Laziest Players in World Soccer

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

Laziest Players in World Soccer

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    Laziness is inescapable in the world of football.

    If a top professional isn't pulling his weight, the masses will let him know. When your job includes a great deal of running, you better keep those legs moving.

    Even the greatest teams are hindered by lazy individuals.

    I've taken a look at 10 players who need to improve their work rate if they are to remain successful.

    We've got cocky midfielders, trundling wingers and plenty of strikers who love to take the glory.

    Please note this is not a definitive list. Head to the final slide if you want to add your own inclusions.

    If you're not too tired, feel free to read on.

Lukas Podolski: Arsenal

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    Let's get this one straight: Lukas Podolski's career is going through a major transition.

    The German didn't have to excel himself to become a star in the Bundesliga. His natural talent was enough to distinguish him as one of the country's hottest properties.

    Podolski is blessed with athletic ability and the directness to be a physical threat. He hasn't always used this these attributes to his full potential.

    This is a player who regularly partied in Cologne, slacked off in training and failed to perform defensive duties during important matches.

    Former Germany coach Berti Vogts spoke about Podolski's move to Arsenal back in September (via ESPN):

    He had too many friends in the city. He got praised as a great runner if he ever got back to defend three times in a game.

    He got an easy ride and he believed his own publicity. But now he has a coach at Arsenal in Arsene Wenger who will make him work hard in training as well as matches.

    If Podolski fails to train properly twice or three times he won't get games. That is the way to develop him into a true professional.

    Podolski's work ethic is likely to improve the longer he stays in the Premier League. The striker recently announced his disappointment at being utilised as left winger for Wenger's side (via The Daily Mail). Perhaps he can't handle the tracking back?

Nani: Manchester United

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    Some wingers frustrate because they can't deliver a ball. Some wingers frustrate because they rarely dribble past opponents. Some wingers frustrate because they leave their defence exposed.

    Some wingers frustrate because they do all of these things. Nani is this type of winger.

    I've covered the pitfalls of Nani's style plenty of times in the past. His lack of effort has resulted in extended periods on the bench, extra pressure when he comes on the pitch and increased scrutiny from Manchester United fans,

    Worst of all, Nani has continued to risk the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson (via Sky Sports).

    Many will put his ineffectiveness down to poor form—but this stems from his total inability to work hard.

    Will the former Sporting Lisbon player be shipped away from Old Trafford for this very reason?

Dimitar Berbatov: Fulham

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    Dimitar Berbatov is the archetype for all lazy forwards.

    Many suggest his unwillingness to run is purely down to style. He's a genius with the ball at his feet, so he should be excused basic duties, right?

    Wrong.

    I'll let the former Manchester United player explain exactly how lazy he is to you. He does a better job than I could ever muster.

    In an interview with Manchester Evening News, the Bulgarian had this to say:

    "You are not going to see me puffing around the pitch. There is a saying in Bulgaria that great quality doesn't require much effort."

    That's very true Berba.

    Although great quality doesn't require much effort, staying at one of the world's top clubs does.

Adel Taarabt: Queens Park Rangers

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    Adel Taarabt is a believer of his own hype.

    During his first Premier League season with QPR, he insisted PSG would swim across the English Channel to claim his signature (via The Daily Mail).

    While his Championship form had been excellent in the previous year, Taarabt's ego quickly overshadowed his ability at the top level.

    A year down the line, he remains at Loftus Road.

    It must be said, the Moroccan international has picked his legs up in recent weeks—his shins no longer splint under the weight of sprinting into QPR's half.

    Even so, any player that is called out by Joey Barton deserves to take a look at himself.

    If one of football's biggest dunces speaks sense, you need to change your game . Barton chatted to Rock 'N' Roll Football on Absolute Radio Extra (via The Guardian):

    "At the end of the day this is the top level of world football, and if you're not prepared to work hard you'll come up massively short.

    "If I was Adel and I had Adel's ability I'd not be wanting to come up short having not worked hard enough. He was told he was a genius; I've yet to see it, and I don't know whether that's because he doesn't work hard enough or whether he tends to sulk."

Nicklas Bendtner: Juventus (on Loan from Arsenal)

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    Nicklas Bendtner is a hilarious man.

    The player once scored 10-out-of-9 on a self perceived competence test (via The Daily Mirror). He also suggested he deserved to earn £50,000 per week at Arsenal because he gave up skiing (via The Daily Mail).

    Just think about these stories for a second.

    Bendtner has proven so useless that Arsene Wenger decided to loan him out to Juventus. Even Marouane Chamakh kept his place at the club.

