Written by Mark Docherty
Paul Pogba signed for Manchester united in the summer for a remarkable £89 million, a fee which many in the football world say is too much for any player to be worth. This transfer fee has undoubtedly heaped pressure upon Pogba and it is now impossible for him to live up to that pressure, with supporters saying that he is overrated. This got me thinking; if Pogba is regarded as an overrated player, who are the most underrated players in the English game? Here is, in my view, a team of the most underrated players in the Premier League.
Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford
Pickford has been the shining light in Sunderland’s season, and it is arguable that the Black Cats would already be down if it wasn’t for their young goalkeeper. However, due to the number of goals Sunderland concede Pickford doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Their goal difference of -22 would be far worse if it wasn’t for Pickford and their season will have taken a huge hit when they discovered he had been injured.
Right-back – James Milner
Although Milner currently plies his trade at left-back for Liverpool, he is no stranger to being played out of position so should be able to cope just fine on the right side of the defence. Milner is one of the most underrated players in the entire country, something which has been shown by the way he has been able to adapt to different positions at the very highest level.
Centre-back – Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross is a player who is unfairly criticised in my opinion and his reputation as a hardman definitely works against him. He was viewed as one of the most reliable centre-halves in the country and even got a couple of call ups to the England squad, but since his horror tackle on Aaron Ramsey his reputation has been irreparably marred. However, he still has a lot to offer and can still play at the very highest level.
Centre-back – Ben Gibson
Gibson has been a rock at the back of the Premier League’s sixth best defence so far and I am very surprised to see his continued emission from the England squad. When you consider that centre-back is generally regarded as England’s weakest position it seems criminal not to consider a player who has played such a big part in his team’s good form.
Left-back – Chris Brunt
Brunt has just come back from a horrific knee injury he picked up at the end of last season, and is starting to get back to his best at the Hawthorns. The Northern Ireland international has been converted to a left-back this season after spending most of his career out on the left wing, and has not disappointed. His delivery from dead-ball situations makes him a valuable asset to his team, while he is also a willing runner and dedicated defender.
Central midfield – Idrissa Gueye
There were questions raised in the summer when Gueye completed his move from Aston Villa to Everton as people queried whether any member of last season’s Villa side was fit to play Premier League football. His statistics from both last season and this show that he is, however, capable of playing at the top level of the game. He was second in interceptions only to N’Golo Kanté in the Premier League last season, and when you consider that his Villa side were average at best, that is no mean feat. He is one of the players who goes under the radar but acts as the backbone of his team.
Central midfield – Oriol Romeu
Romeu is another of the players who carries out vital jobs for his side but never seems to get recognised. While he is not one for playing eye-catching passes across the field, he often starts attacks by winning the ball back and laying it off to the creative players. It is players like Romeu who allow players such as Tadič to have the creative freedom they need.
Central midfield – Harry Arter
Arter is a player another player who has garnered a reputation for being somewhat dirty, and unfortunately I feel that reputation is all people can see when he plays. It’s true, he is not afraid to get stuck in, but his work to close down opponents and force them into mistakes often goes unnoticed. He may give away the occasional free kick and pick up the odd card when it is necessary, but his work is what makes Bournemouth tick and often is what starts their signature counter attacks.
Left wing – Kevin Mirallas
Mirallas is a player who, in my opinion, is underrated even by his own manager. Ronald Koeman gives the Belgian limited playing time despite the fact that he has an impact on almost every match he plays in. He is happy to run at defenders and create opportunities whenever he gets the ball but sometimes seems eclipsed by Ross Barkley. However, at the moment with Barkley’s dip in form we are starting to see Mirallas take centre stage.
Right wing – George Boyd
I was surprised that Boyd wasn’t snapped up by a more established Premier League side when Burnley were last relegated from England’s top league, but it seems his contributions to the team went unnoticed even by other managers. He continues to feature regularly in Burnley’s first team, but is mainly concerned with the dirty work such as tracking runners rather than the headline-grabbing jobs such as scoring and assisting. But if he was not there to do his work, Burnley would find it even more difficult to avoid relegation.
Striker – Olivier Giroud
Giroud is, in my view, disgracefully underrated. He has scored over ten goals per season ever since joining Arsenal in 2012, and looks on course to do the same this season. He is often ridiculed for his lack of pace, but his goalscoring record and skill and quality should be enough to make him one of the most valued players in the Premier League. Arsenal fans – and France fans, for that matter – do not realise how good a player they have and should appreciate his ability rather than constantly complaining about him.
So, there you have it! In my opinion this is a team made up of eleven of the most underrated players currently playing in the Premier League, and almost all of them would fit in seamlessly in Europe’s top teams. Just because players don’t score vital goals or find themselves on the front pages of national newspapers, it doesn’t mean they are not players of the very highest level.
What do you think of these picks? Who would make it into your underrated XI? Let us know in the comments below or through social media!
featured image by dom fellowes