Players to Never Win the Premier League
Who Are The Best Premier League Players to Never Win The Title?
History is littered with world-class players that have fallen agonisingly short in their attempts to win the Premier League. These 15 superstars tried their hardest to seize glory for their clubs, but they ultimately could not follow in the footsteps of Eric Djemba-Djemba, Christopher Wreh and Ronnie Wallwork by clinching a Premier League winner’s medal:
The former Liverpool captain is one of the greatest players in Premier League history, but he never managed to lead his team to the title. The Reds finished runners-up in three different seasons during Gerrard’s career, including the 2013-14 campaign, when his infamous slip against Chelsea allowed Demba Ba to kill off their title dream. Gerrard turned down a lucrative move to the Blues in 2005 in order to remain loyal to his boyhood club, a decision that may have damaged his chances of seizing more silverware. Yet he led Liverpool to victory in the Champions League final and gained two FA Cup winner’s medals, but the title remained just beyond his grasp. It took the arrival of Jurgen Klopp and Virgil Van Dijk to end Liverpool’s title drought, and they are now the clear favourites in the Premier League odds whenever they head into battle.
The Welsh wing wizard was simply unplayable during his final three seasons at Tottenham. He gained a reputation for tearing past defenders and unleashing left-footed thunderbolts into the top corner. In the 2012-13 campaign, he scored 21 goals in just 33 Premier League games, and he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and Football Writers Association Player of the Year. However, Spurs could only finish sixth in the table, and Bale left for Real Madrid, where he has gone on to win four Champions League titles and La Liga.
Suarez was on fire in that 2013-14 season. Disciplinary issues and wayward finishing overshadowed the first half of his Liverpool career, but he knuckled down that year and emerged as the most lethal striker in the world. The Uruguayan forward hit 31 goals in 33 games and walked off with both Player of the Year awards, but Liverpool ended up finishing two points behind Man City in a gripping title race. Suarez moved to Barcelona in an €82.3 million deal and linked up with Lionel Messi and Neymar to form the most devastating attacking triumvirate in the business. They scored 122 goals between them, and won the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
Chelsea fans have previously voted Zola their greatest ever player. The Italian magician strutted his stuff at Stamford Bridge in the pre-Roman Abramovich era, so the Blues were not quite title contenders, but supporters could enjoy his talents on a regular basis. He scored 59 goals in 229 league games for Chelsea, won the FWA Player of the Year award in 1996-97, and won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, two FA Cups and the League Cup, while he also won Serie A alongside Diego Maradona at Napoli, but he never added the Premier League to his list of honours.
Gazza was widely recognised as the most naturally talented English footballer of his generation, but he made questionable decisions throughout his career. He famously turned down the opportunity to play for Sir Alex Ferguson at Man Utd, and instead he starred as a big fish in smaller ponds at Newcastle, Spurs, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton. His only winner’s medal in English football came in 1991, when he won the FA Cup with Tottenham, but he did win the SPL title twice with Rangers, and fans will always remember his moments of genius on the pitch.
The leonine forward was 35 years old and firmly in the twilight of his career by the time he moved to Old Trafford. However, he had already won six Serie A titles with Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, four Ligue 1 titles with PSG, and La Liga with Barcelona, so the Man Utd hierarchy hoped his winning mentality would rub off on their struggling squad. Despite his advanced years, Ibrahimovic was a revelation in the Premier League, running rings around defenders, scoring screamers and generally dazzling with his outrageous levels of self-confidence. He scored twice in the League Cup final to lead Man Utd to victory, and helped them beat Ajax in the Europa League final, but they struggled in the Premier League.
Carragher was another stalwart of the great Liverpool team that conquered Europe but regularly fell just short in the Premier League. He began his career as a full-back, but made a successful transition to centre-back under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez. Carragher is another Liverpool legend and he won every possible trophy apart from the Premier League. He can now be found regularly arguing with former Man Utd players in the Sky Sports studio.
