Due to football’s popularity globally, soccer players enjoy fame across the globe — especially those plying their trade in the major leagues. But the recognition the players get isn’t always balanced; while some get the due commendation for their efforts, others just don’t get enough credit for what they do — they work their socks off yet do not get the praise they deserved.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at 10 players who have been important to their clubs in the 2019/20 season but do not always receive the credit they deserved.
10. KEYLOR NAVAS
One of the most surprising transfers during the last summer transfer window was Real Madrid’s decision to let go of Keylor Navas. The 33-year-old never got the credit he deserved during his time at the Bernabeu as he helped Real to three consecutive Champions League titles.
At PSG, the trend has continued so far, as Navas’ performances between the sticks are often overshadowed by the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. The Costa Rican had the best goalkeeping record in this season’s Champions League group stage ahead of the likes Ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer, and Allison as he kept four clean sheets in 5 matches and conceded just 2 goals. His most impressive performance was in the 3-0 victory over Real Madrid as he showcased his value to his former employers.
9. GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM
Wijnaldum’s exemplary leadership on and off the pitch was key to last season’s Champions League success and for the Red’s push towards a first league title in 30 years this season. Due to his positioning, and style of play, Liverpool’s midfielder is often overlooked while the likes of Salah, Firmino, Mane, Alexander-Arnold, and Van Dijk get the plaudits. Personally, I think Gini Wijnaldum is one of the most important player in the Liverpool squad. His has always been the one scoring Important goals for Liverpool and is one of the underrated players in football.
8. CIRO IMMOBILE
Often judged by his woeful spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Immobile is arguably the best Italian striker in the last ten years having won the Italian Serie A golden boot twice and also on course to win it again this season as he has 27 league goals already (six ahead of nearest challenger Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 21).
His strikes have propelled Lazio to mount a serious and surprising title challenge as they are just a single point behind league leaders Juventus, and 8 points ahead of 3rd-placed Inter Milan before the coronavirus outbreak. Lazio are also the defending champions of the Coppa Italia. So far, Immobile has scored 33 goals and provided 7 assists in just 38 games in all competitions this season, and he is leading the race for the European Golden Shoe ahead of the likes of Lewandowski, Ronaldo, Haaland, Messi, Mbappe, Vardy and Aguero.
7. WILFRED NDIDI
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City are on course for a surprising Champions League qualification as they are currently in 3rd place, 5 points ahead of 4th-placed Chelsea. Although Jamie Vardy regularly takes the credit by virtue of his goals, Ndidi is the team’s most important player. He is clearly one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. He is also one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League.
Ever since he was signed as a replacement for Ngolo Kante, the Nigerian has been improving in leaps and bounds. He has impressively made an average of 4 tackles and 2.7 interceptions per game this season. Ndidi’s importance to Leicester City became obvious when he missed five matches due to a knee injury, and the team failed to win each of the 5 games, losing 3.
6. PAPU GOMEZ
Alejandro Dario Gomez, popularly known as “Papu Gomez,” is the captain of Serie A side Atalanta. Atalanta have been punching above their weight since the beginning of last season as they reached the Coppa Italia final last term and also shockingly qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. The Bergamo-based club not only got past the group stage in their first-ever Champions League appearance this season but have also qualified for the quarterfinals having destroyed Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the round of 16.
Atalanta were also on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they occupy 4th place in the Serie A table before the outbreak of coronavirus. Gomez exemplifies the team’s spirit with his incredible work-rate, leadership, and goal contributions — he has an impressive 7 goals and 12 assists in 33 games in all competitions this season. Papu Gomez is not just one of the underrated players in the world, he is also very little-known. The 32-year-old doesn’t get duly credited for his performances, thus surprisingly, most football fans beyond Italy don’t even know him.
