Michael Carrick and the Premier League’s four most underrated players

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Updated: January 17, 2013
Michael-Carrick

World football is full of many talents but some never reach their through potential while others merely live in the shadow of four time world player of the year Lionel Messi and his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

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The Premier League has long been regarded as one of the best if not the best league in the world, although recent events such as the world team of the year possessing 11 Spanish based players would tell you La Liga has a huge stake to that claim.

Nonetheless despite the snub the Premier League is brimming with talent and here we chart the progress of the top five most underrated players currently plying their trade on English soil.

Michael Carrick
Six years ago the vast sum of £18m brought Michael Carrick from Spurs to Manchester United, a team that were seen to be in a period of great decline. Carrick was handed the number 16 shirt and immediately tasked with replacing former United captain Roy Keane.

His early days weren’t as prosperous as he would have liked but nonetheless his talent was there for all to see as United went on to beat Chelsea to the Champions League title on that fateful night in Moscow.

There have however been incidents where the former West Ham ace was hounded as a scapegoat for United’s defects, none more so than the 2009 Champions League Final when Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners, where is shown up by the Xavi, Iniesta and Messi.

He has however moved on from then and Carrick is now having his finest season to date and is United’s second most influential player behind the potent goal threat that is Robin van Persie.

The Newcastle born star is not known for his goalscoring ability but his ability to control a game and his precision passing have been at times comparable to the great Andrea Pirlo.

The Englishman, now 31, is the genuine complete article. A model midfielder. His influence on United’s game is more pronounced than ever before. He pulls the strings in attack – dictates the tempo, rhythm and style of their play. His short passing is equally as good as his long. His strength in defence has even resulted in featuring as a make-shift centre back when injuries and suspensions depleted United’s ranks.

It’s a damning indictment of English football that a player Sir Alex Ferguson proclaims is as good as Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard has started only 16 England games in 12 years.

Carrick may not only be the most underrated player in the Premier League but in world football as a whole

Steven Pienaar
Everton have a world class left side, with Steven Pienaar combining brilliantly with Leighton Baines this season. The Toffees have been buoyed by the South African’s return from a spell at Spurs and he’s hitting form at the right time.

Pienaar has always flourished under the radar and while not been held in the same regard as other world class wingers his ability is second to none on his day. Passing, crossing and an eye for goal are all key components of his play and he has prospered since returning home to Goodison Park last summer.

Mohamed Diame
Diame joined West Ham last summer, opting to move to Upton Park despite many big name suitors including Liverpool. The former Wigan Athletic star is one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League and it’s no wonder that there is increased speculation about another move been on the agenda in this transfer window.

The combative midfielder covers more ground than most players and his tackling and drive have been key components in helping to re-establish Sam Allardyce’s side in the top flight. Indeed his tackling and dribbling abilities far outweigh those of Man City star Yaya Toure and the Hammers will be hoping to keep hold of their prized asset.

Leon Britton
The 30 year old Britton is the only British player whose passing and ball control abilities can ever be comparable to Barcelona magician Xavi.

Last January it was revealed that Britton had the highest pass completion rate of any footballer in the world at that point of the 2011/12 season with a 93.3% rate, 0.3% better than his illustrious opponent.

His control, vision and knack for picking out the inch perfect pass make watching Swansea City a treat for any pure football fan. Although this is not to say that the Swans are by any means a one man team.

Ryan Shawcross
Fresh from signing the longest contract in the history of Stoke City, Shawcross is playing the best football of his life, throwing his body on line to block shots. He leads a very stubborn back four with his brute force and physical presence.

His command and reading of the game make him a big asset to any team and Tony Pulis has done well to secure the services of Shawcross, who had been catching the eye of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

At 25 he represents the future of the English national team and 2013 will be a big year for the Stoke skipper to cement his place in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Matthew Pritchard

    01/17/2013 at 8:11 pm

    Anyone who doesn’t recognise Michael Carrick’s genius in midfield doesn’t understand the finer points of the beautiful game… simple as that. This season he has been every inch a Paul Scholes type player… and in that I mean the Paul Scholes of old – a player the greats of the game have called the finest English player they ever played against. Maybe not in the goal scoring department, but certainly in his command of the midfield and his passing. And while he doesn’t score like a young Scholes, he brings other abilities… like defensive tackling, which Scholes never could.

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