played for Wolves. Many of them have played at the top end of the division and some have trophy cabinets bulging at the seams.

But who are the best? Here's your top 20 Portuguese Premier League players ever, ranked.

20. Raul Meireles

Another of the Portuguese contingency at Chelsea | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Clubs: Liverpool, Chelsea

During the early 2010s, the Premier League was all about physicality and energy in the middle of the park. Raul Meireles spent two years in England, one each with Liverpool and Chelsea.

With excellent ball retention, a good passing range and a wicked shot from range, he was an active part of both squads before leaving for Turkey and Fenerbahce with a Champions League and FA Cup winners medal.

19. Jose Bosingwa

Bosingwa was a flying full-back | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Clubs: Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers

Chelsea were the originators of bringing quality Portuguese talent to the Premier League, particularly in the Jose Mourinho days.

One such player was one-eyebrowed Jose Bosingwa, who bagged two FA Cup successes and a Champions League crown with the Blues before joining QPR. He wasn't brill, but he wasn't half bad.

18. Pedro Mendes

Clubs: Portsmouth, Tottenham

Probably best remembered for the 'goal' he didn't score against Manchester United for Tottenham, Mendes was a combative midfielder who loved to bang one home from long range.

He was part of the Portsmouth side that completed a 'great escape' in 2006, started by his goal against Man City which was, you guessed it, a screamer.

17. Deco

Deco's time in England was short but successful, just like him | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Clubs: Chelsea

Another man who spent a short time in the Premier League but made a lasting impression is Brazilian-born Portugal international Deco.

Joining Chelsea after illustrious spells with both FC Porto and Barcelona, Deco used his work-rate, excellent passing range and creativity to become part of a Carlo Ancelotti's title winning side that scored a then record 103 goals.

16. Cedric Soares

Another solid right-back | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Clubs: Southampton, Arsenal

Not the most spectacular of names on the list, but Cedric is the definition of a solid Premier League performer.

Part of an excellent defensive unit for Southampton alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk, he eventually secured a move to Arsenal - ousting fans favourite Hector Bellerin as first choice.

15. Ricardo Pereira

Pereira has been a shining light for Leicester since coming to England | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Clubs: Leicester City

When Ricardo Pereira joined Leicester as an ever improving 24-year-old, there was plenty of intrigue behind his decision to leave Porto.

It soon became apparent that his signing was one of a number of top quality purchases brought in to try and deliver regular Champions League qualification. Excellent at linking up play and driving forward, Pereira epitomises the modern day marauding fullback.

14. Joao Cancelo

Cancelo may be one of the best attacking fullbacks the Premier League has seen | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Club: Manchester City

At the time of writing, Joao Cancelo hasn't been a Manchester City player for very long - but that shouldn't detract from how good he is.

Another poster boy for the flying modern day fullback, Cancelo has proven himself to be one of Pep Guardiola's most reliable custodians - and do almost anything that's asked of him. Whether it be on the left, right or in central midfield, he can adapt to any situation - and look class doing so.

13. Tiago

Tiago won the title in his only season in England | Jo Caird/Getty Images

Club: Chelsea

Considering he spent just one season in England, Tiago is probably pretty high up on this list - but it's deserved.

In Jose Mourinho's first Chelsea side only five players made more appearances in the Premier League than the defensive midfielder as they romped to the title.

He was a regular in the team and holds the record for the lowest losing percentage of any player to make 20+ appearances in the competition at just 2.94% - once in 34 games.

12. Ruben Dias

Dias has been great in his debut campaign | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Club: Manchester City

Like Cancelo, Dias hasn't had much time to get his feet under the table at Manchester City.

His impact for Pep Guardiola's Cityzens can't be overstated, though - just look at the club's defensive record and John Stones' return to prominence to see just how good he's been.

11. Ruben Neves

Neves is still young but has been great for Wolves | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Club: Wolves

The youngest captain in FC Porto's storied history, Neves joined Wolves' revolutionary project early on.

A Championship title later, Neves was in the Premier League, forming one of the most consistent midfield partnerships with international colleague Joao Moutinho.

Destined for great things, it's only a matter of time before a big club - potentially in the Premier League - comes calling.

