Written by Andy
Welcome again sports fans and football fans in particular as we begin proceedings on the 30th blog from The Sports Lab
A big thank you to all who have read,commented and shared the links, the thousands of views received and fun I get out of writing these blogs shall keep me motivated to keep making them better everytime!
Today I will talk about some footballers who I believe are very under-rated in the game and deserve more props so to speak, these players could either be in their prime, only a few years into their career or even at the veteran stage but all the same they have done a great deal and still continue to do so.
Lets get started and in no particular order…
Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan)
This man has been an absolute superstar for Inter Milan and I’m shocked he doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as other veteran players in recent years such as Ryan Giggs or Paolo Maldini. Zanetti joined Inter from Banfield in Argentina 17 years ago in the year of 1995 and has been a model of consistency. He has been used in the right back role and defensive midfield role for Inter and has been club captain for several years. After today’s match against Catania which Inter won 2-0 Zanetti has played 808 times for the Nerazzurri and nobody has made more appearances for Inter, the same goes for his national team Argentina as Zanetti is currently capped 145 times which is more than any other Argentine. Success has been there in his time at Inter also winning 5 Serie A title’s,4 Coppa Italia’s,1 Champions League,1 UEFA Cup and 1 World Club Cup. At 39 years of age Zanetti is still a star for club and country and I hope he starts to get a lot more accolades his outstanding form and loyalty deserve.
Francesco Lodi (Catania)
If I had to ask football fans to name me some top play-makers in Serie A I bet I wouldn’t get many mentioning the name Francesco Lodi. This man is a wonderful talent that is the main reason behind Catania’s fine form in Serie A. I’m genuinely shocked none of the bigger clubs in Italy (with all due respect to Catania) haven’t put a bid in for Lodi. A very technically gifted player with a left foot that can produce wonderful goals and assists along with being a bit of an expert in set pieces Lodi has everything players like De Rossi and Totti have in my opinion. If you check his stats for average passes and long passes he actually has a higher rating than players such as Totti and Sneijder which is just incredible as both of those guys play for much superior clubs. Still only 28 years old I hope Lodi gets a big move and a few seasons at a bigger club as I reckon he could be a star for any of the big Italian sides.
James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion)
A super player who’s name will be recognised to many in the UK but for me one that isn’t given enough props compared to some other midfielders in the EPL. James Morrison has been outstanding for West Brom and his versatility in the midfield makes him a great option to have. A very quick player who has a good touch and can also finish for me he has been under-rated for a number of years. He only cost West Brom £1.5 million from Middlesbrough in 2007 and has gone on to make over 150 appearances for the club scoring 21 goals. He has been capped on 25 occassions for Scotland also scoring 2 goals one coming in the recent match against Wales although he was actually born in England and represented them right up to U20 level. Its a surprise he hasn’t earned a move to one of the bigger clubs in England as I reckon he would be a star for a Liverpool,Everton or a Fulham although West Brom are a club on the rise and have impressed particularly this season. Morrison is still only 26 so has plenty time on his side and I hope he goes onto win honours in the game as his talent deserves to do so.
Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano)
There isn’t many defensive midfielders in La Liga that are as good as this guy. Javi Fuego is a star for Rayo and it surprises me like most others in this blog they don’t play for a bigger club (again with all due respect to Rayo). Fuego has played in Spain his whole career representing less glamorous sides such as Gijon,Levante,Recreativo and now Rayo. At 28 years old he still has time on his side especially in the role he plays as defensive midfielder. He is a tackling machine and few players do as many tackles per game as Fuego and he is imperative to Rayo’s team. I have watched him a few times against the likes of Barca,Real and Valencia and he is unstoppable on his day. Will he get his big move I believe he deserves? Only time will tell on that one but he is a super player who should be playing for honours not relegation and mid table finishes.
Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
This man is an absolute goal machine who along with Adam Lallana (who I could also put in this blog) is the reason Saints have been so successful in recent seasons. Since Lambert joined Saints from Bristol Rovers for just over £1 million in 2009 he has to date appeared 165 times and scored an amazing 92 goals. If Southampton are going to have any chance of staying in the EPL this man will be key to that plan. Lambert has proved the theory many fans myself included believe that if you’re a prolific finisher you will always score goals no matter the level which brings me to my next point. England don’t have many prolific strikers and Lambert would more than do a job for them, I bet if Lambert was under 25 he would be in the England squad no problem but at 30 years old you have to assume he won’t be given the opportunity. He has 4 goals from 7 Premier League outings so far and terrorised the Manchester City defence so why not Lambert for England? I don’t remember many prolific English goalscorers since Alan Shearer. My prediction is Southampton will just stay in the league and I wouldn’t put it past Mr Lambert scoring the majority of the goals Saints score in the process.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
It’s not often Sir Alex gets it wrong but I believe he has in the case of Ryan Shawcross who United sold to Stoke for around £2 million after clauses went on to be met. I believe Sir Alex got it wrong as Rio Ferdinand is a player I’ve never ever rated and he has been way below the level a Manchester United defender should be at and has been carried by Vidic, for me Shawcross could have been blooded into that team along side Vidic and became a mainstay in the team for years to come. It’s no surprise I read recently Shawcross is actually being linked to a move back to United along with some other top EPL sides. He is still only 25 and will get better and better, some will argue if it wasn’t for his move to Stoke he wouldn’t have thrived but he got a good education at United and also done what not many British players do and I wish more would do more of and play abroad like Shawcross did with Royal Antwerp in Belgium for a season. He truly has it all is quick,good in the tackle and can play the ball out from the back, I don’t think he will be at Stoke much longer as there are some pretty big hitters in the mix for his signature in January.
Steven Pienaar (Everton)
Another player who’s name goes under the radar way too often in England and is the first of two Everton players I will include in this blog. Pienaar is a superb attacking midfielder and has always shone at Everton after for me not getting enough of an opportunity at Tottenham but I suppose most of that could be down to injury. A very intelligent football Pienaar can score and create goals with relative ease and is one of those players when on form his team performs. He was a very good player before his stint in England having played for top sides such as Ajax and Borussia Dortmund along with his 60 caps for South Africa. Some players just settle and do really well for certain clubs and are made for each other and I believe Everton and Pienaar are just that. I hope he goes on to win more than the 2 Eredivisie titles he has with Ajax as his talent is another that deserves it.
Leon Osman (Everton)
As promised the second Everton player in the blog and one I have admired for many years and is potentially the most under-rated player of the EPL in the past 5 years or so. Osman has made Everton tick for so long he is such a creative talent its a crime England haven’t came calling. At 31 you again would assume the call won’t come which is a shame. Apart from a couple of loans at Carlisle and Derby at the start of his career the only club Osman has represented since then is Everton where he has gone on to play over 300 times for. Yet another player who despite has all the talent you need in the game at the top level he doesn’t have the medals to show for it. A marvellous talent who has been criminally overlooked but a joy to watch all the same.
Renan Bardini Bressan (BATE Borisov)
A suppose at just 23 years of age and when you consider the level he plays at in Belarus in BATE you could forgive those who don’t know much about Bressan. A player I first saw play in 2010 I’ve kept an eye on his progress ever since and he has turned out to be a superb talent as some of you may have seen in the recent BATE 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League. He is an attacking midfielder much in the Frank Lampard mould and scores plenty goals from the midfield. My surprise is that bigger clubs haven’t been linked with him. A player who has appeared 80 times and scored 32 goals for BATE along with 6 caps and 3 goals for his adopted country Belarus (born in Brazil). I’m sure many scouts from top clubs will be watching Bressan espeically after the performance he gave against Bayern. A prospect I have high hopes for lets hope he gets a big move soon as his talent would be welcomed in any top league.
Ola Toivonen (PSV Eindhoven)
If there is a more under-rated player in football right now I’d like someone to tell me who as for me Ola Toivonen takes this award by a mile. The Swedish attacking midfielder signed for Dutch giants PSV in 2009 for around €4.5 million and has been the star man for them ever since. He has played over 100 times for PSV and has racked up 52 goals in the process along with countless assists and man of the match performances in the Eredivisie. Also part of the talented Swedish national team where he has won 29 caps but only scored 6 goals. Still not in his prime Toivonen is only 26 and his next move I believe will be to a big club to test his excellent ability.
Well that’s it for this piece and I hope you enjoyed some of the players who I believe are very under-rated and exceptional footballers. As ever you can comment below or tweet me if you feel I have missed any other top players who maybe don’t get the credit they deserve, until next time
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