The Chilean forward took the Premier League by storm when he moved from Barcelona to Arsenal in 2014. He banged in 60 goals in 122 Premier League games, and regularly terrorised opposition defences. However, the Gunners could only finish third in his inaugural season in English football, and then they were runners-up to Leicester the following term. They finished outside the top four in 2016/17 and Sanchez began to agitate for a move. He made the bizarre decision to choose Man Utd over a rampant Man City, who were the heavy favourites in the Premier League spread betting, and his career simply fizzled out.
The French defender had racked up an astonishing amount of silverware by the time he moved to Chelsea in 1998. He was fresh from winning the World Cup with France, while he had won the Champions League with both Marseille and AC Milan and clinched two Serie A titles. Blues fans were excited by the prospect of him carrying them to the title, but it never quite worked out. They won the FA Cup in 2000, but he was eased out of the team to make way for a young John Terry, and the rest is history.
Ginola brought Gallic panache and flair to Tyneside during his two seasons at Newcastle. He banged in the first goal during the Magpies’ famous 5-0 victory over Man Utd, and regularly impressed with his individual brilliance, but they could only finish second in both of his campaigns at St James’s Park. Ginola then moved to Tottenham, where he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year, but he could not win the title there either. He moved to Aston Villa and then played a handful of games for Everton before retiring.
Newcastle looked all but certain to win the Premier League title in the 1995/96 season. They brought in legendary Colombian striker Asprilla to play alongside Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand – another player who could feature on this list of greats that never won the title – with Ginola, Peter Beardsley and Rob Lee providing the service. They opened up a seemingly unassailable lead over Man Utd, but Fergie’s mind games got the better of Kevin Keegan and Newcastle imploded. For all his promise, Asprilla turned out to be a bit of a flop for the Magpies, and his career ended without much silverware.
We could devote most of this list to great Liverpool players that failed to win the Premier League – Robbie Fowler, Fernando Torres, Sami Hyypia, Javier Mascherano and Pepe Reina all spring to mind – but for the sake of variety we have limited it to just three. Alonso sits alongside Gerrard and Carragher as an absolutely phenomenal player who never quite managed to gain a Premier League winner’s medal. His passing was exquisite throughout his career at Anfield, and he helped them win many games, but it was never quite enough. Alonso went on to win La Liga and the Champions League with Real Madrid, and three Bundesliga titles at Bayern Munich, while he also won the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain, plus the Champions League at Liverpool, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.
It is surprising that one of the elite Premier League clubs never gave Defoe a chance to shine. Instead he had a journeyman career that took in West Ham, Bournemouth, Tottenham, Toronto FC and Sunderland before he moved to Rangers in 2019. Yet his goal scoring record was always brilliant, wherever he went. He is blessed with a low centre of gravity, an instinctive ability to create space for himself in the box and lethal finishing, similar to Fowler and Ian Wright. He is the eighth top scorer in Premier League history, with 162 goals, but he never won the title. He came the closest with Spurs, but their best finish was fourth during his time at the club.
Matt Le Tissier
Players that spend their entire career at a club are becoming a rarity in the modern game, and Southampton fans can look back fondly on Le Tissier’s career as they watch their brightest talents regularly leave for Liverpool. Le Tissier turned down a move to the Reds in order to stick with Southampton, and he will forever be a cult hero to the supporters. He was not exactly a great goalscorer, but he was undeniably a scorer of great goals. He won Goal of the Season for the 1994/95 campaign, but he could have won the award more frequently, as his top 10 strikes were all wondergoals.
Dutch superstar Gullit is another supremely talented player that graced Stamford Bridge before Abramovich arrived to transform Chelsea’s fortunes. He moved from PSV to AC Milan for a world record transfer fee in 1987, and won three Serie A titles and two European Cups alongside countrymen Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, before spending a season at Sampdoria and then moving to Chelsea aged 32. He initially dropped deeper and played in a sweeper role for the Blues, but then returned to the midfield and impressed with his range of passing, vision and quality on the ball. Gullit quickly became Chelsea’s player manager and led them to the FA Cup in 1997, their first major trophy in 25 years, but they could not finish higher than fourth in the table during his time at the club.