5. RAUL JIMENEZ
Having struggled to find his feet at both Athletico Madrid and Benfica, Jimenez was initially signed on-loan by Premier new-boys Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2018 with the club seeking to establish themselves in the top flight. The Mexican striker quickly adapted to his new surroundings, helping the club secure Europa League qualification for the first time of asking and also reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
Wolves didn’t hesitate to make his move permanent making him their most expensive signing in history in the process. Jimenez has continued from where he stopped last season by netting 19 goals and also providing 9 assists in 2019/20 — his efforts this season have kept Wolves in contention for a shock Champions League qualification as they occupy the 6th position in the EPL, 5 points adrift of 4th-placed Chelsea.
Jimenez is an all-round striker who combines goalscoring with impressive hold-up play, game intelligence and also links up with his fellow attackers beautifully.
4. SON HEUNG-MIN
Son’s inclusion on this list might sound surprising, but yes, the South Korean never gets all the credits he deserves for his efforts. While the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen stole the headlines during the Mauricio Pochettino era, Son is also equally important. With all the North London club’s troubles this season, Son has continued putting in his impressive performances — a workaholic and tireless runner who combines great technique with speed while also regularly chipping in with his fair share of goal contributions. He is clearly one of the most underrated football players in the world.
He also stepped up in the absence of the injured Harry Kane, almost single-handedly dragging Mourinho’s side in churning out results before he, unfortunately, got injured against Aston Villa in February. The 27-year-old’s absence was a bad blow for Spurs as they got dumped out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig in the round of 16. He is also instrumental to his country, having made 41 appearances in all competitions for both club and country so far this season, scoring 19 goals and providing 8 assists before the coronavirus pandemic.
He is so patriotic that he made use of the coronavirus-enforced break to complete a 3-week national military service in his native South Korea, where he also demonstrated his sheer winning mentality by emerging among the top 5 best performers in the camp.
3. DANI PAREJO
The Valencia captain is one most underrated Spanish players of this generation. An extremely talented and technically gifted midfielder, Parejo doesn’t get the recognition his talent and efforts deserve. He led the team to an unexpected Copa del Rey title last season while also inspiring the Los Che to the top spot in their Champions League group that also contained Chelsea and last season’s semifinalists, Ajax. Parejo has contributed an impressive 10 goals and 6 assists in 36 appearances from his central midfield position before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus.
2. BERND LENO
Arsenal are having one of their worst seasons in decades as they sit in 9th place in the English Premier league table. Although the Gunners are performing woefully, goalkeeper Bernd Leno has done extremely well individually. The German has often been keeping his side from damaging defeats. Signed for £22m in 2018 (the same summer Chelsea splashed £72m to bring in Kepa Arrizabalaga), Leno has often come under scrutiny, with critics ignoring the fact that he has an unreliable defence in front of him.
This season, the 28-year-old has improved admirably — boasting the second-most saves in the EPL, just behind Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka. Comparing his stats with that of Liverpool’s Allison shows how impressive Leno has been this season, while also taking into account the fact that while Allison plays behind the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Bernd Leno plays behind the likes of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi.
1. ALEXANDER ISAK
Once heralded as the “new Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” Alexander Isak is just beginning to showcase his full potential this season at Real Sociedad. Having failed to impress at Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga side decided to cash-in on him by selling him for just €6m in the last summer transfer window. Isak hit the spotlight with his brace against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals at the Bernabeu whilst also scoring the winner against Athletico Bilbao in the semi-final. He doesn’t get intimidated by big games as he has also previously scored against Barcelona.
The Sweden international possesses a big frame, has pace, excellent technical ability, and a knack for scoring spectacular goals. His efforts have not only taken Sociedad to the Copa del Rey final but also ensure they push for a shocking UEFA Champions League qualification as they occupy the 4th spot in La Liga, just a single point behind 3rd-placed Sevilla before the coronavirus outbreak.
Sergi Roberto – Barcelona
Wissam Ben Yedder – Monaco
Christopher Nkunku – RB Leipzig
Steven Berghuis – Feynoord
Mateo Kovacic – Chelsea
This is our list of the top 10 underrated footballers in 2019/20, feel free to add yours by using the comment box below. Thanks for your time.
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola