25 Most Overrated Footballers Right Now

Dan ColasimoneContributor IJanuary 22, 2014

25 Most Overrated Footballers Right Now

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Ranking the most overrated footballers in the world is always going to cause controversy.

    Here, though, we attempt to pick out 25 players who, for various reasons, can be considered overrated.

    It should be stated clearly that just because someone appears on this list does not mean they are not a fine footballer.

    All of the names here, in fact, are quality players. Some are among the best in the business.

    But each footballer here is overrated in some sense.

    Perhaps they have been the subject of a massive transfer fee (or multiple transfers) that has overinflated their value. Maybe one set of fans idolizes a player a little more than is warranted when considering his contributions on the pitch.

    Likewise, the media can sometimes garnish far more attention on certain players than their actual achievements warrant.

    Enjoy the list, and let us know in the comments section if you agree or disagree.

25. Gerard Pique

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    Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

    With a World Cup, a European Championship, three Champions League titles and five league titles to his name, Gerard Pique has achieved an enormous amount in his young career.

    But is he really that good a defender? He is a solid presence at the back, and his size has proven valuable in attack and defense for both Barcelona and Spain, but he certainly cannot be rated as one of the great centre-backs, despite all the trophies. 

    Dating Shakira and playing for two of the best teams in history at club and international level have given Pique a high profile, but as a footballer he is merely adequate, rather than being brilliant.

24. Kevin-Prince Boateng

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    Caroline Seidel/Associated Press

    Though possessing a considerable amount of skill and an ideal physique for a footballer, Kevin-Prince Boateng so often underwhelms on the pitch.

    Part of the problem may be that no manager has yet figured out his ideal position. He looks to have the technique to be an attacking midfielder, but has not shown enough creativity or consistency to establish himself as a true No. 10.

    Nor does he have the graft and dedication to be a world-class defensive or box-to-box midfielder. It took three years for Milan to come to the conclusion that Boateng would not fit into their team, and now Schalke 04 are attempting to find out his ideal role.

    Occasional moments of breathtaking brilliance from the 26-year-old only serve to remind us all of just how good he can be if everything falls into place for him.

23. Mathieu Flamini

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    When he left Arsenal in 2008, Mathieu Flamini was a highly-regarded midfielder who appeared to be on the brink of something big.

    The Gunners had a host of options to call on in the center of the park at that stage, but by the 2007/08 season, the Frenchman had established himself as one of their classy midfield linchpins alongside Cesc Fabregas.

    Flamini never really took off in Serie A, however, and became more of a backup or utility player for AC Milan. 

    He moved back to Arsenal in August, 2013, and, although he has made some worthwhile contributions to the cause thus far, at 29 years of age his best days may have come and gone without him reaching the heights he could have.

22. Karim Benzema

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema is currently leading the line for one of the biggest clubs in the world, yet he has never really grasped on to superstardom despite being given plenty of opportunities to do so.

    He gives the impression of being a supreme athlete rather than a natural footballer and his attitude, at times, also appears to have held him back.

    Real Madrid opted to release Gonzalo Higuain and hang on to the more hyped 26-year-old Frenchman at the start of this season; a decision which they may live to regret if they are just pipped to the La Liga title by one of their fierce rivals. 

     

21. Iker Casillas

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    He's a tremendous professional, great leader and excellent goalkeeper, but Iker Casillas does not have the technique to be regarded as the best goalkeeper on the planet, as he was by many pundits for a number of years.

    Though a reflexive shot-stopper, the World Cup winner errs in his decision-making too frequently and has never been as dominant in the area as say, Gianluigi Buffon.

     

20. Steven Gerrard

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    It is perfectly understandable why Steven Gerrard is worshiped by the red half of Merseyside.

    A faithful servant of Liverpool for more than 15 years, he has been the driving force behind the club's most jubilant moments during that time span; most notably leading them to glory in the Champions League in 2004/05.

    Gerrard's performances for England, however, have highlighted certain flaws in his game that indicate he is perhaps not the all-conquering juggernaut he is sometimes portrayed to be.

    A lack of tactical discipline, and a penchant for the spectacular when something simple would do, mean that the hard-running, lion-hearted player can occasionally complicate life for his manager by going off script. 

19. Alvaro Arbeloa

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    Real Madrid have a squad brimming with superstars. It's somewhat surprising, then, that a player of mediocre ability like Alvaro Arbeloa has played over 100 games for the club since joining in 2009.

    Arbeloa would be perfectly adequate as a useful right-back in a mid-level La Liga side, but his various defensive flaws have been exposed time and time again while playing for the glamorous side from the capital.

    The arrival of Daniel Carvajal at the Santiago Bernabeu might finally have signaled the end of Arbeloa's golden and slightly mystifying run in the first team.

18. Dario Conca

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    Conca thanks his lucky stars
    Conca thanks his lucky starsMatthias Schrader/Associated Press

    In July 2011, Argentine playmaker Dario Conca became the third highest-paid footballer on the planet.

