Injuries, form, fortune and politics can all conspire to destroy the careers of some of the best players and that has been the case in recent years for some of the forgotten men in the game.

Gregory van der Wiel

The Netherlands international was once coveted by some of Europe's biggest teams as he rose to prominence with Ajax. Paris Saint Germain snapped him up in the summer of 2012 and was seen by Carlo Ancelotti as a vital piece in PSG's puzzle alongside superstars Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Tiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore.

However, he has seen his stock fall to an all time low, as Christophe Jallet has been preferred for PSG at right back and Ricardo van Rhijn usurping his master for the Oranje. At 25, he is at his peak yet the Dutchman has regressed in what has been a concerning 12 months.

Taye Taiwo

The Nigerian powerhouse spent 6 impressive years with Marseille and his move to AC Milan in 2011 was supposed to allow him to fulfil his potential but since leaving the Stade Velodrome, his career has gone into free fall.

Having made a meagre 4 league appearances for the Rossoneri and being loaned out to QPR last season as well as being loaned again to Dynamo Kiev this season, the left back has seen his career descend into the sunset at just 27. His exclusion from the Nigerian squad that was victorious at the 2013 African Cup of nations sums up his fall from grace.

Wesley Sneijder

The Dutchman recently signed for Turkish giants Galatasary after seeing his Inter Milan career fall apart. This was a man who was once the best midfielder in the world having led Internazionale to treble glory in 2009/2010 and scoring 5 goals in the 2010 World Cup on route to the final. Many believe he should have claimed the ballon d'or in 2010, as he was integral to successes at club and international level.

At 28, he is at the peak of his powers and yet he is plying his trade in a league with all due respect that does not do justice to his talents and capabilities. His fall from world-beater to bench warmer at Inter Milan and now big fish in a small pond at Galatasary is a sad indictment.

Michael Essien

"The Bison" as he is known as, was once one of the most dynamic midfielders in the world who was particularly exceptional as a defensive midfielder. His strength and boundless energy in midfield coupled with a rocket right foot endeared him to Chelsea supporters as he successfully succeeded Claude Makelele in the anchorman role.

However, the Ghanaian has been hampered by constant injuries that has blighted the latter years of his career and thus he has lost his position in the Blues’ starting line up. His loan to Real Madrid which united him with former Manager Jose Mourinho, has not reignited a career that is now destined to drift into the twilight as Chelsea look to the future with several midfield options already at their disposal.

Andre Pierre Gignac

The Frenchman's big money move from Toulouse to Marseille was seen as a masterstroke as Les Phoceens landed one of France's most promising strikers. Having played in all three of France's games in the 2010 World Cup, he was seen as one to fight it out with Karim Benzema to succeed Thierry Henry for Les Bleus. 

However, Gignac has not lived up to the billing having scored just twice in all of last season and has only found the nine times in the league this season. Add to that, he has been completely overlooked at international level in recent years as Benzema's game scales to new heights and the likes of Olivier Giroud and Jeremy Menez are preferred in attack.

Hulk

The powerful Brazilian international was one of the most prolific forwards in the world during his spell at Porto and attracted heavy attention from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City who were prepared to splash the cash. Neither ended up with his signature as Hulk moved to Zenit Saint Petersburg for a whopping 40 million Euros. 

The heavy price tag has certainly taken its toll has Hulk has been immensely disappointing despise signs of promise having played just 9 of Zenit's 19 league games and netting just 6 times in all competitions. One imagines what could have been if he moved elsewhere, as the anonymity of the Russian Premier League has left the former Porto man in the wilderness. 

Maicon

The former Internazionale right back laid legitimate claims as the best in his position as his emphatic runs down the flanks and moments of sheer magic steered Inter to a treble in 2009/2010 as well as numerous other honours. Having kept out Dani Alves at the 2010 World Cup such is his high regard as right back; the Brazilian was a mainstay at the San Siro for 6 years. 

His recent switch to Manchester City has been a major disappointment as he has made just league appearances despite a long-term injury to Micah Richards as Pablo Zabaleta's great form has left Maicon as a benchwarmer. He will be 32 come the summer and therefore he is over the hill, and his move to the Etihad Stadium has done him no favours as he looks to end his career on a high.


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