European Football's 19 Worst Footballers of 2012

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentDecember 31, 2012

European Football's 19 Worst Footballers of 2012

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    Here are European football’s 19 worst players of 2012.

    This article will look at the players' performances throughout the calendar year, which will be objectively examined.

    The second slide you read will be an omissions list giving you reasons why X player wasn’t included.

    Please note that with any lists, there will be oversights, so don’t hesitate to comment below with a player you feel should be on this list. 

Why These Players Shouldn't Be on This List

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    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’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.  

19. William Gallas, Tottenham Hotspur, Centre-Back, Age: 35

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    It's Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane and the Latics' score what turned out to be the winning goal via a lapse in concentration from William Gallas.

    Shaun Maloney sent in a corner, which veered straight towards Brad Friedel, who palmed the ball skywards. 

    Gallas takes a second to look up but unbeknownst to him, Ben Watson has positioned himself in front of Gallas to slot home the rebound. 

    As the Wigan players are appealing to referee Martin Atkinson that Watson's shot had crossed the line (Friedel cleared the ball behind the line), Gallas is shouting at his teammates, presumably yelling: "who was marking him?" 

    A more appropriate question is: why didn't you mark Watson

    This need to shift blame away from himself has happened persistently throughout Gallas' career, especially at Arsenal under his toxic captaincy, and was on display when he was the worst player on the field in Chelsea's 4-2 win over Spurs.

    He told Spurs TV (via Sky Sports): "I think we made so many mistakes."

    Substitute the "we" with "I". 

    Gallas was lax in his marking when Olivier Giroud netted the Gunners' third in a 5-2 win. 15 minutes later, the defender was outpaced by Lukas Podolski, who set up Santi Cazorla. 

    Even at the start of the season, West Bromwich Albion super-sub Romelu Lukaku ran Gallas ragged. 

    What makes the Frenchman's displays even more startling is that he has the Sandro-Mousa Dembélé combination, both winning back possession 12.1 times per league game, yet Gallas still looks shaky. 

18. Yann M'Vila, Rennes, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 22

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    During In Bed With Maradona's first write up of Yann M'Vila, football journalist Tom Williams likened the Frenchman to Javier Mascherano, but did say: "Didn't have great 2010-11 but still nominated for Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season." 

    Perhaps, that was around the time M'Vila started resting on his laurels, because the next season, he wasn't included in the UNFP Team of the Year.

    IBWM's follow up of M'Vila, which gave him a D grading, included the view of French Football Weekly's Andrew Gibney: "The talent is there, unfortunately it seems to be his [M'Vila's] attitude that isn't quite right. Needs guidance under the right manager."

    Frustrated by Rennes' refusal to sell him in the summer, M'Vila has cut down on his defensive workload this season. 

    League Only Possession Won Back Per Game
    12-13 3.3
    11-12 5.6
    10-11 5.3
    09-10 5.2

    When he decided to skip training camp to party in Paris with a few of his teammates, he didn't know he would be banned from playing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

17. Axel Bellinghausen, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Left Attacking Midfielder, Age: 29

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    Axel Bellinghausen has the amount of yellow cards as he does goals/assists in league-play this season—two. 

    With the score at 0-0 against Nürnberg, their keeper Raphael Schäfer is thinking: "gottverdammt!" as he sees the ball rolling towards a Fortuna Dusseldorf player. 

    This picture tells you what happened next

    Then Schäfer takes a look, "oh, it's only Bellinghausen."  Dusseldorf lost that game 2-0.

    It's not like Bellinghausen is a starting defender, he plays in midfield but offers nothing, aside from grit.

    He misplaces 25.5 percent of his passes, even though 44.1 percent of it goes backwards. 0.4 shots, 0.3 shots created and 0.5 dribbles per game are not healthy statistics for a wide attacking midfielder. 

    Speaking of Dusseldorf, Fabian Giefer has been exceptional, and Australian Robbie Kruse looks like he belongs in the Bundesliga. 

16. Djamel Mesbah, AC Milan, Left-Back, Age: 28

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    With AC Milan holding a 4-0 first leg advantage over Arsenal, surely Arsène Wenger's men had no chance in the second leg—well, they did with Djamel Mesbah playing for the Rossoneri.

    He was defensively all over the place as he chased shadows against the Gunners, and when he did get close to an Arsenal player, he conceded a penalty.

    Scored a goal against Juventus but was suspect at the back. 