    After impressing with Brazilian side Fluminense, Conca procured himself a £167,000-a-week contract (figures courtesy of The Daily Mail) at Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, much to the bemusement of millions of football fans who had never heard of him.

    Though a gifted creative midfielder, Conca can probably consider himself lucky to have briefly out-earned almost every other footballer in the world.

17. Sergio Ramos

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    Sergio Ramos' ears are burning
    Sergio Ramos' ears are burningAlberto Saiz/Associated Press

    Back in 2009, legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini singled out Sergio Ramos as his heir apparent.

    He told Marca, as reported by Salvatore Landolina of goal.com, that the Spaniard was the next big thing in defending:

    My heir will be Sergio Ramos.

    He is young and has everything to become my heir.

    He is quick, powerful and has technique.

    He is young and has plenty of time ahead of him.

    He is part of a great club in Real Madrid. My advice to him will be to play in the middle of defence like I did. The secret is to train hard.

    Ramos has since proven himself to be a classy defender, both on the right and in the center, but he is not immune to the occasional glaring mistake.

    Nor is he as astute a reader of the game as a natural defender like Maldini. 

    When he retires, he will be remembered fondly by Real Madrid fans, but it is unlikely he'll be lauded as one of the greats.

     

16. Simon Mignolet

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    You would be forgiven for sometimes thinking Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has superpowers, so incredible are some of his diving saves and reflex reactions.

    After a superb start to his Anfield career, Liverpool fans were rightly singing the praises of the 25-year-old, but a handful of clangers through the season and a clear lack of confidence under the high ball have proven that there are a few chinks in his armor after all.

15. Javier Pastore

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    He looks so graceful when he's in full flight, so it's no wonder that Javier Pastore has so many admirers in the world of football.

    After starring for Huracan in his native Argentina, and then Palermo in Italy, the youngster made a further step up in his career with a move to French giants PSG for a hefty €42 million in 2009 (via transfermarkt.com).

    Despite playing the odd wonderful game, Pastore has not become the midfield leader in Ligue 1 that many predicted he would.

    Nor has he established himself as a regular member in Alejandro Sabella's Argentina setup.

    It may be time for him to regroup and try his luck elsewhere.

     

14. Marouane Fellaini

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Lauded as a key member of Belgium's golden generation, Marouane Fellaini joined Manchester United at the start of the current season to much fanfare.

    Thus far he has been unable to exert his influence in the United midfield in the same way he did for previous club Everton.

    This larger-than-life character may have been considered one of the biggest stars in the Premier League in his Goodison Park days, but since making the jump to Old Trafford, he has discovered that he still has plenty to prove.

13. Mesut Ozil

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    When he's on song, Mesut Ozil is a joy to watch.

    There are few midfielders around with his creative genius. 

    His arrival at Arsenal coincided with the London club's best start to a season in years, and there is no doubt he has played a huge part in transforming them into title contenders once more.

    Gunners fans have come to realize as the season progressed, though, that the German maestro is not quite the unrelenting force of nature that he initially appeared to be.

    Real Madrid fans will be able to attest that Ozil has periods of time, sometimes lasting several games, when he goes very quiet.

    During these spells, he looks a shadow of the unstoppable midfield force that everyone knows he can be.

    The 25-year-old is not the perfect playmaker, as some of the hype seemed to suggest after his first few weeks in the Premier League.

    If he can improve his consistency, though, he won't be far from it.

     

12. Kaka

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    It's hard to accuse a Ballon d'Or winner of being overrated, but Kaka is guilty of failing to maintain his own incredibly high standards following a move from Milan to Real Madrid in 2009.

    The elegant Brazilian playmaker had his moments in the Spanish capital, but never reached the same levels of idolatry as he did in Italy. 

    Now back at Milan, Kaka is once again proving a fan favorite. Outside of the fashion city and his homeland, though, the adulation for the 31-year-old is a tad more tempered.

11. Nicolas Anelka

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    Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    He had all the weapons to become one of the all-time great strikers, but as Nicolas Anelka's career winds down, you can't help but feel he never really got the most out of his talent.

    Blessed with supreme power and pace, and no small amount of skill, Anelka was the subject of numerous big-money transfers and played for many top clubs, included PSG, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

    But even though he went on the odd scoring streak and showed glimpses of his ability, he could never string it together for several consecutive seasons and establish himself as a dominant force.

10. Riccardo Montolivo

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    Scott Miller/Associated Press

    Perhaps it is harsh to compare Riccardo Montolivo to the great Italian midfielders who came before him, but the Azzurri have always produced such wonderfully gifted creative players that the Milan man just doesn't fit comfortably into the lineage.

    He does what is asked of him in the center of the pitch, and can distribute the ball smoothly around him all day long, but Montolivo's 56 caps for his national side are more an indication of a dearth of top-class playmakers in Italy at the moment than his own quality.

