Due to the current international break, 101 Great Goals wanted to pay homage to the many foreign players that have helped build the Premier League into what it is today. Spain is our next port of call on our journey, with the Iberian nation’s ability to develop players with otherworldly ability coming to the surface when an influx of Spanish talent began to find their way to the top level of football in England.
Headlined by players the likes of David Silva, Cesc Fàbregas, and Fernando Torres, Spain’s mark on English football is undeniable after their influence led to countless success stories in Manchester, Liverpool, and London.
GK: Pepe Reina (Liverpool, Aston Villa)
This likely ruffled some feathers given the fact that Manchester United stalwart David de Gea was not given the nod here, but former Liverpool shot-stopper Pepe Reina was a class act if there ever was one. Eight seasons at Anfield yielded three golden glove awards for the Spanish international, three major domestic honors, and a UEFA Super Cup win. His consistency outstrips De Gea, which is as good a reason as any to include him.
RB: César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)*
Still on the books in west London with Graham Potter’s Chelsea, veteran defender César Azpilicueta makes this XI not just on account of few options being worthy of the nod, but on his own merit and then some. Now in his eleventh season at Stamford Bridge, the Basque defender has been a fantastic servant for the club while helping them to a combined eight major honors at home and abroad while making 343 PL appearances.
CB: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)*
Like the aforementioned Azpilicueta, Aymeric Laporte has built a very credible career in the Premier League since his 2017 arrival from Athletic Club before going on to become one of the mainstay defenders under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad. Still featuring for the club in the current 2022-23 campaign, Laporte’s career has been heavily hit by injury but when fit, he’s one of Pep’s top NCO’s on the pitch for good reason.
CB: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
A cult hero in the north end of the English capital, Nacho Monreal was, for a long time, a vastly underrated and undervalued piece of the puzzle at Arsenal. But over time, his consistency when called upon, key goals in big games, and willingness to slot into any role that was asked of him, the Spanish defender is now viewed with warm affection among Arsenal supporters today. Helping the club to three FA Cup wins hardly hurts his reputation.
LB: Marcos Alonso (Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland, Chelsea)
First getting his chance in England with Bolton Wanderers, Marcos Alonso would not make a name for himself in the Premier League until he moved to Chelsea after a loan spell away from Fiorentina with Sunderland. Six seasons later, Alonso helped the Blues to five major honors on the domestic and European fronts respectively while also chipping in with 25 goals from defense in what was a very credible period in the capital.
CM: Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
One of many Spanish midfielders in the same generation that all reached the very top of the footballing pyramid across Europe, Xabi Alonso arrived at Liverpool as a 23-year-old and immediately became a vital asset on Merseyside across five years before making the jump to Real Madrid. His ability to command and control the center of the park from deeper areas was key in the club’s Champions League success as well as their 2005-06 FA Cup win.
CM: Cesc Fàbregas (Arsenal, Chelsea)
Much like Santi Cazorla (who, yes, features below) Cesc Fabregas was what dreams were made of after Arsenal prized the immensely talented midfielder from Barcelona’s academy before watching him immediately come into the first team and never look back. He broke countless hearts when he left to return to Barça and then even more when he went to Chelsea later on but across both PL stints, he accrued more appearances (311) than any other of his countryman apart from David de Gea and more assists (111) than any other Spanish player.
RAM: David Silva (Manchester City)
For many in the northwest of England, David Silva is the best Spanish player to ever grace a football pitch in the Premier League; and it is an opinion that certainly carries validity. Across a decade at Manchester City, the former Valencia standout would go on to make the third-most appearances, the second-most goals, and second-most assists of any Spaniard in league history while helping City to eleven major honors along the way. Legend.
CAM: Juan Mata (Chelsea, Manchester United)
Quietly effective across two credible stints at rival sides Chelsea and Manchester United, Juan Mata’s name remains high on the list of achievements from a Spanish perspective through the lens of the Premier League. Fourth in goals and third in assists among his compatriots, Mata’s period with Chelsea was especially good from a personal perspective due to an FA Cup triumph while also bagging both Champions League and Europa League honors.
LAM: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
There isn’t a single Arsenal supporter to this day who feels nothing but unbridled admiration for the diminutive goalscoring creative. Santi Cazorla arrived from Malaga in 2012 and immediately put the Premier League to rights; hitting 12 league goals during his debut season. Over the course of his time at the Emirates, his shift into midfield unlocked a new version of the player that helped bring in a new era for the position.
CF: Fernando Torres (Liverpool, Chelsea)
Many might look across Fernando Torres’ career in England and sight his poor spell at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea as a credible stick to beat him with, but the talented striker was for a time one of the most feared front-men when he was at Liverpool. Sixty-five goals in 102 Premier League appearances for the Reds paints a picture of a player who was at the peak of his powers, with his debut season in 2007-08 particularly special and setting him on his way to becoming the top-scoring Spanish player in PL history.