25 Players Who Think They're Better Than They Really Are
Planet Football’s landscape has always been, and still is, littered with players who clearly think that they are way better than they really are.
And so whether that be perhaps through their on-the-pitch actions or their off-field words, say, these following 25 stars all clearly have overinflated opinions of themselves…
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure is not someone who could ever be accused of lacking self-belief, despite the Ivory Coast international’s catalogue of individual errors, which have scarred his career in recent years.
In fact, after quitting Manchester City to move to Anfield last summer, having spent most of the previous campaign warming the substitutes’ bench at Eastlands, the 33-year-old launched what some may describe as a slightly deluded attack on his former club.
Toure told the Daily Mail:
I was better than certain players at Manchester City but I was left on the bench.
Before I left the club I told the people in charge that they would regret letting me go. People said I was finished and that I could never get back to my former level.
But now I am at Liverpool and I am sure that City must be kicking themselves when they see how I am performing.
However, come the end of last season, it was City who were left smiling after they had won the Premier League, while the Reds were left to rue a dreadful late mistake from Toure (see above video) that cost the club two crucial points at West Bromwich Albion in the title run-in.
Inconsistent Arsenal frontman Olivier Giroud clearly has an overinflated opinion of his striking abilities at the Emirates, judging by how the France international viewed his debut season in north London.
The 27-year-old responded to criticism of his displays up front for his new team by claiming in the Daily Mirror that his first campaign in the capital had been “better than Henry and Drogba in their first seasons. This is the quality I have.”
The only problem, though, was that the player—who scored 17 goals in 46 games in all competitions in 2012/13—had got his math wrong, with Henry (26 goals in 47 games) and Drogba (16 goals in 41 games) both ending their first seasons in England with a better goals-per-game ratio than Giroud!
Manchester United wide man Luis Nani has been at Old Trafford now for the past seven years, although the hit-and-miss Portugal international has only managed to appear in 146 Premier League matches for the Red Devils during that time, and many of those were as a substitute in any case.
In fact, it has often appeared in recent seasons that the 27-year-old is more than happy to simply warm the bench at the Theatre of Dreams, while on the increasingly rare occasions that Nani has been called upon, the player has never failed to flatter to deceive.
And yet whenever the showboating winger with a fondness for stepovers has been linked with a possible move away from the northwest in the past—which, let’s face it, is now in virtually every transfer window—the player’s overinflated opinion of himself and his value have put paid to any hope of a deal.
In many ways it seems highly appropriate that Hulk was bought by Zenit St Petersburg from FC Porto two years ago for a hugely inflated £32 million price tag, as that more than matches all the overblown hype that surrounds the flat-track bully.
In fact, anyone who watched the Brazil international’s underwhelming displays in attack for the host nation at this summer’s World Cup will know that apart from a powerful left-footed shot, there is nothing at all incredible about the overrated 27-year-old forward.
Chelsea and Belgium frontman Romelu Lukaku has never been one to lack confidence in his own abilities judging by the 21-year-old’s relationship with both his club and international coaches.
The powerful forward made his feelings all too obvious when hooked by Red Devils boss Marc Wilmots in each of his country’s opening two group games at this summer’s World Cup, a tournament incidentally that saw the player net on just the one occasion.
Meanwhile, Lukaku also rather unwisely fell out with Blues manager Jose Mourinho in the previous campaign after reportedly failing to heed The Special One’s advice to blast his penalty in the club’s shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup.
As a result, Lukaku decided to leave Stamford Bridge for Goodison Park on a season-long loan deal last year in the mistaken belief that he was too good to have to fight for his place up front with the likes of fellow attackers Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres.
Santos forward Leandro Damiao clearly has a very high regard of his own abilities judging by the number of times his agent Jorge Machado has touted the sometime Brazil international’s services around Europe these past few years now.
But as yet, the 25-year-old has still to seal his dream move to the continent, although missing out on a place in the Selecao’s 23-man World Cup squad for this summer’s tournament cannot have done the player’s chances of a transfer away from his homeland much good.
Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart has never been someone who has suffered from a shortage of confidence, just a quick glance at the shot-stopper’s recent Head & Shoulders advert will show you that.
However, when it has really come down to it, the 27-year-old has never been able to use that on-field bravado—see here—to his advantage, as was best demonstrated when the keeper tried to put off Italy’s Andrea Pirlo during a penalty shoot-out at Euro 2012 with predictable consequences (see above video).
Mercurial AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli clearly has a very high opinion of himself judging by the reported exorbitant wages the Italy international has demanded in order to swap San Siro for the Emirates next season.
