HISTORY & CRITERIA
The words overrated, underrated, and generational are too common in football conversations these days. A few performances in and tongues let loose with unearned words of admiration or dissent from followers of the game. A lot of supporters don’t even follow the game enough.
It is a large game to follow, even the most diligent football coaches, directors, scouts, and figureheads do not watch all the games. Some football dialogues these days tend to be too tainted by “banter” and a need to one-up the other person rather than objectivity.But in our most objective way, we have compiled a list of some of the footballers we feel are unheralded enough.The list consists of players that have been performing at a high level for at least two or more years. Yet they fly under the radar in football communities & conversations.
These names are not ranked at all. We believe that these are high-performing names that do not get spoken about enough in football circles due to a plethora of reasons:
Not your typical winger, not your typical number 10, and not your typical raumdeuter. He combines traits of all to make one lethal, left-footed, 22-year-old Ukrainian. In 5 league appearances this season, he already has 3 goals (another one in the Ukrainian Cup).
During this international break, he scored 2 goals. One against France and another against Spain. Two tough opponents, so you cannot accuse him of stat-padding. Apart from his first season (16/17) in which he scored three goals and four assists, he has recorded double-digit goals in every season for Fc Dynamo Kyiv. 62 goals and 40+ more assists in all competitions. He is similar to West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen who could also make this list sometime soon.
Despite being a winger, he tends to drift centrally to affect what other wingers might feel is the boring part of the game. Tsygankov contributes well to midfield play. Smart with the ball, he combines well and can burst forward at incredible speed. The Ukrainian can shoot the ball well and he is very creative with his passing too. All this movement makes him hard to pick up.
The space he leaves behind is very dangerous too. He can make strong, well-timed runs behind your defense and he can deliver a wicked cross/set-piece. Direct and indirect set-pieces.
This guy is a complete attacker that shrewd directors from top leagues should be looking at. Not the flashiest or the most elaborate but he is efficient. Even in European competitions, he scores. He has 8 goals in European competitions.
In the 17/18 season, this French-Moroccan left-footed Central defender was in Ligue 2 trying to get Reims into Ligue 1. In 35 league games, he recorded 19 clean sheets (5 yellow cards and no red). This Reims side comprised of Nice left-back/left wing-back Hassane Kamara and new Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
When they made it to Ligue 1 for the 18/19 season, in 38 games he recorded 14 clean sheets (2 yellow cards) winning 64% of his total duels. In the shortened 19/20 season, he played 28 matches and recorded 12 clean sheets (0 yellow cards) maintaining his 64% total duels won figure.
The 19/20 season was especially successful with Axel Disasi and Predrag Rajkovic also delivering stellar performances for the side. David Guion coaches a very structured side that gives little away and at the heart of this is the center-back.
Dominant, clean, and technically sound, the rangy defender has been one of the best defenders in France for three years now. He flies below the radar because of his age (33), which does not make him an attractive transfer target.
The Stade de Reims defender is as solid as they come, and there is no aspect of his game that lacks. His clean sheet record speaks for itself. Like most classic center-backs, he is also a target in the opposition box for set-pieces. The 6ft3 defender has 4 goals for Reims in Ligue 1.
Another atypical left-footed winger on this page. This one operates from the left and he is also lethal. Oyar(th)abal is not fast, explosive, nor tricky, he is very good at occupying half-spaces and attacking the ball in the final metres. He is efficient and makes the game of football look so easy.
He does not have searing pace in his legs, but his football intelligence allows him to impact the game. 200 games and counting for his boyhood club Real Sociedad. The closest he came to leaving was this summer when Pep Guardiola and Txiki Bergiristan were keeping an eye on him in light of Leroy Sane’s departure. Not that we want him to leave though, it will be quite the career if he finishes it at La Real.
Oyarzabal creates chances as he scores them. In Liga last season, he scored 10 goals, with 11 assists from 14 big chances created. Averaging a smooth 1.4 key passes a game. He also started 36 out of 38 league games which is impressive. In the 18/19 season, he scored 13 goals with 2 assists from 7 big chances created. In the 17/18 season, 12 goals with 5 assists from 9 big chances created. The captain of his side and he is improving and learning new tricks with his rare style of player.
Oyarzabal is not the type of winger to beat his man with explosive speed. The Spanish international would rather use his movement to move opposition players and then penetrate. His intelligent runs make him an excellent target for attackers delivering balls from the right. La Real enjoyed an entertaining season with Oyarzabal, Alexander Isak, and Martin Odegaard last season, especially the first half of the season.
His consistency and fitness are very good attributes for a player of his nature who does not play with fanciful tricks and flicks but intelligent use of space. He is a penalty box finisher as his 50+ goals suggest and an intelligent creator as the 30 assists posit.
This guy is world-class, but for different reasons, he does in football spheres. A combination of racism, aesthetics, bitterness and the occasional Hollywood miss are some of the reasons why.
He has been subject to racism from the British media. There is targeted harassment of his personality for different reasons. They sink to disgusting lows to taint his reputation. He is still a target with the occasional jibe here and there. Made a scapegoat for matters that others have gotten a free ride for. Whether it is his tattoos, his kids, or spending his own salary, they found ways to smear a very good footballer.
His playing style is not pretty, it is efficient and gets the job done. His almost dainty style of dribbling is not the most aesthetically pleasing, neither is it his best suit, but he is also good at it. It is his shooting/finishing that certifies him as world-class.
He has 100 Premier League goal involvements in 167 games for Manchester City (69goals, 31assists). He has another 20 goals in 43 Champions League appearances. His detractors love to point to some of his misses in this competition, but never fail to mention how his average UCL numbers are in the upper echelons of the competition.
Sterling can drift in from the left to shoot, and he can get on the end of crosses from both sides. He is a willing runner with and without the ball. Constantly tracking, scanning, pressing, and attacking spaces. Raheem Sterling deserves respect for his consistency and output. he deserves respect as a talismanic figure for his national team. But most of all, he deserves his respect as a man.