Some of the fieriest debates in football concern which players are overrated or underrated.
Most of the time, supporters can agree on the players who are outright brilliant and simply awful, but arguments quickly follow when the reputations of certain athletes are called into question.
A lot of the time, it’s not actually a slight on the player themselves and being overrated doesn’t mean you’re terrible, just like being underrated doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re a world-beater.
There are plenty of examples that most fans experience in their lives: overhyping a young talent that turned out to be terrible or seeing a player you were backing let you down on the big stage.
For now, let’s focus on overrated players in particular and that’s something we assessed in the Premier League as recently as November 2018.
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We selected English football’s 10 most overhyped stars as: Willian, Marcos Alonso, Dele Alli, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Nemanja Matic, Eric Dier, James Tarkowski, Hugo Lloris and Hector Bellerin.
Even that list has probably caused some of you to enthusiastically nod your heads or wag your fingers, but the net can be widened even further to all of world football and the last 15 years.
Well, that’s what the team at HITC have done very recently, begging the question: who was each year’s most overrated player between 2002 and 2018?
Every year’s most overrated player
It’s a fascinating concept and we’re inclined to agree with the majority of their choices – check out the video here – and we’re going to run through the full list down below:
2002: El Hadji Diouf
Inexplicably placed in Pele’s FIFA 100 list and badly overhyped after that summer’s World Cup, Liverpool quickly lived to regret signing him over Nicolas Anelka.
2003: Francis Jeffers
From fighting to break into the Arsenal first-team and scoring on his England debut to only scoring three more top-flight goals in the rest of his career. The definition of overrated.
2004: Freddy Adu
Ah, Freddy Adu. An important lesson in getting too excited too quickly about an up and coming talent who, in this case, would quickly go tumbling through the dregs of European football.
One of the most talented players on the list, but Robinho never truly lived up to expectations at Real Madrid and was shuffled along to Manchester City in a disastrous move three years later.
2006: Theo Walcott
A fine example of how you can still be very good, but also dreadfully overrated. The youngster was dubbed the ‘next Thierry Henry’ and shoehorned into England’s World Cup squad. Enough said.
2007: Michael Johnson
Another cautionary tale on this list and heavy-handed praise around Johnson certainly did him no favours. City’s apparent saviour was forced to retire just five years later through injuries.
Sadly, scoring 12 goals during the 2007-08 seas caused Barcelona fans to get a little too excited – even drawing comparisons to Lionel Messi – about a player who eventually fled to Stoke City.
2009: Alexandre Pato
Come on, admit it, you thought Pato was going to be a world-beater too. However, all it took was injuries and a lack of goal-scoring form for his time at AC Milan to crash and burn shortly after.
2010: Mario Balotelli
The Italian was living the high-life with the Golden Boy award and Champions League trophy, but that early excitement in 2010 soon fizzled out at Manchester City.
2011: Ross Barkley
People got a little ahead of themselves when Barkley tore it up on his Everton debut – which they lost to QPR, by the way – and the local lad could never live up to the dizzying expectations.
2012: Erik Lamela
Stop calling people the ‘new Messi’, ladies and gentlemen. That in itself made Lamela incredibly overrated and a frustratingly inconsistent spell at Tottenham has only underlined it even more.
2013: Adnan Januzaj
Manchester United fans were weak at the knees after Januzaj’s brace at Sunderland in 2013, yet it quickly became apparent that the Belgian, despite his talent, wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.
2014: James Rodriguez
Perhaps the finest example of World Cup hype going overboard. There was no doubt that Rodriguez was brilliant in Brazil, but Real Madrid discovered that that doesn’t guarantee long-term success.
2015: Jordon Ibe
You could probably trawl through Twitter and find Liverpool fans posting: ‘Who needs Sterling anyway? We’ve got Ibe?’ We both know they’ll be out there somewhere and that says it all.
2016: Renato Sanches
We all needed to calm down and pause for a second with Sanches because, as we’ve since found out, the Portuguese midfielder wasn’t destined to be the superstar we all expected.
2017: Dominic Solanke
Liverpool fans thought they’d bagged themselves a bargain from under the radar, but Solanke couldn’t find the back of the net to save his life and is now collecting dust at Bournemouth.
2018: Denis Cheryshev
Nobody ever learns, do they? This time it was Valencia that found out players who score screamers at the World Cup aren’t necessarily the answer and, at this point, probably just downright cursed.
2019: Sean Longstaff
Neither us nor HITC are saying that the Newcastle midfielder is a bad player, but linked with Manchester United after one breakthrough season? Hold your horses.