Last season, 536 players appeared in at least one match in the Premier League. Can you name them all? Of course you can't.
Manchester United's David de Gea and Tottenham's Hugo Lloris were the only two players to feature in all 3,420 minutes. At the other end of the leaderboard, Aston Villa's Wesley Moraes, Everton's Moise Kean, the West Ham United pair of Alex Kral and Daniel Chesters, and Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho all clocked just a solitary minute, according to Stats Perform. Garnacho, somehow, appeared in two matches, but still failed to reach the two-minute mark.
Here's another question you can't answer: Among that list, who was the best and who was the worst?
To really do that, and produce a list that even begins to approach analytical rigor, you'd need to know how much every action a player takes on the field is worth, and then you'd need to watch every single minute of every individual player. You can't do any of that, though, because the dynamic nature of the game and the fact that most of what happens in a match happens off the ball means it has elided any kind of comprehensive value metric. You also can't do it because you can't see what all of the players are doing when you watch a game on TV. And you also can't do it because time is finite.
Now, despite all of that, it doesn't mean we can't try. Ahead of the 2022-23 season, I tried to create a rating for the top 97 players in the Premier League. It's not perfect; as the famous quote goes, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." Some of your favorite players from your favorite teams will no doubt be ranked too low, but it does a good job of at least grouping the most valuable players together and provides plenty to think about before and after the season begins.
Let's get started.