    Whoever was doing the live commentary for Milan's 0-0 draw against Barça certainly didn't have faith in Milan's full-back: "Oh lord, it's Mesbah. He replaces the hobbled Nesta. But it's Mesbah. Gulp."

    Only played 15 or so minutes vs. Barcelona but believe it or not, he was the worst player on the field (again).

    Mesbah didn't know what he was doing and there was a moment where Carles Puyol took advantage of the Milan player's poor positioning.

    This resulted in the Algerian pulling Puyol's shirt right in front of referee Jonas Eriksson, who tanked what should have been a clear-cut penalty. 

    This video sums up Mesbah's positional awareness. 

15. Antonio Floro Flores, Genoa, Centre Forward, Age: 29

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    Antonio Floro Flores spent most of 2012 warming the benches for Udinese and gave a 101 in how to be exiled at a new club (Granada), despite only being there for a few months. 

    He had taken 26 shots, yet only scored once. Didn't track back nor did he offer anything as a super-sub. 

    He was having a tough time in Spain and didn't enjoy his football. He told Granada he wasn't available to play due to a back injury, only to take photos of himself going skiing with his friends. 

    Relegation candidates Genoa have since signed Floro Flores. 

14. Jeffrey Bruma, Hamburg, Centre-Back, Age: 21

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    Jeffrey Bruma didn't know what hit him when Borussia Dortmund put five past Hamburg. Nor did the Chelsea loanee improve in a 4-0 loss to Hoffenheim. 

    His 4.18 kicker player rating was one of the lowest given out to a starting defender last season. 

13. Lass, Rayo Vallecano, Right Attacking Midfielder, Age: 20

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    Lass has gone 25 shots and counting without a goal for Rayo Vallecano this season. Léo Baptistão is having a breakout year, Alejandro Domínguez has shown flashes of creativity and Roberto Trashorras is consistent. 

    Rayo have gone from playing agricultural football to a more possession-based style, ranking fourth domestically in possession percentage. 

    Lass only completes 71.6 percent of his passes and in many ways, he's a poor man's Gervinho. 

12. Eljero Elia, Werder Bremen, Left Winger, Age: 25

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    He was in the running to win this year's Bidone d'oro (Alexandre Pato won football's answer to the Razzies), things didn't go to plan for Eljero Elia at Juventus, nor has he taken his chances at Werder Bremen. 

    Chelsea loanee Kevin De Bruyne has been a regular contributor and Marko Arnautović seems to have gotten his career back on track. 

    Arnautović offers that explosiveness on the right wing but Elia drifts in and out of games on the left. 

    Maybe, 2013 is Elia's year. 

11. Lars Unnerstall, Schalke, Goalkeeper, Age: 22

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    Former Schalke manager Huub Stevens provided one of the quotes of the year, when he admitted to benching Lars Unnerstall due to fan pressure, but then backtracked (via "It's not as if he's made that many mistakes anyway."

    Huub, there's a reason why they're booing Lars. 

    With the exception of Koen Casteels, who was thrown into the deep end at Hoffenheim, no keeper has exuded such negative body language as Unnerstall. 

    Lars needs to look at Kevin Trapp, who had a miserable 2011-12 campaign at Kaiserslautern, only to blossom into a star with Eintracht Frankfurt this season. 

10. Matías Silvestre, Inter Milan (Palermo Loanee), Centre-Back, Age: 28

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    When Matías Silvestre was at Palermo, he had a knack for scoring goals in his worst games. A headed goal when Rodrigo Palacio scored two of Genoa's three goals.

    A late equaliser in the 4-4 draw against Chievo Verona, which swept Silvestre's horrid performance under the rug. 

    Maurizio Zamparini was pleased when he managed to loan Matías to Inter Milan (via Stefan Coerts at "We conceded a lot of goals with him in defence, so we decided to let Inter have him."

    Inept performances against Rubin Kazan and Atalanta later, the Nerazzurri finally understood why Zamparini was so willing to get rid of Silvestre. 

9. Andy Carroll, West Ham United (Liverpool Loanee), Centre Forward Age: 23

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    Andy Carroll has won 108 headers this season but has only scored one headed goal for West Ham United. 

    He is playing the Emile Heskey role, which raises the question that has been asked 35 million times: why did Liverpool waste £35 million on Carroll?

    The reason why Carroll isn't ranked higher on this list is due to the selflessness he has exhibited at West Ham. 

