As the old footballing adage goes: if you can’t take the ball, take the man.
And many of the world’s top attacking players have found this out the hard way.
Their sleek skills, elite ball control and ability to tie any defender’s legs in a knot means that they can dominate games and score virtuoso goals against some of the world’s best sides.
That is why many defenders take a no-nonsense approach when playing against these players, opting to concede an unwanted foul but ultimately stopping the threat of a goal.
Images of his torn-up socks were posted on social media after the game, showing that the Belgian had been kicked to shreds by the Galatasaray defence.
A hole in the sock of Eden Hazard of Chelsea after a heavy challenge from Aurelien Chedjou of Galatasaray pic.twitter.com/NBjtQKLWM4— Chelsea Indonesia (@chelstrnsfer) March 19, 2014
While the Real Madrid star is one of the best dribblers on the planet, he isn’t quite the most fouled player in all of Europe’s top five leagues.
Thanks to BeSoccer, we now have the stats to show the top 10 footballers who have been fouled the most since 2016.
Take a look at the list below…
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The 10 most fouled players in Europe’s top five leagues since 2016
10. Josip Iličić (Atalanta) – 612
9. Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) – 631
8. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – 679
7. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) – 681
6. Hirving Lozano (Napoli) – 720
5. Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) – 729
4. Jack Grealish (Manchester City) – 747
3. Andrea Belotti (Torino) – 747
2. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain) – 839
1. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) – 1040
Clearly, PSG’s excellent forward line makes them one of the most dangerous attacking sides in the world, with defenders scrambling to bring down Messi and Neymar.
But it is Neymar who claims the top spot over his Argentine teammate, with the Brazilian amassing a whopping 201 more fouls than the Barcelona legend over the last six years.
Jugadores de las grandes ligas que más faltas han recibido en partido oficial (clubes y selección) desde 2016:— BeSoccer Pro (@BeSoccerPro) February 15, 2022
729 🇨🇴Juan Cuadrado
720 🇲🇽Hirving Lozano
612 🇸🇮Ilicic pic.twitter.com/kSOwI5M8ZA
And that’s understandable considering Neymar’s creative style of play, using his elite dribbling skills to come in from the wing and run around everyone who stands in his path.
Italy’s Euro 2020 hero Andrea Belotti follows the PSG superstars in third place and is tied with Jack Grealish, who is a notoriously hard footballer to steal the ball off.
Interestingly, the City forward is just one of two Premier League players to grace the list, with Crystal Palace’s Zaha placing just behind Hazard at eighth in the rankings.