Achieving success as a professional footballer is not and never will be an easy job, so when you see players being praised and cheered every weekend you know they earned that with not only talent but hard work and consistency. However, not every player get the recognition they deserve, as you can see every person talking about the stuff Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi did in their respective leagues last weekend while there are other assets who play great and yet are unknown by many people.
Even Neymar’s antics outside the pitch get more coverage than most actions some players do on a weekly basis. Just like there are many players who are overrated, there are others who are completely the opposite; it looks like it doesn’t matter how good performances they have, how many goals they score or how important they are for their team, these players are considered from the bunch.
For all that, we have decided to present you 10 of the most underrated footballers in the world right now, guys who deserve a lot more of recognition than they have, as they got what it takes to be important in a bigger team.
Honorable Mention: Mario Mandzukic
Carlos Casemiro has the same problem than Pjanic and many players in this list: they played with a lot of stars. The Brazilian player has been a very important agent in Real Madrid’s starting squad since he came back from a loan to Porto in 2015 that apparently changed his career.
Casemiro has displayed the best of his game through the last four years with Los Blancos, winning three consecutive Champions League trophies, including one where he scored a goal in front of Juventus. Unfortunately for him, he has to share touches with impressive names like current Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric and German midfielder Toni Kroos. Sure, in the past Zidane praised Carlos and his game, but it still feels like he’s missing some recognition from the public.
9. Trent Alexander-Arnold
Despite the fact that this guy is still very young and talented, things have started a little bit hard for him. Alexander-Arnold is the future of both Liverpool and England national team’s right flank, but the 20-year-old right-back isn’t getting the attention he has earned with his performances for the Reds.
In a time where you have players like Jaydon Sancho or Mathijs de Ligt taking all the reflectors, it is hard for a guy like Alexander-Arnold to get some press. He’s become a very important player in his team, teaming up with players like Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Andrew Robertson to create a red wall for rivals. The future looks bright for him; hopefully, he won’t have troubles being in everybody’s mouths.
8. Miralem Pjanic
This one is odd, as even though Pjanic was expected to be greater than he winded up becoming, he is still a great player and someone to look up if you want to learn how to be a great midfielder. Back in his day with Lyon, Pjanic was becoming the leader of the team and many teams across Europe were scouting him; at the end, it was Roma who bought him. With the Giallorossi, he stated he was here to play for big things and that’s when Juventus showed up.
With the Bianconeri, Pjanic has stepped up his level, being the chief of the midfield and one of the most reliable players in the squad. It’s not an easy job to play side by side with players like Paulo Dybala or Cristiano Ronaldo, who take most of the attention, but doing a quite job, Pjanic has earned the love and respect from Juve fans.
7. Cesar Azpilicueta
The Spaniard wing-back was a complete stranger when he made his way from Marseille to Chelsea, but Cesar has shown why the team believed in him with his performances. Even though he’s had to share his spot in the starting IX or just being relegated to the bench, Azpilicueta continues as one of the best in his position in Premier League.
Albeit he’s not the best when it comes to the offense, Cesar can be a great collaborator for his teammates; plus, he is a great defender with a great pace to run through the field either for accompanying the attack or to come back and try to recover the ball. Maybe he’s not the most spectacular player in the world, but he can play in almost any place in defense and knows how to do it properly.
6. Willian Borges Da Silva
The Brazilian winger arrived at Stamford Bridge from Ukraine in 2013 as a very interesting player, but, even though the club did everything they could to land the former Corinthians winger –including “stealing” him from Tottenham-, Willian doesn’t enjoy the recognition he has earned during his tenure with the Blues.
Maybe sharing searchlights with some other impressive players has made Borges look like he’s not important enough in his team. Despite what the neutral fans think, that’s far away from reality since Willian is considered one of the best players in Chelsea staff. Sure, he plays with guys like Eden Hazard or Gonzalo Higuain since January, but nobody can tell he wasn’t one of the heroes –with Victor Moses, another underrated player- that took Chelsea to win the Premier League title a couple of seasons ago.
5. Hugo Lloris
The France national team captain is a quiet player who lets his game speak for him. If you ask anybody who the best goalkeeper in the world is, they hardly ever will answer Hugo Lloris. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t play in a club from the biggest elite, but nobody can say he is a bad goalkeeper. In fact, Lloris is one of the most secured in the world right now given his latest appearances.
Not even having won the FIFA World Cup last year made people recognize Lloris the way he deserves. After his departure from Olympique Lyonnais, the Frenchman has improved his skill and both Tottenham and Premier League fans are aware of that. Perhaps he’s very comfortable playing with Spurs, but Hugo can be a great asset in any team with no doubt.
4. James Milner
James Milner is the prime example that you don’t need to be the most technical player in the world in order to be a good one. The Englishman has done great in every team he’s had the chance to prove his value. Albeit he started his professional career 17 years ago, it wasn’t until his days with Aston Villa (2005-2010) that he demonstrated what he was capable of doing.
Those good performances took Milner to Manchester City and although he didn’t have many chances there, Liverpool didn’t hesitate to acquire his services and now Milner is one of the most important players in the team, considered the captain of the team over Jordan Henderson by many supporters. As we said before, you don’t need to be the most talented player in the world to be a good one and Milner has shown that over and over; you just need to be efficient at your job.
3. David Alaba
Alaba is one of the most consistent and well-rounded players out there and he’s been like that since he made his debut with Bayern Munich at the beginning of the decade. David has done so much for the club, he is more important than many people think and that doesn’t seem to change any time soon.
A player who can score, assists, shoot free-kicks, is very good in both flanks of the pitch, can play in several positions with ease and is always there when the team needs him is definitely a keeper –even though he’s a full-back-, but sadly, nobody talks about him and his game, no matter how good he is and how good he plays.
2. Dries Mertens
Although the Serie A is kind of a devalued league, its teams know how to sign very good players and Dries Mertens –alongside Dzeko- could be the ultimate example of that. After two seasons with PSV, having outstanding performances, Mertens landed in Napoli back in 2013 to play for a team that was trying to recover from losing two of its bigger players, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.
Well, this signing has been nothing but great for the Parthenoppeans since the Belgian player has played in a great way for the team, scoring, assisting and creating chances for the rest of the squad. Even in the national team, Mertens has demonstrated his quality, becoming the leader of the team when players like Eden Hazard or Kevin De Bruyne can’t play like it.
1. Edin Dzeko
Ever since the Bosnian player made himself a known name with Wolfsburg back in 2008/09 season, he has been good almost every campaign after that. Following his impressive performances with the Wolves, Edin landed in Etihad Stadium to play for Manchester City and even though he didn’t have many chances to display his quality, he often knew how to respond when he entered the pitch.
After leaving the Citizens, he got to play for Roma, where he has become a superstar for the Giallorossi. Dzeko still has things from that guy who made a great duo with Grafite in that Wolfsburg squad that won the Bundesliga a decade ago, but now he’s better and a more complete player. He still can score with extreme ease, but also helps his teammates to recover the ball and now we’ve seen a new facet of him: assisting. Albeit he’s past his 30s, Edin can still be useful for a bigger club than Roma.