    In fairness to him, he did have a great four days in April, scoring late winners against Blackburn Rovers and Everton. 

8. José Bosingwa, Queens Park Rangers, Right-Back, Age: 30

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    José Bosingwa is to Chelsea's UEFA Champions League winning team to what Roque Júnior was to Brazil's 2002 FIFA World Cup winning team. 

    Defenders, who could tackle, but had low football IQ and were prone to gaffes—yet one is a Champions League winner and the other is a World Cup champion. 

    Queens Park Rangers are paying the former Chelsea player £65,000-per-week—outrageous. Clubs like QPR need to hire personnel, who actually watch football. 

7. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Queens Park Rangers, Right Winger, Age: 31

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    With the benefit of hindsight, Shaun Wright-Phillips should never have left Manchester City during his first spell for Chelsea, because those three meaningless seasons with the Blues ruined a career that was on the ascent. 

    SWP hasn't scored in his last three seasons. 

    There's a guy called Sisi, Osasuna's left winger, who has the same problem as Shaun but Sisi is an elite ball-winner—SWP isn't. 

6. Gregory Van Der Wiel, Paris Saint-Germain, Right-Back, Age: 24

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    When Ricardo van Rhijn, a rookie centre-backs, looks better than Gregory Van der Wiel at Ajax, surely that should have rung some alarm bells for Paris Saint-Germain, right? 


    Not even a cringe-worthy Euro 2012 changed PSG's mind about GVDW, who apparently was working on his clothing line during the tournament. 

5. Marvin Compper, Hoffenheim, Centre-Back, Age: 27

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    Hoffenheim are the only Bundesliga team to concede 40 goals at this point in the season. 

    Compper at centre-back, Koen Casteels' nervous displays in goals (Tim Wiese hasn't been that good either), Daniel Williams' silly fouls and a general lack of cohesion on this Hoffenheim team are reasons why they could be relegated. 

    Compper  had no answers to Nürnberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake, who scored a brace during a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim. 

4. Kevin-Prince Boateng, AC Milan, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 25

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    Kevin-Prince Boateng is not a deep-lying forward, nor is he a wide forward, let alone a centre forward. 

    Please play him in his natural position:box-to-box midfielder. After all, that is why AC Milan signed him in the first place, after some powerful performances in Ghana's engine room.

    In the Serie A and UEFA Champions League combined, he has scored once from 66 shots. It's like playing FIFA for the first time and changing the settings to manual shooting. 

3. André Santos, Arsenal, Left-Back, Age: 29

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    The funny thing about André Santos asking for Robin van Persie's shirt is that if you watch the replays of the game and focus on Santos, he's glancing around. 

    We certainly now know it wasn't to see if there was someone making a run behind him, instead it was to see where RVP was, so he could position himself close to the Dutchman and then request his shirt. 

    Last August, I predicted Santos would be an epic flop, but what bails Arsène Wenger out of this decision is that the alternative choice was to sign Newcastle Untied's José Enrique, who has been hot-and-cold for the Reds. 

2. Kevin Conboy, NEC, Left-Back, Age: 25

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    Kevin Conboy reminds me a lot of Kevin Muscat, who played the game with such viciousness that it crossed into thuggery. 

    Against ADO Den Haag, Conboy miscontrolled the ball and then dived in with both feet at Aaron Meijers. 

    In a 0-0 draw against Roda, he studded Davy De Beule, who had already passed the ball. Conboy disgraced himself by confronting the linesman before losing his marbles. 

    Earlier in the season, he had received a red against Willem II, meaning this season, he already has three red cards. 

    He was taken to the cleaners by Luciano Narsingh when Heerenveen won 4-2 in April, was pathetically poor in the 6-1 loss to Ajax and dreadful when Feyenoord won 5-1. 

1. Chris Herd, Aston Villa, Utility Player, Age: 23

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    Chris Herd tackles without hesitation and he moves like a midfielder, so why play him at the back? He was dragged all over the place in Chelsea's 8-0 win and played a part in basically most of the Blues' goals.  

    For every three or four tackles he makes, how many times has he been caught out of position? Too many. 

    Carl Jenkinson also had a tough initiation process into the Premier League and he has come good. 

    Herd should stay strong and work on his strengths like keeping it simple, improving his passing percentage, being smarter with his tackling.

    If he doesn't improve these attributes, he won't stay in the Premier League. 

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