Not every player gets the recognition he deserves and so we have tried to list some of them here.
Football is brimming with hidden gems that have evaded the fanfare and enthusiasm that has surrounded the Peles and the Maradonas of the world. These outstanding yet underrated footballers either played for the wrong team at the wrong time or went under the radar because of the presence of bigger names.
Was Beckenbauer the sole architect of Germany’s success in the 1970s, or were there other key players? Before Franco Baresi, who won the 1982 World Cup with Italy? Some names stick with us, while others are rarely heard outside of their own nation. It’s past time for someone to shine a light on these underappreciated or underrated footballers.
The majority of the players on this list are retired professionals from the modern age. There aren’t many current footballers on the list because they might not get the attention they deserve. The footballers included here may be relatively obscure, underestimated, or underrated in comparison to other football raters’ elite lists.
10. Gabriel Batistuta
Batistuta scored 56 goals in just 78 matches for Argentina (Courtesy: FIFA)
Gabriel Batistuta was one of the all-time great finishers. He could score from practically anywhere on the pitch, and his power and ferocity allowed him to fully use this skill. He earned the nickname “Batigol” after scoring 300 goals in 494 competitive matches and another 56 goals in 78 games for Argentina.
Batistuta won the Copa America twice with Argentina, as well as two league crowns and one domestic cup. His best performances were with Fiorentina in Italy. He might have gained the notoriety his talent merited if he had played for a bigger team during his prime.
9. Dani Carvajal
Would Daniel Carvajal rank anywhere near the top of a ranking of the world’s best full-backs? If not, it’s most likely due to the poor media coverage he’s been receiving. Exit rumours, lengthy injury stints, and one poor season have all contributed to our belief that the Spaniard is no longer an elite-level player, but the reality couldn’t be more different.
Carvajal remains vital to Real Madrid, with his strong form last season even helping the club win its second La Liga title since coming from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. He’s made 291 appearances in all, scoring six goals and assisting 50 times while also making an impact at the back with his strong defensive ability.
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8. Ronald Koeman
While Ronald Koeman’s greatness has been mostly forgotten, he would be on my roster of all-stars any day.
Koeman was an extraordinary central defender because of his power and intellect. However, like the previous greats in his position, he was a wonderful footballer as well. His passing talent rivalled some of the top playmakers in the world and he leveraged this ability to even better effect with his free-kick taking. With 227 goals in 652 games, he may be the top goalscoring defence ever. In fact, he led all scorers at the 1994 European Championships (now the Champions League).
Both the Netherlands’ lone European Championships triumph in 1988 and PSV Eindhoven’s lone European Cup victory that year were directed by Ronald Koeman. He won another European Cup with Barcelona, and eight league titles during his club career.
7. Fernando Torres
The great career of the Spanish forward was marked by an unprecedented number of victories. After beginning his career at Atletico Madrid, Torres made the move to Liverpool in 2007. As a result, he became a fan favourite at Anfield before making the tough decision to leave for a disputed £50 million transfer to Chelsea in 2011.
Torres won the FA Cup, the Europa League, and the Champions League with the west London club despite not being at his best when wearing the blue jersey. Fernando Torres has won three major tournaments with Spain: Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, and Euro 2012. In both the 2008 and 2012 finals, he scored the game-winning goal. With 38 goals for his country’s team, he ranks third all-time.
In the midst of his most productive goal-scoring stretch, he set a new Liverpool record by becoming the club’s fastest player to reach 50 league goals. In his debut season at Anfield, he became the first Liverpool player to score more than 20 league goals in a season since Robbie Fowler in 1995–96.
6. Sergio Busquets
Busquets has been the midfield lynchpin of every team he has played for (Courtesy: FIFA)
When it comes to Barcelona FC, the names that come to mind first are Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Xavi, or Ronaldinho, but Sergio Busquets may appear on lists of top football players. However, most professional observers agree that he is an important player for Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
In the early stages of his career, which began with a La Liga match in 2008 (Barcelona vs. Racing Santander, September 13, 2008), he was frequently chastised for simulations that were the source of numerous famous internet memes. Furthermore, he appeared to be a professional but fairly ordinary player who was simply performing his job without any creative flair that distinguishes matches and footballers.
However, after several years with Barcelona, Busquets established himself as an indispensable team member. His strong points are his accuracy and quickness; according to FIFA.com and UEFA.com statistics, 95 percent of his passes are accurate.
5. Clarence Seedorf
According to Champions, the official UEFA magazine, Clarence Seedorf was formerly ranked seventh in the Top-20 Champion League players of all time and received 14 individual honours, including the UEFA Best Midfielder Award in 2006-07 and the FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball.
Surprisingly, few top charts contain Seedorf, and this was true even when he retired as a player in 2013. He made several huge mistakes and experienced failures, yet he was still a player of the highest calibre with unique honours. For example, he was Ajax’s youngest professional player and the only football player to win the Champions League with three distinct teams: Ajax, Real Madrid, and AC Milan.
4. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Schweinsteiger’s world rating may be lower than he deserves due to his poor experience at Manchester United due to the traumas he received during games and training. Health issues also prevented him from performing brilliantly in the 2012 UEFA Championship. He received little criticism from soccer fans, the media, and other players, but in the end, he remains a distinguished Bayern Munich player.
Schweinsteiger is not regarded as one of the greatest players in the world, but Germany treated him better. He was honoured by Joachim Low, who stated that Bastian was one of the key German midfielders. His fans primarily value him for his unique ability to predict the opponent’s tactic and maintain control of the entire game. He demonstrated a combination of tactics and proficiency. Bastian was named German Footballer of the Year and received numerous UEFA and FIFA awards.
3. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, named Dutch Football Talent of the Year in 2003-2004, is best known for his European League performances. However, his improvements in international performance with the Netherlands national team are also noteworthy: 42 goals in 78 matches and 48 victories over various teams during the League.
He scored 400 goals during his career, putting him close to the top ten list of world strikers. He has not become a big football star, but one cannot deny the significance of his role in the National team and Ajax, the main football club in his career as a striker.
2. Olivier Giroud
Returning to Olivier Giroud, despite not being highly rated most of the time, the Frenchman has played an important role in the success of every team he has played for. The 36-year-old has 258 club goals in 640 appearances and has won more than ten league titles.
Olivier Giroud proved his worth against Poland on Sunday, scoring a record-breaking 52nd goal for France to become the country’s all-time leading scorer. Thierry Henry, a legendary Arsenal and Barcelona forward, previously held the record.
Among other trophies, he has won one Ligue 1 title with Montpellier, three FA Cups with Arsenal, one UEFA Champions League title with Chelsea, and one Serie A title with Milan. Meanwhile, his greatest achievement may be winning the FIFA World Cup with France in 2018.
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1. Thomas Müller
Muller has won multiple titles in both club and international football (Courtesy: The Real Champs)
Thomas Muller is a contradictory football personality. He does not play in any classical style and does not have perfect physical characteristics. He is frequently criticised for lacking qualities such as stamina or accuracy, but his game is a great support for both Bayern and the National team.
His skill is in playing multiple roles and anticipating the game to switch between them. He is not a lone player who acts independently, but rather someone with a genuine tactical intelligence gift. Thomas Muller has been at the Allianz Arena since 2000, and he has made over 600 appearances for the club since his debut in 2008.
Müller finished the 2010 World Cup with five goals and three assists, earning him the Golden Boot and the title of Best Young Player of the Tournament. The Bayern Munich star had a roller coaster of emotions on his birthday after his home was burgled during the Champions League match against Barcelona.
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