9. Theo Walcott

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    As a teenager, Theo Walcott was a shock inclusion in England's 2006 World Cup squad, and although he did not get any game time in that tournament, much has been expected from the winger ever since.

    Considered one of English football's great hopes, the Arsenal speedster has yet to develop into the world beater that so many hoped he would. 

    Prodigious pace is a mighty fine weapon for a footballer to possess, but Walcott needs more strings to his bow if he is to become England's next hero.

     

8. Andy Carroll

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Though it is too easy to pick on Andy Carroll, let's do it for a moment anyway.

    The giant striker was sold by Newcastle United to Liverpool in January, 2011, for a fee of €41 million, which, at the time, was the highest ever paid for a British footballer.

    That price tag, according to transfermarkt.com, was also higher than the highest transfer fees commanded by the likes of Hernan Crespo, Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Michael Essien and Filippo Inzaghi.

    Beside the word "overvalued" in the dictionary, there should probably be a picture of Mr. Carroll.

7. Antonio Cassano

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    Marco Vasini/Associated Press

    One of the most gifted Italian players of his generation, Antonio Cassano has not achieved enough on the pitch to warrant the hype that has surrounded him throughout his career.

    The 31-year-old from the backstreets of Bari may have had moments of breathtaking brilliance during his stints with his hometown club, Roma, Real Madrid, Sampdoria, Milan, Inter, his current side Parma and the Azzurri, but he never turned out to be the world beater that his talent demanded.

    At least he seemed to be enjoying the ride.

     

6. Sulley Muntari

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    Ermindo Armino/Associated Press

    For a player of limited technical skill, Sulley Muntari has had an interesting career path.

    After emerging at Italian talent factory Udinese, he has bounced between modest English teams and Serie A superclubs, playing for Portsmouth, Inter, Sunderland and now Milan.

    Every team can use a midfield enforcer, but it's still hard to fathom how Muntari has played over 100 games between two of Italy's most prestigious clubs.

5. Tom Cleverley

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    A lack of suitable alternatives in recent seasons has seen Tom Cleverley gain regular playing time in the famous Manchester United shirt, but the 24-year-old Bradford City product has hardly done enough to prove he is worthy of the distinction.

    Cleverley has been given an abundance of chances to impress, and has only done so sporadically. 

    Unless he proves his midfield credentials once and for all this season, he might not be a United player for much longer.

4. Martin Demichelis

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Athletic and enthusiastic though he may be, Argentine Martin Demichelis is capable of producing some absolutely shocking mistakes in defense whenever he suffers one of his frequent dips in concentration.

    That hasn't stopped him playing for some of the best club sides in the world, though, or notching 37 caps for his national team.

    Just when his career looked like it was winding down, Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini came calling and the lanky centre-back once again found himself a starter at one of Europe's top clubs.

    At 33 years of age, he continues to defy expectation and make a living doing something which he often makes appear very difficult.

     

3. Carlos Tevez

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    As a Boca Juniors idol and product of the mean streets of provincial Buenos Aires, Carlos Tevez will always be a "people's hero" in Argentina.

    His club career has been up and down, to say the least, involving countless dazzling performances interspersed with regular bust-ups with managers.

    Tevez's record for Argentina has been less than impressive, consisting of far more disappointment than success. 

    This doesn't stop fans and media outlets in his homeland calling for his inclusion in Albiceleste squads every time a major tournament rolls around, though.

    With "Carlitos" playing well for Juventus, national team coach Alejandro Sabella is once again being hounded to pick the energetic forward in his World Cup squad. 

    The current Albiceleste manager seems to have learnt from the mistakes of his predecessors, however, and has thus far never called on Tevez.

2. Hulk

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    Epsilon/Getty Images

    The assumption that Hulk is one of the premier strikers going around at the moment seems to be based more on the fact that he commanded a huge transfer fee when moving to Zenit Saint Petersburg, that he scores the odd spectacular goal, that he's Brazilian and that he has a cool name.

    Yes, Hulk is a solid attacking player, but his record of eight goals in 32 matches for Brazil is an indication that he does not deserve to be mentioned among the best forwards in the business.

1. Mario Balotelli

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    The man they call "Super Mario" is without doubt a phenomenal footballer.

    If Italy are to win an international trophy in the next five years or so, it will most likely be off the back of a Mario Balotelli masterclass.

    Millions of words have been written about the striker's antics off the pitch, and his excellence on it.

    He has long been spoken of as a prodigious talent, and he is still only 23 years of age, but Balotelli must begin to justify all the hype on a more consistent basis sooner rather than later.

    Back in 2010, Mario had already ranked himself as the second best player in the world, as reported by Marcus Christenson of The Guardian.

    "There's only one that is a little stronger than me: Messi," he said.

    "All the others are behind me."

    Four years on, and few (aside from Mario himself) would rate the now-experienced player among the top five forwards in the world.

    Balotelli needs to start producing his magic more regularly, and on the biggest stages, if he is to one day win the Ballon d'Or that he seems to believe he is entitled to.