10. Joao Moutinho

The midfield maestro has been fantastic, despite his age | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Clubs: Wolves

Most midfielders turning up in the Premier League, aged 32 and standing 5'7 tall would struggle to adapt. Not if you're Joao Moutinho.

The diminutive playmaker's combative style allowed him to immediately take on all comers, and he played 76 out of a possible 76 Premier League matches in his first two seasons at Wolves - testament to his incredible fitness.

9. Diogo Jota

Jota has been a revolution at Anfield | Pool/Getty Images

Clubs: Wolves, Liverpool

Before joining Liverpool, Diogo Jota was flying with Wolves. He helped the Midlands side earn promotion in his first season on loan, before making his move permanent in the Premier League.

His two seasons with Wolves on the wing earned him a glowing reputation, and his pace, directness and eye for goal saw Jurgen Klopp opt to take him to Liverpool.

8. Jose Fonte

Fonte was a leader at Southampton | Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Clubs: Southampton, West Ham

Jose Fonte is arguably a Southampton legend for what he achieved on the south coast.

Joining the club when they were in League One, he stuck with the Saints all the way to the Premier League - and alongside Virgil van Dijk, helped them achieved a top six finish under Ronald Koeman.

Won the club's Player of the Year award in 2014/15 before a short spell at West Ham.

7. Luis Boa Morte

Boa Morte is a Fulham fan-favourite | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Clubs: Arsenal, Southampton, Fulham, West Ham

Boa Morte spent 14 years in English football, representing four different clubs and becoming the first Portuguese player to ever win the Premier League title (with Arsenal in 1998).

He's best remembered for his time at Fulham, lighting up Craven Cottage with his explosive pace and keen eye for goal.

6. Paulo Ferreira

Ferreira was the model of consistency | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Club: Chelsea

Ask Siri for the definition of reliable, and there's a fair chance he'll shout back at you Paulo Ferreira - the right back who followed Jose Mourinho to Chelsea in 2004 and stayed for nine years.

Ferreira won four Premier League titles with the Blues and made 141 appearances in the top flight, though his spell in west London was disrupted by injury. Positionally fantastic, he was excellent in the tackle and comfortable on the ball.

5. Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes has been nothing short of sensational since joining | Pool/Getty Images

Club: Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes' Manchester United career is still in its infancy, but by the time he's finished at Old Trafford, legendary status may well be afforded to him.

Starting his Premier League career like a house on fire, Fernandes immediately became the Red Devils' indispensable player - with anything and everything good going through him.

Kind of gives you Cantona vibes, which says it all.

4. Bernardo Silva

Silva is a technical wizard for Manchester City | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Club: Manchester City

There's something magical about left footed players on the right wing, and there's something very magical about Manchester City star Bernardo Silva.

A double Premier League winner in his first two seasons at the club, he was also named the club's Player of the Year - a nod to his remarkable consistency, superb dribbling ability, relentless work rate and genius creativity.

Add versatility into the mix and he's close to the complete package.

3. Luis Nani

Nani was flipping brilliant | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Club: Manchester United

The man who was seen as the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo's throne at Old Trafford, Nani was flipping brilliant - pun intended.

From either wing he was able to beat players with blistering pace and brilliant skill, while he also had a cannon of a shot with both feet. The only thing that let him down was consistency, but four Premier League titles in seven years, as well as a spot in the 2010/11 PFA Team of the Year, reflect how good his stay in Manchester really was.

2. Ricardo Carvalho

One of the best defenders to play in the Premier League | Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Club: Chelsea

Never mind being one of the best Portuguese defenders of his time, Ricardo Carvalho was one of the best defenders of his generation.

Brilliant in the air, Carvalho was a fantastic tackler who read the game perfectly and dominated his opponents physically. He complemented John Terry superbly, and arguably was the missing piece of Roman Abramovich's mega money jigsaw.

Three Premier League titles and a lasting legacy reflect Carvalho's west London impact.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Nobody has been better. | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Club: Manchester United

Was it ever going to be anybody else?

Cristiano Ronaldo scored 84 Premier League goals during his time in England, more than any other Portuguese player. He became only the second Premier League player to win the Ballon d'Or in 2008 and won a hat-trick of league titles with Manchester United.

The stats only tell half the story though, as Ronaldo genuinely elevated the level of all those around him - while he was one of the most feared opponents ever seen in England.

Source: 90min