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I played against Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso but Michael Essien was a tank and Man City hero made it horrible

Darren Bent’s career saw him battle against some of the all-time midfield greats of the Premier League era.

Paul Scholes, Xabi Alonso and Frank Lampard were among the names Bent faced during his 18-year career.

AFPDarren Bent recalled the time he played against two of the Premier League’s all-time great midfield stars[/caption]

But three midfielders stuck out above the rest for Bent as he was tasked with naming his ‘toughest Premier League XI’.

The former Tottenham, Aston Villa and Sunderland striker was unanimous in naming his toughest midfield trio

First up, Bent opted for former Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard to marshal his midfield before picking two Premier League heavyweights.

“Michael Essien was a tank he was horrible to play against,” Bent told talkSPORT. “He was powerful, he could run.”

The talkSPORT co-host then sided with a Manchester City legend and summed him up in just a few short words.

“Yaya [Toure]. Oh my goodness, horrible [to play against],” he added.

Ghana international Essien tasted Premier League football for the first time when Chelsea broke their transfer record by paying Lyon £24.4million for his services.

Boss Jose Mourinho had led the Blues to a first Premier League title since 1955 and swooped for Essien to bolster his already dominant squad.

Essien went on to represent Chelsea 256 times, scoring 25 goals and registering 20 assists over a nine-year spell.

After spells with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Panthinaikos, Essien eventually called time on his career in 2020 and is currently assistant manager of Danish Super League side FC Nordsjælland.

Bent says Essien was a powerhouse during his time at Stamford Bridge

Yaya Tour was ‘horrible’ to play against according to Bent

Meanwhile, Toure made a huge impression at Manchester City after signing from Barcelona for £24m in 2010.

The Ivorian, once described as the ‘new Patrick Vieira’, quickly impressed in a midfield consisting of Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong.

Toure played a key role in helping City land their first Premier League title in 2012 and his efforts were rewarded when he was named African Footballer of the Year for his role in City’s triumph.

The midfielder went on to play 316 times for City spanning eight years, scoring 79 times and adding 49 assists.

Toure departed in 2018 having won three Premier League titles and an FA Cup winners medal.

Spells at Olympiacos and Chinese Super League club Qingdao Huanghai brought the curtain down on a glittering career.

Toure is currently assistant to former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini with the Saudi Arabia national team.