Kante, Varane, Fernandes: The 'worst Premier League XI of the season' has been named

The 2021/22 Premier League season will go down as one of the greatest in history.

Fans were back in the stadiums and there was entertainment on pitches across the country from start to finish.

Manchester City were eventually crowned champions on the final day thanks to a sensational 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa.

Liverpool had to make do with second despite beating Wolves 3-1, with Tottenham Hotspur joining Chelsea in the Champions League places at the expense of Arsenal.

So, now that the dust has settled on the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, it’s time for people to give their opinion on the best and worst individual performers.

When it comes to the best, the same names crops up – Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Heung-min Son, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, you get the picture.

But when it comes to the worst, opinions differ greatly and they are often far more controversial.

And the clearest proof of that is Ian Darke’s ‘worst Premier League XI of the 2021/22 season’.

Writing for ESPN, the commentator named as many as six Manchester United players in the team, as well as three from Chelsea – despite the fact the club finished third.

Take a look at the XI in full…

The ‘worst Premier League XI of the season’

The XI: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd), Raphael Varane (Man Utd), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), Junior Firpo (Leeds Utd), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), Paul Pogba (Man Utd), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd).

Erm, yeah, that’s a pretty bold XI.

Here’s what Darke had to say about each player selected…

The reasons behind Darke’s controversial XI

On Kepa: “The most expensive goalkeeper in the world was a distant second to Edouard Mendy at Stamford Bridge. Then when brought on as a ‘shoot-out specialist’ substitute in the Carabao Cup final, he failed to make a single save and then missed his own spot kick as Liverpool won 11-10 on pens.

On Wan-Bissaka: “The £50 million right-back lost his way and his place to Diogo Dalot in United’s calamitous season.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka with Man Utd
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 26: Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on February 26, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

On Maguire: “Often excellent for England, he looked a shadow of himself for United. Cruelly and wrongly booed at Wembley, expect him to bounce back. The disappointment of losing the Euro 2020 final and United’s struggles undoubtedly hit his confidence.

On Varane: “The arrival of one of the most-decorated players in the game today was universally acclaimed as a coup, but his first season at Old Trafford ended with him spending plenty of time out injured and the club conceding more goals than relegated Burnley.

On Firpo: “Signed from Barcelona, he failed to win many friends among the Elland Road faithful. Part of the Premier League’s second-leakiest defence, which gave up 79 goals.

Junior Firpo with Leeds United
LEEDS, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Junior Firpo of Leeds United runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on March 10, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

On Pogba: “Almost the ‘invisible man’ at Old Trafford and seemingly on his way out. The obvious talent he displays frequently for France has rarely been seen in a United shirt. Mostly injured.

On Kante: “A vital cog at Stamford Bridge and still a top player, but a series of injuries saw him only start have of the games in a frustrating season. His frequent absences were a big reason Chelsea lost momentum, as Thomas Tuchel admitted last week.

On Fernandes: “Seemed to be inhibited by Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival and never looked the same player who starred with goals and assists last season. Cut a frustrated figure. Getting a tune from him a key task for new boss Erik ten Hag.

Bruno Fernandes in action with Man Utd
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – MAY 07: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United at American Express Community Stadium on May 07, 2022 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

On Rashford: “No apologies for so many United players in this team of ‘disappointments’. Frequently left out, he looked bereft of confidence and belief. Body language spoke volumes. Needs a manager who believes in him again.”

On Lukaku:”After a stellar title-winning season at Inter Milan, he was seen as the last £97.5m piece in the Chelsea jigsaw. But he has looked a misfit and a match at Crystal Palace when he had only seven touches rather summed up a mysteriously poor campaign.

On Lacazette: “A sad final chapter to his Gunners career. Scored only one Premier League goal in open play and lost his place to Edward Nketiah.

Fair play, Ian. Just don’t expect everyone to agree with your selections…

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