    Why the Serie A giants wanted Bendtner is one of football's most recent conundrums—he is yet to score in five Italian appearances.

    The Danish enigma performed admirably in his loan spell at Sunderland last season. He showed greater fight and quality when surrounded with players who must work hard to produce results.

    Bendtner needs to play in an industrious side. Otherwise he tends to mistake his ability with the talent of others.

Daniel Sturridge: Chelsea

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    Daniel Sturridge has massive potential, we all know that.

    The former Manchester City striker made quite an impression in his loan spell at Bolton Wanderers during 2010-11 Premier League season. He is skillful, full of pace and has great finishing ability.

    Since moving to Chelsea, Sturridge's shortcomings have been amplified. Andre Villas-Boas insisted on using him as a winger at a time where Chelsea had the talent of Didier Drogba to rely on.

    The youngster's lack of discipline became more obvious, as Sturridge continuously failed to track back in times of need.

    For the most part, the talented player looked as if entering the Chelsea half was an unethical thing to do.

    Roberto Di Matteo needs to work on Sturridge's laziness. He is no longer needed as a winger—Chelsea have Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and Marko Marin in that area.

    Perhaps the England international will work harder if he is afforded an opportunity to star in Fernando Torres' lone striker role?

Benni McCarthy: Orlando Pirates

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    It takes a special kind of lazy to grow overweight in football. Professional players take part in rigorous exercise nearly every day of the week—science suggests being too chunky is a difficult feat.

    Benni McCarthy managed it; the former Premier League player wasn't the most mobile in his time at Blackburn Rovers or West Ham United.

    In fact, the West Ham board fined McCarthy £200,000 for being fat (via The Daily Mail).

    This wasn't the first time the striker received a warning. At Blackburn Rovers, the meaty Sam Allardyce grew frustrated with McCarthy's lack of fitness and conduct (via The Daily Mirror).

    The former Porto man wasn't able to return to decent shape in time for the 2010 World Cup.

    He was omitted from the South Africa squad and failed to make an appearance in front of his own supporters.

    Now playing for Orlando Pirates in his South Africa, the 35-year-old isn't likely to make much of an impression across the rest of his career.

John Carew: Free Agent

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    I've got a new nickname for John Carew. From now on he must be known as "The Statman."

    Does the Norwegian deserve this moniker due to a career of amazing statistics? Does he reach destinations at the speed of light? Not quite.

    Instead, this new alias stems from his ability to remain completely static. As indicated by Lyon advisor Bernard Lacombe, Carew's lack of movement is almost farcical (via The Birmingham Mail).

    Carew is a large man. Most large men aren't blessed with great speed. This should be combated with a tireless work rate and desire to overpower opponents.

    Needless to say, the former Valencia forward left many managers disappointed with his output. He is currently without a club, and has recently become bankrupt (via The Daily Mail).

    Right now, there's Norway he will overcome this crippling laziness.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Paris Saint-Germain

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    It's an odd time to be criticizing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    The football world is currently praising his every move after he netted four goals against England—one of which was an absolute stunner.

    The charismatic Swede is famed for such brilliance.

    Unfortunately, his entire career has also been blighted by his inability to perform for the team.

    You won't see Ibra tracking back or closing the opposition down, he will simply wait for his opportunity to gain possession from a teammate's pass.

    When he does put a little effort in, results are usually disastrous.

    Marco Materazzi was nearly on the end of a kung-fu kick a few years ago in the Milan derby, while Stephane Ruffier received the full force of Ibramhimovic's boot during PSG's clash with Saint-Etienne.

    Maybe it's safer if Zlatan remains lazy.

Mario Balotelli: Manchester City

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    Mario Balotelli's relationship with Roberto Mancini is an honest one.

    The Manchester City boss criticises Balotelli's laziness when it is appropriate (via Metro). He is willing to cut the striker from his squad if performance levels dip (via The Sun).

    Like a father loving his only child, Mancini always gives his fellow Italian the benefit of the doubt in the end.

    Berbatov and Ibrahimovic should be considered workhorses alongside Balotelli. The 22-year-old loves to occupy the periphery of a match, lurking around the area or taking up ineffectual wide positions.

    He waits to receive the ball rather than running towards possession. Balotelli doesn't use his diverse physical ability to win as many games as he could—he slumps into a disappointing slumber instead.

    It's a real shame. The former Inter Milan striker has the attributes to destroy any defence in the world.

    His display against Germany at Euro 2012 indicates he is a world class talent when he wants to be.

    Right now, Balotelli is more likely to sulk than score on a consistent basis.

     

    Who do you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter: