Suarez, Bale, Lukaku: 8 stars disrespected at big clubs

Xhaka Bale Suarez Navas

Footballers, for as much as they are richly rewarded, are often treated like commodities. 

Although fans donning rose-tinted glasses of the vague notions of the 'good old days' will often lament the modern-day footballer and everything that comes with such a lifestyle, it's hard to remember a time where so many big names seemed so, well, human. 

The social media age we live in is often not a pleasant one.

Still, if it has done one thing, it has connected the biggest names in the game to their followers, allowing them to speak out on major societal issues, stripping back all of the glitz and glamour to reveal a group of intelligent, passionate individuals who just so happen to be amazing footballers. 

No longer are the old tropes of them being the bad guys, people who live on different planets to the rest of the world, so prevalent in everyday conversation. 

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That, now, is largely reserved for the people at the top of these big clubs. 

Indeed, the failed advent of the European Super League brought those people back into light and, while clearly not as profound in the grand scheme of things, Paris Saint-Germain's decision to sign Gianluigi Donnarumma is another indication that superclubs around the world are often guilty of treating some of their biggest and best stars poorly. 

Cleary, the Italian shot-stopper is one of the best in Europe and is coming off the back of a major international tournament, but the reaction in the French capital has been telling. 

That, sadly, is a familiar tale for Keylor Navas, who was also forced out of Real Madrid despite winning three Champions League titles on the bounce after they made Thibaut Courtois a headline signing in the summer of 2018.

The whole thing has had us at GIVEMESPORT thinking. What other big names have been treated unfairly by some of Europe's major clubs? 

8) Robbie Fowler - Liverpool 

Robbie Fowler

Simply referred to as 'God' on Merseyside by a Liverpool support who adored him, Robbie Fowler's treatment towards the end of his first stint at Anfield was not exactly befitting of a club legend. 

Openly criticised by former manager Gerard Houllier, Fowler even asked to be stripped of the club captaincy due to his lack of his first-team involvement behind Emile Heskey and Michael Owen. 

Some years later, he would hit out at the 'underhand' tactics he felt were used to force one of Liverpool's greatest ever goalscorers out of the club. 

7) Mauro Icardi - Inter Milan 

Icardi

Mauro Icardi is certainly a controversial figure. 

While he now largely acts as a back-up to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain, this is a man who made himself an Inter Milan legend by scoring 124 times in 219 games for the Serie A giants. 

In 2019, however, the Argentina international was stripped of the club's captaincy after an interview given by his wife in which she openly criticised his teammates after a poor run of form. 

Cast aside by Antonio Conte later that summer, Icardi's stunning goal record did little for him as he watched the Nerazzurri move into a new era. 

6) Angel Di Maria - Real Madrid 

Di Maria

Despite winning the Man of the Match Award as Real Madrid finally won La Decima in 2014, Angel Di Maria was ruthlessly sold to Manchester United only a few months later as the Spanish giants chased James Rodriguez, the latest flavour of the month. 

Still operating at a high level for both Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain, Di Maria deserved more. 

5) Granit Xhaka - Arsenal 

Xhaka

Granit Xhaka's performances for Switzerland at Euro 2020 were indicative of an all-action midfielder, capable of leading his team to glory. 

Granted, he hasn't always been as convincing for Arsenal, but his time in north London has coincided with a rocky - at times toxic - period for the club.

Largely made a scapegoat for the systematic failings around him, the sight of him being roundly booed for simply reacting to sections of his support venting their frustration at him sums up his Arsenal career. 

4) Olivier Giroud - Chelsea and Arsenal 

Giroud

At times during his spell with Chelsea, it seemed like Olivier Giroud would be deployed to rescue Frank Lampard's team from the fire, only to be cast back into the shadows as soon as things started to look rosy again. 

That came off the back of an underrated spell at Arsenal during which most of the conversation seemed to centre around what Giroud couldn't do, rather than what he could. Such as scoring 105 goals in 253 games while winning three FA Cups. 

Even with the French national team, the 110-cap star was dropped for a returning Karim Benzema despite forming a crucial part of the system that won the 2018 World Cup. 

Truly as underrated as they come. 

3) Romelu Lukaku - Manchester United 

Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku's redemption is a sight to behold. 

For so long, the Belgian had to endure jibes about his technical quality even despite entering the Premier League's famed '100 club' in his mid-twenties while breaking the goalscoring record for his country. 

Sold by Manchester United after scoring a respectable 42 times in 96 games, those at Old Trafford might be regretting that now as Lukaku cements himself as one of Europe's best at Inter Milan. 

2) Luis Suarez - Barcelona 

Suarez

Only Lionel Messi has scored more goals for Barcelona than Luis Suarez. 

Why, then, was he forced out of the club in 2020? Even Messi has lamented that. 

Sure, the former Liverpool striker is getting on a bit but a move for Sergio Aguero just a year after his departure would suggest Barcelona are not quite as married to the idea of a new generation as they suggested they were when allowing Suarez to join Atletico Madrid. 

The fact he would help them win the league title less than a year later only moved to prove just how much Barcelona dropped the ball. 

1) Gareth Bale - Real Madrid 

Bale

What more can Gareth Bale actually do for Real Madrid? 

The man has scored 105 goals in 251 games for the La Liga giants, winning four Champions League titles and two La Liga crowns. Indeed, that's even without mentioning the iconic strike against Liverpool in 2018's showpiece final, as well as his stunner against Barcelona to win the club the Copa Del Ray in his debut season. 

For having the temerity to openly like playing golf, Bale has had to endure so much criticism at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

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