The Premier League has been blessed with an abundance of German talent over the course of its history. Many German natives still play their football in England such as Emre Can and Philipp Wollscheid. Although Germany and England may be famous rivals on the pitch, many Germany international choose to play their football in the Premier League.
We attempt to choose an XI of the best German players to have graced England’s top division…
Goalkeeper – Jens Lehmann (Arsenal)
Jens Lehmann was provided with huge shoes to fill when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2003. The keeper was signed as the replacement to legendary goalkeeper, David Seaman. His debut season in London was hugely impressive as he played every game in Arsenal’s unbeaten season earning himself a Premier League winner’s medal. The 46-year-old also holds the record for consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League with a total of 10.
Right-Back – Markus Babbel (Liverpool, Blackburn)
Markus Babbel was an integral member of a successful Liverpool side during his time with the Reds. He was famous for his charging runs from the right-hand side which led to a goal in the UEFA cup final. His time at Liverpool was unfortunately cut short due to Guillain–Barré syndrome which ruled him out of action for a season. He successfully made a return to Blackburn and is now manager of FC Luzern in Switzerland.
Centre-Back – Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
Per Mertesacker arrived at Arsenal in 2011 when Arsene Wenger spent £8m in order to prise him away from Wolfsburg. The majority of the German’s good form has come when playing alongside Laurent Koscielny. However, the Gunners have suffered without the Frenchman in the heart of defence. Mertesacker now faces a battle for his future following another failed title challenge by Arsenal. Nevertheless, the 31-year-old is still a Bundesliga and World Cup winner with his home nation.
Centre-Back – Jerome Boateng (Manchester City)
No-one at Manchester City would have expected Jerome Boateng to blossom into the defender he is today. He swapped Hamburg for Manchester for around £10m in 2010 but struggled with injuries and was forced to play most of his games at right-back. The German expressed his desire to leave in search of first-team opportunities and was signed by Bayern Munich. The 27-year-old has now become one of the best defenders in world football since his move back to Germany.
Left-Back – Christian Ziege (Tottenham, Liverpool)
After spells with Bayern Munich, Milan, and Middlesborough, Christian Ziege signed for Liverpool for around £5.5m. The left-back was considered a dead-ball specialist but struggled for game time during his time with the Reds. Ziege was then sold to Tottenham where injury problems mounted and he required surgery to prevent his right leg from amputation. Ziege had various coaching roles and is now manager of Atlético Baleares.
Defensive Midfield – Dietmar Hamman (Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester City)
Kenny Daglish convinced Dietmar Hamman to join Newcastle following the 1999 World Cup before he moved to Liverpool for £8m to join Gerard Houllier. He instantly became a fan favourite and a hugely effective player for the Reds in a defensive midfield role. Hamann also played through the 2005 Champions League final with a broken toe. The German later moved to Manchester City.
Centre Midfield – Michael Ballack (Chelsea)
Michael Ballack will be remembered as one of Germany’s best midfielders following a long illustrious career where he was named German Player of the Year three times. Chelsea managed to sign Ballack on a free transfer after leaving Bayern Munich. Ballack spent four years at Stamford Bridge where he managed to lift three FA Cups and collected a Premier League medal.
Centre Midfield – Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United)
Louis van Gaal managed to convince Bastian Schweinsteiger to join Manchester United in the summer when he finally ended his long association with Bayern Munich. In doing so, he became the first German to ever play for United’s senior side. He has made 31 appearances for the Red Devils in his debut campaign, scoring one goal.
Attacking Midfield – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The PFA Team of the Year was released recently without the name of Mesut Ozil. Despite being nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, which went to Riyad Mahrez, Ozil was not selected in the voted XI. His form has been exceptional this season with 18 assists for the Gunners; breaking the Premier League record. In 2016, he has only registered two of those assists which could be due to Olivier Giroud’s goal-drought. Ozil will be hoping Arsenal can strengthen in the summer and challenge for the title again next season.
Forward – Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)
Koln hero, Lukas Podolski, joined Arsenal following his former club’s relegation in 2012. He ended his first season in England with 16 goals and 11 assists as he became one of Arsenal’s most important players. He lifted the FA Cup with his new side in his second season and also won the World Cup with Germany. The former Bayern Munich forward fell out of favour under Wenger following the arrival of Alexis Sanchez and left on loan to Inter Milan. A permanent move to Galatasaray soon followed for the 30-year-old.
Forward – Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham)
Current USA manager, Jurgen Klinsmann, completed a controversial transfer from Monaco to Tottenham in 1994. The German did not receive the warmest of welcomes after playing in the West Germany side that knocked England out of the World Cup. Klinsmann soon won the fans over after scoring on his debut. He was also named the Football Writers Association Player of the Year in 1995. The striker ended his maiden season in England with 30 goals in 50 appearances and will also be remembered as one of Tottenham’s greatest players.
Who do you think is the greatest German player to play in the Premier League?