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This is probably the biggest debate in English football. While there is no definitive answer to the question, it still sparks interesting conversation. It usually comes down to opinion and team playing style.
Let's start with Scholes. If you ask most professional players that have either played with or against him, the will say he's one of the best midfielders of his generation. Scholes has played pretty much every midfield position there is. Scholes possesses an incredible passing range - both long and short, accurate shooting ability and the unique ability to play as a deep-lying playmaker. He was more robust in his earlier years, deployed as a second striker, box to box midfielder and even on the left wing for England. Scholes' natural ability is such that he was able to retire, come back partially blind and still do bits in a prime United side. How can a man be partially blind and still see passes that able sighted midfielders could only dream of? One of the great midfielders of all time.
Now, Lampard. He's probably the least technically gifted of the three - but what he did, he did very well. Lampard was a goal scoring midfielder of the highest quality. To be Chelsea's all time leading scorer as a midfielder is nuts. 211 goals in 13 seasons. You can't chat to Frank when it comes to goals. Between 03-09 he was more of a box to box player. What made him unique was his ability to arrive late into the box and score goals. Time and time again, he'd make the third man run into the box and score crucial goals for Chelsea. His playmaking abilities were underrated. In the 09/10 season he recorded 18 assists in all comps as well as scoring 27 goals in just 51 games. Plus, he was never a man to shy away from a big occasion; he scored the goals to seal Chelsea's first league title win in 50 years as well as scoring a goal in the 08 CL final. Chelsea legend and England legend. Super Frankie Lampard.
Last, but not least, Stevie G. My favourite midfielder of the three. For me, he's the perfect combination of the prior two. At his peak, Gerrard was nuts. He single handedly dragged Liverpool to their CL win in 05 and the 06 FA Cup. Gerrard was capable of spraying 50 yard diags as well as intricate one-twos. The Scouser was also capable of spectacular strikes. He scored so many dumb goals, take his equaliser in the FA Cup final against West Ham. He had cramp, was basically on his last legs and still still banged it top bins from like 40 yards. His best quality, in my opinion, was his ability to lead by example. It could be argued that he thrived being a big fish in a small pond. I think that's lazy analysis personally, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Gerrard, for me, is the most complete of the three - able to play DM, CM and CAM, all to a high degree.
As I said above, there is no definitive answer to this argument. It all comes down to preference. For me, Scholes is the best footballer. Lampard is clearly best in terms of goal scoring. Gerrard is the most well rounded and the best leader. It's a shame that no English manager was able to get them to all play together in an effective and coherent manner. It could have been the best midfield in Europe. Now that all of them are retired, I hope we can appreciate them all for their individual talents. They are all greats of the game.
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