And yet, this is a player who is not only still best remembered for his “Why always me T-shirt” during his stormy three-year spell at Manchester City, but who was also once labelled “unmanageable” by none other than Jose Mourinho when the duo worked together at Inter Milan in 2010.
Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho is a man who obviously has a very high opinion of both himself, in general, and more specifically his abilities as a defender, judging by some of the outlandish risks that the player takes when on the ball.
However, sadly, the Frenchman is just not as good a central defender as he clearly thinks he is—see Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher’s withering assessment of the 24-year-old—while anyone who opts to have custom-made boots with 2,500 crystals on each foot specifically designed for them surely has an inflated view of themselves.
While no one could ever doubt the genius of Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there is also no denying the fact that the player’s opinion of himself is a little, shall we say, deluded?
Sure the ponytailed frontman is right up there in the higher echelons of world football’s top performers, albeit on a level just below the likes of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Although, try telling that to the ever-confident 32-year-old.
“I don't need the Ballon d'Or to know that I'm the best,” claimed Ibrahimovic in the Daily Mail last November.
Meanwhile, the Swede’s reaction to missing out on this summer’s World Cup was also equally revealing about how the player views his own abilities, with the forward telling Goal.com: “One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worth while to wait for the World Cup.”
Wonderful attacker, but sorry Ibra, you are not the best thing since sliced bread.
To be a goalkeeper, you need to have a certain amount of inner confidence in yourself, although Arsenal No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny took that to a whole new level with his on-pitch selfie at White Hart Lane back in March to celebrate the Gunners’ 1-0 win in the north London derby.
However, that much-publicised act, which attracted so much criticism at the time, was just another example of the Poland international’s huge belief in himself and his shot-stopping abilities.
And yet, just 12 months earlier, the keeper had been dropped by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman had claimed Szczesny was suffering from “mental fatigue."
Back in 2011, Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton gave an extraordinary interview with French magazine So Foot in which the one-cap England international bizarrely claimed that he was a better player than both Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard.
“Honestly, I think I’m the best [English midfielder],” said Barton. “Luka Modric and Samir Nasri are very good, but in terms of English players…well, Jack Wilshere isn’t bad, but Frank Lampard’s on the way down and Steven Gerrard’s been injured a lot.”
I rest my case…
Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor has never been short of confidence in his own abilities, as the Togo international demonstrated last year when he was quoted as saying in The Daily Telegraph:
There are stats that speak for a man in football. Today I will not tell you that I’m stronger than [Roberto] Soldado or [Jermain] Defoe or [Erik] Lamela. Do a Google search, you will see the goals I’ve scored in my career. …
Two years ago, I was top scorer and best passer at the club.
However, if the misfiring 30-year-old really was as good as he claims, then why has the player been through six clubs in his 13-year career to date, during which time a whole host of respected managers have all in the end decided to part company with the forward?
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet most definitely has a high opinion of himself if the shot-stopper’s alleged comments in February—which were not published by any media outlet—questioning Belgium international Thibaut Courtois’ right to be his country’s No. 1 at this summer’s World Cup are anything to go by.
By general consensus, the Chelsea keeper is now regarded as being the best young custodian in the world, although that still did not stop Mignolet from letting it be known he was looking to take his rival’s place between the posts at Brazil 2014.
In the end, though, Red Devils coach Marc Wilmot had no hesitation in going with Courtois, who—after admonishing the Reds goalkeeper for his words—then proceeded to prove his manager had made the right call with a series of eye-catching displays that helped his country reach the last eight of the tournament.
If Kevin-Prince Boateng was actually as good as he thought he was, then there is no way that the Ghana international would have featured for as many as eight different clubs in his 10-year career to date.
However, the simple truth of the matter is that the 27-year-old has more often than not failed to live up to all the hype, as was evidenced by the midfielder’s up-and-down displays for the Black Stars at this summer’s World Cup—a tournament, do not forget, that came to a premature end for Boateng when he was sent home from Brazil by coach Kwesi Appiah.
Sure there was huge excitement at the Emirates last season following the club-record £42.5 million purchase of Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil.
And yet within a few short months of the Germany international’s arrival, coach Arsene Wenger and a whole host of his team-mates had all been forced to defend the player’s lacklustre contributions for the Gunners.
However, it is telling that when given a straight choice between keeping hold of the big-money playmaker or winger Angel Di Maria at the Santiago Bernabeu last summer, experienced Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti opted for the latter.
The ever-confident Ozil, though, found the decision hard to accept, telling his critics to: "See my figures [in Madrid] and how many matches I played there.” Although, few were questioning the Italian’s call come the end of that campaign.
Watching Brazil central defender David Luiz in action on the field of play shows just what a confident individual the 27-year-old really is, while Paris Saint-Germain must have a lot of faith in the player too after recently forking out a staggering £50 million—a world-record fee for a defender—on the former Chelsea star.
