By description, an underrated player is someone who doesn’t receive enough recognition. They might be well-known to millions of people and adored by club followers, yet their talent is still underappreciated on a global scale.
Naturally, since the phrase is so subjective, very few people are going to share the same viewpoint when it comes to selecting underappreciated football players. Today, we’ll try to strike a balance by putting light on five rather well-known football players whose abilities are yet underappreciated.
5. Mikel Merino — Real Sociedad
Mikel Merino, a defensive midfielder for Real Sociedad, is one of La Liga’s most underappreciated players. Merino is not simply about the muscle like the majority of defensive midfielders are. To get his squad out of tight situations, he relies more on wisdom than on strength.
Merino excels in aerial combat and has an intimidating physique. He is also incredibly quick off the line, and his capacity for opportunity creation is underappreciated. Merino has the ability to break up play, upset the flow of the opposition, and instantly launch a Sociedad attack.
Merino, who moved from Newcastle United to Sociedad in July 2018, has made eight appearances this season for the team in all tournaments and has two assists to his name. He has appeared in 161 games for Sociedad in all competitions, scoring 16 goals and dishing out 18 assists. In the 2019–20 season, Merino and Sociedad won the Copa del Rey.
4. Marcelo Brozovic — Inter Milan
One may argue that Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan is now the most underappreciated midfielder in Italian Serie A. The Croatian international failed to play his best game in the first few seasons after beginning his Inter career as an attacking midfielder. He has been nothing short of a surprise since switching to a deeper role.
The team’s driving force, Brozovic is a self-assured passer who can hit long balls from deep with pinpoint accuracy and moves the ball forward without hesitation when necessary. It is impossible to picture Inter without the Croat because he serves as the link between Inter’s defense and attack.
Since joining the team in July 2016, the 2020–21 Serie A champion has played 299 games (across tournaments) while contributing 30 goals and 37 assists. This season, Brozovic has played in nine games across all competitions and contributed with two goals.
3. Leon Goretzka — Bayern Munich
He possesses the physical prowess, quickness, and intelligence necessary to carry the ball into the final third and determine whether to shoot for goal or lay the ball off. Off the ball, Goretzka is a total workaholic who is always willing to assist his defender teammates.
Goretzka, a central midfielder who is adaptable, quick, and powerful, joined Bayern as a free agent in July 2018. Since then, he has made 145 appearances for Bayern across all leagues, contributing 29 goals and 29 assists. He contributed 19 goals (8 goals, 11 assists) across all tournaments in the 2019–20 period, which was the best of his profession. This helped Bayern to their first treble.
After having knee surgery, Goretzka missed the first four games of the season. Since then, he has appeared in six games across various tournaments, scoring once. In the 2-0 victory over Barcelona in Group C of the Champions League on September 13, substitute Goretzka was one of Bayern’s notable performers.
2. Rodri — Manchester City
In the summer of 2019, Rodri moved to Manchester City, where he has since made a name for himself as one of the first players on Pep Guardiola’s squad sheet. Rodri has demonstrated his flawless game reading, superb passing range, and capacity to intercept threatening deliveries while playing at the base of City’s midfield.
It is safe to conclude that Rodri has successfully stood in for the renowned Fernandinho at Manchester City, despite the fact that their histories are not yet equal.
The Spaniard has played for City in 161 games so far in all competitions, scoring 13 goals and dishing out 11 assists. Among other achievements, he has assisted the City people in winning two Premier Leagues and two EFL Cups. A strong start to the 2022–23 season has been had by the overlooked midfielder, who has two assists in 10 appearances across all tournaments.
1. Vitinha — Paris Saint-Germain
The Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain brought in some big names last summer, including Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, and Lionel Messi. They have remained unnoticed this year and have concentrated on strengthening their team.
Vitinha, who cost PSG €41.5 million to acquire from Porto, has been a great addition to the team this year. Marco Verratti has shown to be the excellent midfield partner for the overlooked Portuguese player, assisting the Italian to dominating the opposing midfielders.
Vitinha is a superb passer who constantly attempts to bring the attackers into play and works relentlessly to support the defense. This season, Vitinha has appeared in 10 games for the Parisians across all tournaments, starting nine of them. The fact that his trainer Christophe Galtier has such high regard for him already says a lot about his talent.