Ever watch a game down the pub, or read the back pages, and wonder why everyone’s raving about the ‘hot new winger who’s about to light up the league’? Have to listen to mates go on about their clubs new signing (probably just because they’ve seen some clips on YouTube), and think “what on Earth are you talking about”?
Well I certainly have, so here are the five players I think garner too much credit in the minds of fans and mainstream media:
Simon Mignolet – As a £9m acquisition, and more so as a successor to the great Pepe Reina, Simon Mignolet really hasn’t justified his hype. Liverpool have kept 7 clean sheets this season, around about the league average. But The Reds aren’t an average team. ‘Pool are the league’s 2nd highest goalscorers, and without Suarez and Sturridge hammering them in, Mignolet would be under a lot more pressure.
Also, many of the goals Liverpool have conceded have been either preventable by Mignolet or downright his fault. The Belgian is by no means a disastrous ‘keeper, I actually like him a lot, but he is certainly no top-four contender. And if the Scousers have ambitions of getting Champions League football, or indeed winning the Premiership, they need a better man between the sticks.
Christian Benteke – Keeping on the topic of over-hyped Belgians, Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke has a lot more to learn than people think. He’s good, but also incredibly raw and clumsy, and a long way from being a complete striker.
Coming to Villa for £7m, Benteke has a pretty good League record of 26 goals in 53 appearances. Much of this can be attributed, though, to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Villains chances fall at Benteke’s feet. Villa have scored just 75 goals since his arrival, and often play with the Belgian as the only out-and-out striker.
Time will tell whether the 23-year-old will go on to be a Drogba-like hitman who can also play the ball, but for now he’ll remain overrated and under-developed.
Kyle Walker – For a player who won PFA Young Player of the Year in 2012, Kyle Walker had a lot to live up to. And I bought into the hype. Since that day, however, Walker has seemingly regressed, becoming a more forward-thinking full-back and totally neglecting his defensive duties.
To be an attacking full-back, however, a player needs to be involved in goals – either directly or in build up play. Walker is certainly not a goal-scoring defender, netting just 4 times in 105 top flight appearances. He does get involved in the build up, but invariably decides to attempt a mazy run and shoot from distance. What’s worse, is he’ll bomb forward at the worst times, especially for his country, and leave huge gaps in defence.
Walker needs to mature, quickly, or risk being one of the great under-achievers of the Premier League.
Moussa Dembele – Dembele has played well over 100 times in the Premier League, scoring just 7 goals. Oh, we’ll he’s a playmaker some would say. Well Moussa only has 9 top flight assists in the same period. So what plays is he making, exactly?
Technically very good, but lacking the killer vision a player in his position needs, the Belgian (yes, another one) doesn’t chip in when and where his teams need him to. Martin Jol went as far as to call him “probably the best player on the ball I’ve ever seen.” Martin Jol clearly doesn’t watch a lot of football.
Adel Taarabt/Hatem Ben Arfa – My final position was saved for the unlikeable Adel Taraabt, but for some reason AC Milan seem to like their mid-table Seria A position and bought him. So I’m going for a player I have very similar gripes with, Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa.
One of the most predictable players in the league, Ben Arfa will drop shoulders, step-over the ball and generally try to look flash. But he’s going on his left foot. Every time.
The few times his pace and left foot strike have combined spectacularly have given Ben Arfa a good reputation, but realistically he isn’t much of a goalscorer. The Frenchman scored just 16 times in 127 senior appearances whilst playing in France, and has 13 goals in 70 appearances for Newcastle. As a winger, Ben Arfa has to score goals or create them, but his selfishness and awful decision making means he often does neither.
So there are my picks for the most overrated Premier League players. Far from the worst, just the ones who don’t deserve the level of admiration they often get. Who are your most overrated players? Let me know in the comments!