And yet, this is the same centre-back who has previously been described by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville as playing as though he was being controlled by “a 10-year-old on a PlayStation.”
Meanwhile, Luiz’s unconvincing displays at the back for the host nation at this summer’s World Cup also did little to convince fans that this was the best defender on Planet Football.
When Barcelona signed midfielder Alex Song from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 for £15 million, there were more than a few raised eyebrows by those who had seen the player in action.
And those doubts were only further raised when the Liga giants opted to utilise the Cameroon international as an auxiliary centre-back in Catalonia.
For once, though, perhaps veteran striker Samuel Eto'o had a point two years ago when he said of his compatriot: “Song is not even among the best players in Cameroon."
And nothing that the water carrier did for the Indomitable Lions at this summer’s World Cup—which ended for Song when he was sent off for a barmy elbow in the back on Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic—will alter the commonly held view that the 26-year-old is a massively overrated player.
Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen clearly rates himself high, so much so in fact that last season the Belgium international even went as far as claiming that, “I think I have done enough to deserve a place there (central defence) now, ideally for every game.”
Meanwhile, as the campaign wore on and it became increasingly clear that the north Londoners would not be qualifying for this season’s UEFA Champions League, the 27-year-old also hinted that he may have to leave White Hart Lane this summer for a club more on his level.
"Do I have a decision to make if we don't? I can't say anything about that. Let's see after the end of the season, after the World Cup," Vertonghen was quoted as saying on Sky Sports.
And yet, this is the very same player who made a number of glaring defensive slip-ups in the previous campaign, culminating in a disastrous individual display as Spurs were thrashed 4-0 at London rivals Chelsea in March (see above video), while so far no big-name clubs have come calling for Vertonghen.
If Parma forward Antonio Cassano was as good at scoring on the pitch as he has been off it over the years—“I've slept with 600-700 women,” the Italy international claimed in his autobiography—then the 32-year-old would now be rivalling both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of the best player on Planet Football.
However, despite being signed by AS Roma in 2001 for a staggering fee of £19.5 million when aged just 18—making him the most expensive teenager in the world at the time—Cassano has never really managed to match all the hullabaloo that has tended to accompany his every move, although try telling that to the cocksure Azzurri star.
The much-hyped Uruguay international arrived at Southampton from Bologna in the summer of 2012 with both an inflated price tag—reportedly it could rise to as much as £15 million—and reputation.
And in the intervening two years, when the 23-year-old has been called upon, he has largely strutted around St Mary’s with a look on his face that says: “I am too good for this place.”
However, sadly for Saints fans, all the evidence from the player’s time so far on the south coast—Ramirez has scored just six times in 44 Premier League matches for the club—and with his county at this summer’s World Cup says otherwise.
It is understandable if AC Milan attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda has a rather high opinion of himself after continually being feted back in his homeland, with some even going as far as labelling the 28-year-old the "Japanese Maradona."
However, the odd flash of individual brilliance apart, the blond-haired playmaker has generally failed to live up to all the hype that has surrounded him since first breaking on to the scene with CSKA Moscow four years ago.
OK, now do not get me wrong here. Marauding Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has been without doubt one of the very best players in his position in the world in recent years.
However, that still does not mean that the Ivory Coast international deserved to finish any higher than 12th in the voting for this year’s Ballon d’Or, as was recently suggested by the player’s agent Dimitri Seluk, who claimed that his client was “a bit upset about the situation.”
And yet, if the 31-year-old really was that good—his off-colour displays for his country at this summer’s World Cup suggest otherwise—then why was highly respected FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola so willing to let Toure move to Eastlands in 2010?
There’s just something about Mirko Vucinic’s languid style of play, the way in which the Montenegro international saunters around the pitch demanding the ball from team-mates who he clearly feels are way below his own high level, that screams: “I am the best!”
However, sadly for the forward, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, with the 30-year-old having managed to find the back of the net on just 96 occasions in 304 Serie A games for the likes of Lecce, AS Roma and Juventus these past 14 years.
And that is why when push came to shove this summer, the player ended up signing for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates rather than Arsenal after the north London club’s boss Arsene Wenger revealed his true opinion on the attacker in January, when the Frenchman told Sky Sports, “We are not especially in for Vucinic.”
You really have to hand it to Nicklas Bendtner as the Denmark international is never short of confidence in his own abilities, which I suppose as a striker is an important characteristic to have.
However, sadly the on-pitch evidence just does not match the player’s often extravagant words, such as when the misfiring frontman told the Daily Mail four years ago, without a hint of sarcasm either, “If you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes because I believe it.”
Wow, words fail me…