Bale, Firmino, Aubameyang: Eight big-name players 'at the gates of hell' this season

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The world of football can be an incredibly tough place.

Through all the precedent and upheaval of the 2020/21 campaign, it's never been clearer just how quickly world-class footballers can find themselves plummeting both in stock value and confidence.

You only have to look at the woes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz since moving to Chelsea or Donny van de Beek's near exile at Manchester United to get what we're talking about here.

Tough world of football

However, in those instances, patience will be key and there's plenty of examples in the Premier League where players have needed at least a season to bring their best form to England.

Rather, for the purposes of this article, we're looking at players who find themselves in a rut of more serious proportions where the light at the end of the tunnel is that extra mile away.

That's because Spanish newspaper Marca decided to look at eight 'big players in precarious situations' who have 'been to heaven but now they are at the gates of hell'.

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Eight players 'at the gates of hell'

Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn't it? But for all the theatrics, it's hard to argue with their selections for big-name players going through a potentially career-crippling spell, so check them out down below:

1. Roberto Firmino

With just 15 Premier League goals in 61 appearances since the start of last season, it's no wonder the transfer value and appreciation for Liverpool's number nine have been nosediving recently.

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

For a player who has always scored consistently wherever they've gone, it's borderline baffling to see just five strikes on Aubameyang's Premier League resumé for the 2020/21 campaign.

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3. Eden Hazard

We're now more than one and a half seasons into Hazard's doomed move to Real Madrid and the fact he's registered more injuries at the Bernabeu than goals contributions just about says it all.

4. Dele Alli

It speaks volumes that Alli was desperately campaigning for a January move to Paris Saint-Germain because he's practically been exiled from the Tottenham first team by Jose Mourinho.

5. Miralem Pjanic

Truth be told, this always looked like a retrograde move from Barcelona and just five starts in La Liga has done little to prove us wrong with Ronald Koeman largely using him as back-up option.

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6. Mesut Ozil

It's mental to think that Ozil was picking up more than £300,000-per-week at Arsenal despite not even making their Premier League squad, but hopefully his Fenerbahce move can unshackle him.

7. Gareth Bale

With just two Premier League starts since returning to Tottenham, we've hardly seen the best of Bale since 2018/19 and it's hard to imagine a world in which Mourinho signs him permanently.

8. Daniel Sturridge

For a player who terrorised the Premier League with goals and skills in abundance on his day, it's sad to see how injuries and a betting scandal have relegated Sturridge to the status of a free agent.

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Still time to turn it around

So, it goes without saying that boasting mega-money wages or a big-name reputation isn't enough to guarantee you success in the beautiful game - and these eight players are living proof of that.

Sure, I think there's good reason to think that players like Aubameyang and Alli will eventually find their best form again, but you can't help fearing for Bale and Sturridge given their steep declines.

However, this is the whacky world of sport we're talking about, so don't be surprised if anywhere between one and eight of these stars pull their form out of the fire and frankly, we hope that's the case.

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