Who Are the Most Underrated Players in the Premier League?
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It is an oft-heard expression in football—the most underrated player in a team, league or even country. Those star performers who for some unexplained reason tend to go unnoticed and pass under the collective radar. Men like West Bromwich Albion striker Shane Long, for example.
Just who are these characters in the Premier League, then?
In no particular order, here are the 10 most undervalued players currently operating in the English top flight.
Sylvain Distin (Everton)
The silky-smooth French centre-back has been operating in the Premier League for over a decade now, with his rock-solid displays at the back for the likes of Newcastle United, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Everton almost invariably tending to go unnoticed and not getting the attention they deserve.
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Another player grossly underrated by the watching public—as well as various England managers down the years, too—is Michael Carrick.
And this despite the fact the 32-year-old has won five Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League while at Old Trafford by “only” passing the ball to his team-mates, as his many critics unfairly like to point out.
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)
The most undervalued player in the top flight? Without a doubt.
The Argentinian has slowly begun to gain the recognition he deserves in recent times after a series of consistently outstanding performances in defence for the Citizens over the course of the past five years.
To think that he cost the big-spending North West outfit just £7.7 million from Espanyol in 2008.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
Brad Guzan is currently both the best and most underrated goalkeeper in the English top flight.
With that being said, at long last views are slowly starting to change about the American shot-stopper now that he has finally managed to dislodge Shay Given as the Villa No. 1.
Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea City)
Viewers of Match of the Day on Saturday night may have been surprised to see the technically accomplished Netherlands international score a goal of such quality against Sunderland at the Liberty Stadium.
However, anyone who has been closely following the 26-year-old’s career from Feyenoord to Real Mallorca and Villarreal before his arrival on loan in South Wales in 2012 will know this vastly underappreciated player is actually one of the most talented midfielders in the Premier League at present.
Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa)
It was a case of “Andy who?” when the Austrian initially broke into the Villa first team during the 2010-11 season.
Since then, following the 22-year-old’s eye-catching breakout campaign last time out under the canny management of Paul Lambert, fans and pundits alike have still been remarkably slow to pick up on the diminutive forward’s outstanding ability.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
In his debut campaign in North London last season, you’d have been forgiven for thinking the France international’s first name was “much maligned” or “misfiring”—so much flak did he take.
And this despite the fact that the striker still managed to find the back of the net on 17 occasions for the Gunners!
Matija Nastasic (Manchester City)
Matija Nastasic tends to be underappreciated more by supporters in general than by those in the media, who perhaps got to see the young central defender in action more during his first season in England following his move from Fiorentina to Eastlands in the summer of 2012.
However, that still did not prevent the Serb from surprisingly missing out on a nomination for the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year award in April.
Gareth Barry (Manchester City)
It appears Gareth Barry needed a change of club for the occasional England international to start getting the recognition he deserves.
The 32-year-old’s recent loan switch from Eastlands to Goodison Park has been accompanied by rave reviews of late, as if it was the first time spectators and critics had actually seen the holding midfielder play this well.
The fact is, Barry has been performing like this for years in the Premier League.
Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)
If I had a pound for every time the Brazilian water-carrier had been lambasted on a radio phone-in show by Liverpool fans, I would be a very rich man indeed.
However, the real sign that Lucas is truly underrated by Reds supporters is that those very same fans who criticise him then start to lament their side’s failings in his absence. It really has taken the 26-year-old six years to completely win over the Anfield faithful.
Now all the defensive midfield player needs to do is convince the rest of the watching public of his undoubted worth, too!