Carrick, Busquets, Wjinaldum: 11 of the most underrated players in football history

Dembele retires

Former Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele has revealed he will retire at the end of the season when his current contract expires.

The 34-year-old, who currently plays for Guangzhou FC in China, took to social media earlier today to clear up confusion about his retirement.

Rumours had initially suggested that Dembele would be retiring immediately, but the Guangzhou player put those reports straight, assuring fans on his Instagram that he would be hanging up his boots after fulfilling his current contract.

After joining Tottenham from Fulham in 2012 for a fee of £17.10 million, Dembele went on to make 249 appearances for the north London side and enjoyed some of his best years under Mauricio Pochettino.

Many Spurs fans regard him as having been one of the most underrated midfielders to have played the English top-flight, wowing fans with his brilliant work rate, composure on the ball and elite abilities winning the ball back for his side.

With Dembele now set to hang up his boots, we’re taking a look back at several other players who may not have been given the acknowledgement that they might have deserved during their playing careers.

While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar will always grab the headlines, here are 11 of the most underrated players to have ever graced the beautiful game.

Michael Carrick – Manchester United

After joining Man Utd from Spurs in 2006, Carrick made his name as being one of the most reliable deep-lying midfielders in the Premier League.

The 40-year-old is also of the most decorated players in the history of the top-flight, notably helping United win five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and their famous 2008 Champions League trophy.

A leader both on and off the field, Carrick went on to become a coach at the club but is forever revered as one of United’s greatest midfielders.

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Keylor Navas – Paris Saint-Germain

Another underrated footballer is PSG goalkeeper Navas, who has largely been overlooked with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Alisson Becker and Ederson stealing the headlines as the world’s best goalkeepers.

But over the last few seasons, the 33-year-old has been performing admirably for his club, keeping 11 clean sheets in 21 league games, while also keeping five clean sheets in nine of PSG’s Champions League ties last season.

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Luis Muriel – Atalanta

After joining Atlanta in 2019, the Colombian has amassed an incredible 51 goals in 110 games for the Serie A side.

That is a seriously impressive stat and he has proven that he can take his chances when he gets them.

His strength on the ball, eye for goal and ability to carve his way around defenders gets him a place on our list of the most underrated footballers to have graced the game.

Tomas Soucek – West Ham

Defensive midfielder Thomas Soucek has been one of the most reliable players in David Moyes’ squad over the past few seasons and has only missed three league games for the side this season.

At just 26 years old, the Czech has gone largely under the radar over the last few years to become one of the most valuable midfielders in the Premier League.

Tomas Soucek

Georginio Wijnaldum – Paris Saint-Germain

Another workhorse in midfield is Wijnaldum, who proved during his time at Liverpool to be much more than the £27m fee the club paid for him back in 2021.

Helping the club to end their long wait for a league title, the 31-year-old was an integral piece of Jurgen Klopp’s 2019 title-winning side.

But Wijnaldum was the engine in that Liverpool midfield, and while the likes of Mane, Salah and Firminio stole most of the headlines, it was the Dutchman who would go under the radar for his contributions to those performances.

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Sergio Busquets – FC Barcelona

Playing in a team of superstars can sometimes make it hard for players like Busquets to get noticed.

Surrounded by the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Neymar and Fabregas during his career, the Spaniard has held his own and continues to put on exemplary performances from midfield and has now won every competition possible, including three Champions Leagues and the World Cup.

While best known for his defensive capabilities sweeping the middle of the park, Busquets’ skills as an elite passer often go unnoticed and are why he has been added to this list of underrated footballing stars.

Busquets has been brilliant

Wissam Ben Yedder – AS Monaco

The Monaco captain might not be someone that every football fan has heard of, but looking at his stats, he is undoubtedly a player that flies under the radar in European football.

In the 2021/22 season alone, Ben Yedder has started 22 matches, scoring 14 goals for his club and consistently puts in excellent performances for his side.

And it’s fair to say he is a goal-scoring machine, having now scored 71 goals in 174 games for the club while yielding a similar tally at his previous club Sevilla, where he netted 70 goals in 138 games.

Raul Jimenez – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Jimenez has played a pivotal role in Wolves’ ascendency in the Premier League over the last few years.

The player notably formed a very dangerous partnership with now-Liverpool striker Diogo Jota last season to score 17 goals and produce six assists.

But Jimenez has not always received the same level of plaudits compared to players like Jota and is, for that reason, a seriously underrated footballer.

Danny Ings – Aston Villa

Perhaps one of the most important players on the Southampton team sheet over the last few seasons, Ings has gone from strength to strength following his £22m move from Liverpool in 2019 that saw him make only 25 appearances for the club.

But it was his second stint at St Mary’s that makes him one of the most undervalued players in the Premier League, yielding 46 goals from 100 appearances with his poacher’s style of play.

Danny Ings in action for Southampton

Gerard Moreno – Villarreal

Joining Villarreal in 2018, Spanish forward Gerard Moreno has risen the ranks to become one of the most dangerous players to come up against in La Liga.

Technically, Moreno’s ability to beat defenders and find the back of the net is quite astounding and has enabled him to score 93 goals in 204 games for his current club.

He was an integral part of Unai Emery’s 2021 Europa League winning side and was also the competition’s top scorer during that tournament.

While he is one of La Liga’s most prolific strikers, he has largely been discounted by many and ranks as one of our most underrated players of all time.

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Nicky Butt – Manchester United

While the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs stole the headlines in Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams of the 90s, Butt was often overlooked as one of United’s star players, despite being one of the hardest working midfielders in that squad.

It’s fair to say that any player who wins eight Premier League titles, a Champions League title and three FA Cups should be mentioned in the conversation as one of the greats to have ever graced the English top flight.

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We’ll start with an easy one. Did Jose Mourinho really say this? “I’m European champion. I’m not one out of the bottle, I think I’m a special one”

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