10 Biggest Ball Hogs in Football Right Now
Some players are good, some are bad. It’s all down to natural ability, and no one likes a player who squanders their natural ability with overconfidence and/or selfishness.
So we’ve listed the 10 players who market themselves as dribblers but can sometimes (or often) forget to release the ball, undoing all of their own good work.
All stats are courtesy of TransferMarkt unless linked otherwise.
Victor Moses, Chelsea
In 2011/12, every single time you turned on a Wigan Athletic game you could be sure of one thing—that Victor Moses would delight and infuriate.
Not so much of a issue now that he is at Chelsea—which could stem from either having better players around him, or perhaps a lack of playing time so it is less obvious—but there are still regular flashes of his innate flaw.
The problem is that he can run the legs off most defenders—which includes both taking them on and knocking on and chasing the ball—but he needs to learn when to release it to a teammate, rather than getting dispossessed or blasting it wide of the near post.
Luis Nani, Manchester United
A few years ago the more positive among Manchester United fans were saying that he would mature and get it out of his system. And here we are, with Nani at 26, the beginning of his prime years, and he still forgets how to pass.
A probable mix of thinking he’s the greatest player ever—if not person, did you hear about the life-size statue of himself he commissioned?—and wanting to be his mate Cristiano Ronaldo (the pair lived together while Ronaldo was at United), Nani is consistently disappointing in nine out of 10 games.
Over-confident to the point of tripping over his own ego, Nani tries to tie defenders in knots, but usually only manages to be lamely pushed off the ball. He barely even featured in 2012/13, and then stepped up to give a solid performance against Real Madrid, only to be sent off for his efforts—a good summary of how you just don’t know what you’re going to get.
Giovani Dos Santos, RCD Mallorca
After spending several years fooling the world into believing that he had a lot more potential than he did, the Mexico winger has ended up at what seems to be his level with RCD Mallorca, having come through the ranks of Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur.
Still, if his inability to find a teammate is anything to go on, his fall from grace might not yet be complete.
There is no doubt that Giovani Dos Santo puts in a shift, but much of it tends to involve running past defenders and then finishing with an aimless cross or weak pass, a problem which played a part in his national team’s lack of goals in this year’s Confederations Cup.
Ahmed Musa, CSKA Moscow
There are certainly plenty of reasons to get excited about the 20-year-old CSKA Moscow winger, who, if he works on particular areas, could enjoy a fruitful career.
One of the fastest in the game, tricky feet and confidence running high, he is one of those players that should cause teams major problems.
Except that he doesn’t, not yet anyway. Like so many pacy wingers, he needs to balance his individual talents with an eye for team play, as so many of his dazzling runs end in disappointing balls that barely deserve to be referred to as “passes”.
However, with a bit of good coaching on the training ground, Musa could be the next big thing to come out of Africa.
Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich
You know you’re going to draw fire from some quarters when you criticise Arjen Robben, but the unavoidable truth is that, no matter how effective he has been throughout his career, the Dutchman has a major flaw in his game.
He is, quite simply, selfish. How many times do we have to watch Robben cut defences to shreds, making defenders wish they’d never laced up their boots, only to take it a touch too far or waste a good shooting chance? Or, albeit much more rarely, get tackled?
It’s too late for him to change though, so it will just have to be one of those things that we must deal with when watching one of the world’s best players. Because all geniuses are flawed, right?
“There was something with his hair that night/His touch was s****/Gervinho”
That Arsenal supporters’ song couldn’t really be more succinct; signed as a playmaker, Gervinho has not only neglected his duties in regards to assists, but also seems intent on fluffing every goal-scoring chance that comes his way.
The miss against Manchester City from six-yards that would have won the match in 2012/13? Oh, Gervinho…
The terrifically awful moment when he couldn’t even fill the gaping net against Bradford City? Oh, Gervinho... (If you’d forgotten about that, here it is again.)
Half of his dribbles end in a bad pass or wasteful shot, the other half don’t even get started before he’s dispossessed.
Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur
The Tottenham Hotspur striker is an accomplished goal scorer, a veteran of 513 career appearances and 210 goals.
However, while on form he is one of the deadliest players in the Premier League around the 18-yard box, especially when cutting inside to shoot, he could learn a bit about when to play for safety.
As in, when he’s not on form he tries to shoot as much as he does when he’s at the top of his ability. Obviously don’t give up shooting altogether when you’re having a bad day, but what’s wrong with recognising that you aren’t up to par and holding onto the ball, waiting to lay it off to a teammate?
Still, at 30, he’s not going to change now.
Adel Taarabt, Queens Park Rangers
Another one of those players who looked like they would go on to glory and distinction, only to let a volatile temperament overshadow the talent.
Despite not making the grade at Tottenham Hotspur, Taraabt once looked like the next sensation, with a season in the Championship in which QPR finished top and the Morrocan was their undisputed star performer.
Unfortunately, during his first season in the Premier League a brittle psyche coupled with overconfidence undid the aura that had formed around him, his deficiencies fully exposed by what is widely regarded as the toughest league in the world.
Although he has got better recently, Taraabt’s confidence often leads him into dead ends. While he is undoubtedly very good with his feet, that self-assurance is often misplaced, and he just doesn’t lift his head up enough.
Antonio Valencia, Manchester United
Not exactly your typical “ball-hog” as such, but Tony V was guilty of losing the ball very regularly last season.
Whether it was the pressure of having an excellent 2011/12, which resulted in the extra responsibility of being given the sacred Manchester United number seven shirt, or perhaps something else, Valencia was not himself in 2012/13.
There is no doubt that he is supremely talented, but a sharp dip in confidence has seen him either get dispossessed or make passes that are easily intercepted several times every game. There wasn’t one appearance where he played well last season, so at least in 2013/14 there is no pressure to live up to heights of the previous campaign.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool
This is a last minute addition in light of the Confederations Cup performances he exhibited, and is meant to serve as a warning: Don't go back to your old ways, Luis (not that he'll read it anyway).
Known as something of a ball hogger a couple of years ago, Suarez has since replaced those mazy runs that generally ended in hitting the post with some mazy runs in a more productive vein. He finished last season with 23 goals and 11 assists in the league.
However, whether down to tiredness or from being distracted by the transfer saga hanging over him, Suarez reverted back to his old ways in Brazil, particularly against the tougher sides such as the hosts and Spain.
Whereas the new Suarez would dance round his opponents and scythe the ball into the net, this looked more like the older version, who had bags of potential but didn't know quite how to use it. The number of times he tried to take players on while having passing options, only to be dispossessed, became quite annoying by the time Uruguay exited at the hands of Brazil.
Still, he is a world-class player and probably endured a blip brought on by fatigue. Let's just hope that he gets back to his prime in time for the start of 2013/14.