The Premier League probably has more superstars than at anytime before. From Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba to Virgil Van Dijk and Mo Salah, not to mention the now most talked about underrated player to grace English Football in many a year Roberto Firmino.
Yes, the headline-grabbing names don’t change week on week and with good reason. Every successful team needs match winners. Players who rise to the occasion, play the game at their own pace, who can conjure some magic out of nowhere and most importantly make match-winning contributions.
But, what of those players that don’t get the plaudits. Those hard-working, head down professionals, who consistently deliver for their team but often get overlooked by the media and pundits alike, while being dismissed by rival fans.
Well, we thought it high time to celebrate those underrated players, who quietly go about their business with little fanfare. Here’s our Premier League Underrated XI.
Lukas Fabianski – West Ham
Described by his manager Manuel Pellegrini after the victory over Manchester United as the best goalkeeper in the league, Fabianski has been outstanding since swapping Swansea for West Ham.
That game marked his 82nd consecutive Premier League appearance, and it was also his third clean sheet on the bounce. Fabianski appears to be at the peak of his powers and if anything is getting better.
Ricardo Pereira – Leicester City
Portuguese international Ricardo Pereira has been floating under the radar since Claude Puel splashed out for the Porto defender in May 2018. The flying full-back likes to get forward and has a keen eye for goal, having played as a winger earlier in his career. This was evidenced with his timely equaliser in the victory over Tottenham and the stats suggest he’s improving week on week.
Last season, his tackles clearances and interceptions per game was up there with the leagues best, while his propensity to get forward is underlined by his 3 goals and 6 assists so far for Leicester. Picked the players player of the year award last time out which speaks volumes.
Jannik Vestergaard – Southampton
Giant Danish centre back Vestergaard has some pretty big shoes to fill down on the south coast. Particularly when you look at predecessors Virgil van Dijk and Toby Alderweireld, Southampton fans have become accustomed to quality in the backline. At 6″6′ he’s too tall to go unnoticed but his dominant performances certainly haven’t got the credit they deserve.
Outstanding against Manchester United when all eyes were on £90million man Harry Maguire, Vestergaard continues to suggest he could yet be the next ‘big thing’ at Southampton.
Issa Diop – West Ham
Alongside Fabianksi another reason West Ham have made a sure start to the season is thanks in large part to their uncompromising central defender Issa Diop. Largely unnoticed last season perhaps down in the main to West Ham’s underwhelming campaign, but, his towering performances mark him out as a player of genuine potential.
At just 22, his performances are far beyond his years and while West Ham won’t want to hear it, Europe’s big guns will be circling. that being said, West Ham will certainly be in the running for European football this time around.
Lucas Digne – Everton
Another summer of promise and optimism seems to have quickly evaporated on the blue half of Merseyside. Great expectations aren’t being met and despite it only being September, Marco Silva is already under the cosh. One player whose performances deserve better, however, is left-back Lucas Digne.
How Barca let Digne go is a mystery, but Everton fans aren’t complaining. The Frenchman created more chances (71) than any other defender last season and if Silva could find someone to put the ball in the net, Digne might just save him his job.
Moritz Leitner – Norwich City
Moritz Leitner is one of those top-class footballers whose career somehow gets derailed and then winds up in the most unexpected of places, in this case, Norwich. Leitner’s pedigree is there for all to see. A member of Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund squad, a player he described this season as “awesome” and “an outstanding talent”, one does wonder how he wound up in the Championship last season?
What’s little surprise is how good he was in that league and appears to be thriving in the top tier also. His passing is out of this world, a silky operator in the heart of midfield who appears to play in a different timezone to everyone else. A proper jewel.
John McGinn – Aston Villa
John McGinn is a throwback but in a really good way. An energetic, uncompromising midfielder whose no-nonsense approach and work ethic make him a fan favourite. He was instrumental in Villa getting promotion last season and has taken that form into the Premier League, scoring against both Tottenham and Arsenal so far, while providing the backbone to some promising performances from Villa.
Both Arsenal and Man Utd are crying out for a player with McGinn’s honesty and endeavour, something tells us, however, that he won’t go chasing the big time. As honest as the days long.
Mattéo Guendouzi – Arsenal
This youngster definitely went under the radar when he signed for Unai Emery’s new-look Arsenal for the modest sum of £7million. Not so much underrated as overlooked thanks to Arsenal’s consistent inconsistency. Starting to make good on the promise, however, and his influence in the heart of the midfield is growing game by game.
Extremely comfortable on the ball and with great vision and passing, Guendouzi at the tender age of 20 looks set to be a superstar. He doesn’t mind rough and tumble either.
Adama Traoré – Wolves
Another former Barcelona protege. It seems remarkable that Adama Traoré is only 23 years of age. Having arrived in the UK as a promising signing for Aston Villa, Traoré found himself shipped off to Middlesbrough following Villa’s relegation and off the back of a good season in the championship he signed for newly-promoted Wolves in 2018.
It is this season, however, that he is truly showing his worth. With absolutely electric pace (Traoré has actually been encouraged to slow down and give himself more time to weigh up his options) and dribbling ability, he’s every defender’s nightmare, and playing in a deeper wing-back role, offers him more pitch to run into. Finally delivering.
Ashley Barnes – Burnley
As underrated players go Ashley Barnes is right up there in the Premier League stakes. The epitome of Sean Dyche’s ethic and approach but with a keen eye for goal, Barnes offers the kind of skillset and attributes that would have been lauded in yesteryear.
And he’s in a rich vein of goalscoring form. Since January Barnes has scored 17 goals and now holds the record as Burnley’s leading all-time Premier League goalscorer. Not bad for a fella who’s plied his trade at Paulton, Plymouth, Oxford, Salisbury, Eastbourne and Torquay.
Joshua King – Bournemouth
Despite a number of transfers including the likes of Jordan Ibe and Harry Wilson added to Lewis Cook and Ryan Fraser, Josh King still manages to hold down a place in Eddie Howe’s attack-minded team. The Norwegian arrived in England at Manchester United back in 2009 as a 16-year-old before later taking a series of loans, however, it was only in 2015 when he signed for Bournemouth that he settled down and established himself.
Bournemouth’s leading Premier League goalscorer, his work rate and direct approach out wide single him out as one of the league’s most overlooked and underrated players.
What are the underrated players from the Premier League you would have included? Let us know in the comments.
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