Alan Shearer and Micah Richards have had their say on the Premier League’s best ever central midfield partnerships in the latest episode of the Match of the Day Top 10 podcast.
The show’s format sees both Richards and Shearer offer their top 10 footballers or teams on a range of topics, with this week’s edition perhaps the most comparable lists between them.
The English top flight is graced by some of the best midfield talents in football history, from domestic stars Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric.
As such, there was a wide range of elite duos to browse through, although surprisingly there was complete unanimity between both Richards and Shearer’s top five.
It’s probably no surprise that the duo who ultimately came out on top are regarded as one of the most successful combinations in the middle of the park, in terms of titles in England.
Frank Lampard (right) and Michael Essien played key roles in Chelsea’s rise as a Premier League powerhouse in the mid-2000s
Steven Gerrard (right) and Xabi Alonso won the Champions League together in 2005, but never won a Premier League title
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Both Shearer and Richards ranked Manchester United’s iconic duo Paul Scholes and Roy Keane as the best partnership ever – which is perhaps no surprise given their role in the most successful side in the competition’s history.
‘Well, 12 seasons together, six Premier League titles and three FA Cups between them – what more do you need?’ Richards claimed.
And Shearer agreed, adding: “It’s the perfect collaboration!”
There has long been debate about who is the best midfielder to ever grace the Premier League, with Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes the three most common picks.
Yet Richards believes Man City star Kevin de Bruyne has more than what it takes to snatch the title from under the former Liverpool captain’s nose.
De Bruyne made 243 appearances in the league, scoring 64 goals and assisting a further 105 – just 57 times behind all-time leader Ryan Giggs in almost 400 fewer appearances.
“If he plays a few more seasons in the Premier League he will become the best ever, beating Steven Gerrard,” Richards said.
Once again Shearer could only agree with his colleague, saying: ‘As much as I’d like to disagree, I can’t. He can play wide, he can play anywhere in midfield.
Paul Scholes (left) and Roy Keane (centre) won six Premier League crowns and three FA Cups between them
Alan Shearer described Scholes and Keane as the ‘perfect partnership’ in the middle of the park
Micah Richards claimed Kevin de Bruyne will become the best ever in the league if he stays for two more seasons
The Manchester City star is just 57 assists behind Ryan Giggs’ record after playing almost 400 fewer games
“He’s the only player I look back on and think, ‘I wouldn’t mind playing in the same team as you’, given the opportunities and the balls he puts in. He is every striker’s dream.’
N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwayer – who starred in that packed season as Leicester defied the odds to win the title in 2015/16 – were both named number 10, but Foxes fanatic Gary Lineker was still full of praise for the French star.
‘I think Kante will win on his own merit because he is a midfielder. Everyone always says he’s two players, so it should have just been ‘Kante and Kante’ and he would probably win.
“When he came to Leicester it was his first season with the team. Robert Huth was asked: “How do you win a Premier League title with a back four of Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs?” and he just replied: “N’Golo Kante!”
N’Golo Kante (centre) played a crucial role in winning the league with Leicester, before doing the same for Chelsea the following year