Manchester United legend Gary Neville has sparked debate this week by declaring that Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez make up the greatest front three in Premier League history.
Neville played alongside them as they won back-to-back Premier League titles as well as the Champions League between the 2007 and 2009.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Football Show, Neville said: ‘Tevez for a year with Rooney and Ronaldo was just breathtaking, it was out of this world. Not just because of the quality of the players, but there was a selfish, horrible, nasty determination with those three.
‘Ronaldo in a different way on the pitch, he wouldn’t go around kicking and hassling people, hustling, he was immense in terms of his performance levels, but Rooney and Tevez were street fighters but with unbelievable ability and there was something of that front three.
‘The best front three in the Premier League, you’ll never beat those three for me. You can talk about Mane, Salah and Firmino, I love them to bits, plus [Raheem] Sterling, [Sergio] Aguero and [Leroy] Sane at City but you look at that front three of Tevez, Rooney, Ronaldo at their peak, it was out of this world.’
In light of Neville’s comments, Sportsmail takes a look at the best attacking trios in the Premier League’s history.
5. Arjen Robben, Damien Duff and Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
They only had two seasons together but Duff, Robben and Drogba helped Chelsea dominate the English landscape between 2004 and 2006.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival as manager in 2004 saw blue become the colour as the Stamford Bridge outfit broke up the Manchester United and Arsenal duopoly.
Duff was already at Stamford Bridge, having been signed by Mourinho’s predecessor Claudio Ranieri in 2003, while Robben had already agreed a move prior to Mourinho’s switch. Drogba was the only direct recruit of the Portuguese’s – as he joined from French outfit Marseille.
In a league that was still predicated by 4-4-2 back then, Mourinho’s robust 4-3-3 provided a tactical nightmare for opponents. These three compounded matters with their dynamism, pace and power.
Question marks over the suitability of Duff and Robben playing in the same team were soon dismissed. Both were natural left wingers but it was Duff who played on the left and Robben on the right. The Dutchman constantly cutting in on to his left foot was a defensive nightmare and became his a trademark during an illustrious career.
Complementing the pair was Drogba as the spearhead up front. The Ivorian was often criticised for his diving and theatrics but he was their perfect foil.
During their two seasons together, the trio helped the Blues win back-to-back top-flight titles – including their first in 50 years – as well as the 2005 League Cup.
The fitness of Duff and Robben denied them the opportunity to play too much. They only featured in 27 Premier League matches together but they were unbeatable – winning 25 of those and drawing two.
4. Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
The arrival of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in 2016 has coincided with them having played the most aesthetically-pleasing football in the Premier League. But within all their beautiful intricate play they have a wonderful front three.
Sterling, Sane and Aguero have been a staple of Guardiola’s attack – despite City also boasting the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Bernando Silva in the ranks. Although it must be said that Silva has grown increasingly integral.
Sterling and Aguero were at City before Guardiola but the Spaniard did oversee the transfer of Sane from German side Schalke. After finishing trophyless in their first year under Guardiola, the Etihad outfit haven’t looked back – having won the last two Premier Leagues. The 2017-18 season was extra special as they broke numerous Premier League records, including most points (100).
Aside from the Premier League titles there is last season’s FA Cup triumph and successive League Cup wins achieved in 2019 and this year too. However, Sane didn’t play a single minute in the latter after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the Community Shield against Liverpool on August 4, 2019. But prior to that his raw pace and explosive strike gave many a full-back a headache.
The same could be said for Sterling who has become an excellent finisher under Guardiola. And in Aguero they have one of the greatest ever Premier League strikers. The Argentine is City’s all-time top goalscorer and currently sits fourth in the Premier League list with 180.
3. Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
It seems criminal to have players of the ilk of Pires, Bergkamp and Henry not higher but that’s the trouble with a subjective list: everyone will have their own opinion.
The main reason they are not considered higher is due to the fact they weren’t the quintessential trio like the names above them. This is primarily because they were in the era where 4-4-2 was king. Pires would be on the left-hand side of midfield, with Henry playing as the left striker and Bergkamp partnering him up front on the right.
However, despite that there is no doubting their credentials. Two Premier Leagues and FA Cups prove so. Oh, and they were part of the legendary Invincibles’ team of 2003-04.
In Pires came the guile, in Bergkamp came the sublime and in Henry came the ridiculous. These three helped create a brand of football under Arsene Wenger that was unrivalled in the Premier League – until Guardiola took over at City.
Out of the 128 Premier League games they featured in they combined for 272 goals. How Arsenal fans would yearn for those three again.
2. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Is there a greater front three in the world right now than Salah, Mane and Firmino? The answer is no.
Under Jurgen Klopp they are truly frightening and are more than just cogs in his well-oiled machine.
Salah and Mane are the wingers but in reality they’re inside forwards – plundering in goals at will. And although Firmino doesn’t chip in as regularly he is pivotal in creating space for those two, while linking play from midfield.
The Reds enjoyed a stellar 2019 – winning the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. Before the coronavirus pandemic struck they were on course to win the Premier League too – in what would be the club’s first top-flight title since 1990. The runaway leaders hold a 25-point lead over Manchester City with more than 75 per cent of the season played.
In 81 Premier League games together they’ve combined for 178 goals. If they can stay together for a few more seasons and win more trophies then there is the argument for them to usurp No 1…
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez (Manchester United)
Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez. They were Manchester United’s modern-day holy trinity emulating Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best.
The 2007-08 season saw them play breathtaking football with the trio scoring an astonishing 79 goals between them in all competitions. They also contributed 30 assists.
Under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson that output helped them achieve a Premier League and Champions League double. In addition, Ronaldo was crowned with the Ballon d’Or.
They backed that up the following campaign by regaining the title, reaching the Champions League final, winning the FIFA Club World Cup and and the League Cup.
The second season did see Tevez’s standards dip, as he battled the club over securing a permanent transfer at Old Trafford, but when all three were in tandem they were a joy to behold – especially in that first campaign. And in Ronaldo they had arguably the greatest Premier League player ever, alongside Henry.
In 42 Premier League matches that they all featured in they combined for 93 goals. A rate of 2.21 goals a game. It may have been only two years but they certainly left their mark on the Premier League as an attacking trio.