Now the title of this article: "European Football's Worst Footballers of 2012" is somewhat disingenuous because players from weak teams in the Andorran or Sammarinese League should theoretically fill this list.
But, that defeats the idea of this article, which is to give you an accurate list of footballers in Europe’s top flight (so players plying their trade in recognised European footballing countries) who’ve consistently looked out of place.
The following footballers are names that have been mentioned as failures in 2012, but this slide will tell you why they don’t merit inclusion on the main list.
Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, Utility Player, Age: 22
He’s had a stint as a No. 10, been in the heart of midfield, imitated Denílson in a deep-lying midfield position, was fine coming off the bench and recently, played out wide.
How can Ramsey be an elite footballer if he is asked to be a jack of all trades, master of none type of player?
To quote Gunners’ legend Frank McLintock (via BBC Sport):
Aaron [Ramsey] is doing what I did when I first went to Arsenal. I tried to do everybody's work, and I think that's what Aaron is trying to do now. He's a lad that's got a great engine in him, he's got a good honest attitude. It's a great aspect to have but ... he's trying to do everybody's job and he should concentrate a little bit on doing his own work and perfecting his own game.
Ramsey is a neat and tidy player, so there’s no reason to include him on this list.
Alexandre Pato, AC Milan, Centre Forward, Age: 23
This cartoon from goal.com’s Omar Momani sums up Pato’s misery with the Rossoneri. Players, who were injured for the large majority of 2012 like Pato won’t be considered for this list.
FIFA Club World champions Corinthians are in pole position to sign the former Internacional player, according to his agent.
Fernando Torres, Chelsea, Centre Forward, Age: 28
When Falcao faced an inexperienced Deportivo La Coruña’s centre-back partnership, El Tigre scored five times. When Torres played against a weak Aston Villa back three, he only scored once.
The Spaniard hasn’t shown a desire to be dominant because if he did, he would have scored against Corinthians. That said, he has 14 goals to his name this season, which is a decent return—still not good enough for a £50 million-valued forward.
Gervinho, Arsenal, Wide Attacking Midfielder, Age: 25
He passes when he should shoot, dribbles when he should pass and has mind-blanks in front of goals—Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and Bradford keeper Matt Duke can attest to that statement.
Though, Gervinho consistently drags opposing players out of position and is lively. He hasn’t been the most inefficient player in recent memory, so he shouldn’t be on this list, regardless of the hate he receives from his own supporters.
Loïc Rémy, Marseille, Centre Forward, Age: 25
He’s fallen behind André-Pierre Gignac and Jordan Ayew as the team’s No. 9. Rémy will be saying au revoir to the French club soon.
When Newcastle United signed Hatem Ben Arfa permanently after a loan spell, not only had he suffered a broken leg, his transfer value was at its lowest and his performances during his time at Marseille indicated that he was a fading star. Look at him now.
Macedo Novaes, Bastia, Goalkeeper Age: 29
Every time Paris Saint-Germain shot on goal, they scored.
He parried an innocuous Darío Cvitanich shot into his own net against Nice.
In a 5-2 loss to Lyon, he gifted Maxime Gonalons a goal, the same game where he also let a Steed Malbranque penalty slip underneath his body.
Novaes attempted to punch Sébastien Roudet’s corner, but missed, allowing Sochaux forward Sloan Privat to head home.
He’s the 2012 Ligue 2 Goalkeeper of the Year, meaning he had an excellent end to the 2011-12 Ligue 2 season but stumbled at the start of the 2012-13 season Ligue 1 season.
Mario Balotelli, Manchester City, Centre Forward, Age: 22
Yes, Mario’s 2012 didn’t exceed expectations productivity-wise, but you can make a case that it was hindered by off-the-field conflicts. Being called out by a City executive, taking the club to the tribunal (he later backed down from the decision), involved in an on-going dispute with the mother of his child, his brother being arrested, the never-ending-saga of his biological parents trying to mend their relationship with him (after they gave him up to foster parents) plus the tabloids reporting every indiscretion committed by Balotelli.
Here’s why he shouldn’t be on this list: a stand-out game in a win over Germany at the Euros. A brace in a 3-3 draw against Sunderland. Netted the stoppage-time winning penalty against Tottenham Hotspur. Kept his cool from 12 yards out against Borussia Dortmund in the 90th minute, even amidst mind games from Roman Weidenfeller.
Nicklas Bendtner, Juventus (Arsenal Loanee), Centre Forward, Age: 24
Even though he’s a running gag line among Bianconeri supporters, Bendtner stood up against Portugal at Euro 2012. Had a good game with a headed goal and an assist in the 3-3 draw vs. City. Scored the winning goal against Liverpool. Whilst Juve shouldn’t have signed him, he hasn’t been that bad in 2012.
Pepe Reina, Liverpool, Goalkeeper, Age: 30
His save percentage and saves per goal conceded is around the same as Iker Casillas and Víctor Valdés. Casillas is not only trying to stop opposing players from scoring but he's engaged in a cold war with his own manager. Valdés is Valdés. Reina needs to up his game, maybe sign a young gun at keeper to keep Pepe on his toes.
Stewart Downing, Liverpool, Right Attacking Midfielder, Age: 28
Had a spell as left-back, been on the left side of midfield, on the right wing, was as a bench warmer, a squad player—like Torres, he’ll never live up to his transfer fee.
Downing has steadily improved as has José Enrique thus did enough to avoid this list.