“Never go back to your former club.” It’s one of football’s most famous clichés and a phrase that regularly crops up when a player is linked with a return to one of his previous employers.
Whether that applies to Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid, we’re not so sure. But it got us thinking – which names from the continent would we most like to see return to their old Premier League stomping grounds?
With apologies to Salomon Rondon, Idrissa Gueye and Romelu Lukaku, here are the four we’d most like to bring back to the top-flight of English football.
Interest over the Welshman’s future is usually enough to keep the rumour mill powered for a whole summer. But wouldn’t it be great to see him lighting up the Premier League with Tottenham once again?
It’s been seven years since Bale last plied his trade in the EPL, picking up a clean sweep of PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and FWA Footballer of the Year awards to boot.
We reckon it’s fair to say he’s only improved since then. And with Harry Kane crying out for support up-front, just imagine how exciting Spurs could be to watch with Bale back amongst their forward ranks.
There’s little to no chance of Hazard performing a dramatic U-turn and swapping the Bernabeu for Stamford Bridge any time soon. If he can’t cope with the Spanish sun, though, we’d love to have him back.
It’s fair to say the Belgian was Chelsea’s standout player for most of the seven years he spent in West London, during which time he contributed 85 goals and 54 assists from an advanced midfield position.
He wasn’t always the easiest to keep focused, as the numbers from one or two barren seasons would attest, but he often won games on his own for the Blues, and that sort of individual brilliance cannot be ignored.
Payet’s exit from West Ham in 2017 was more becoming of a TV drama than a footballer. Even so, that shouldn’t detract from just how impressive he was for the Hammers during his brief stint in East London.
The Frenchman scored 11 goals and made 18 assists in 48 Premier League appearances. He also earned a nomination for the 2016 Ballon d’Or, where he finished ahead of both Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.
They truly were heady days at the London Stadium. And while it may take apologies and forgiveness all-round to bring him back, there’s no doubting the top-flight is a worse place without the brilliance and magic of Payet.
Losing Costa out of your side is probably a bit like losing your front teeth; there’s no bite. And in truth, Chelsea haven’t procured a set of replacement gnashers that carry the same threat since the Spaniard left in 2017.
Alvaro Morata, Michy Batshuayi and more recently Tammy Abraham have all played their part to one degree or another, the latter particularly so, but none of them really live up to Costa, who hit 52 goals in 89 PL games.
It’s not just his goalscoring ability that we miss, though. Rightly or wrongly, the Atletico-man was also one of the division’s all-time great pantomime villains, and for that alone we’d love to have him back.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication