From Leicester’s Wilfred N’didi to Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung-Min Son: who are the Premier League’s most under-rated stars?
While the Premier League approaches the half-way mark, now would be a good chance to look back on what top-flight player has managed to go about their business exceptionally well and doing so while being under the radar.
Brandished as one of the most competitive leagues in the world, the Premier League hosts a list of household names from Manchester United’s Paul Pogba down to Bournemouth’s Jermain Defoe, but who has performed well beyond expectations.
Although the dominance of Manchester City is there for everyone to see and their players receiving all the plaudits justifiably so, many other clubs have gone about their work inconspicuously.
Here are five under-rated stars who are yet to catch the Premier League limelight.
5) James Tarkowski- Burnley
While it can be argued the entire Burnley starting eleven should feature since leading their way to the brink of the Champion League places, defender Tarkowski has played a pivotal role.
It must not be misunderstood, the Manchester-born centre-back is not the most majestic or ball-playing defender you will ever come across but his leadership and never give up attitude is infectious.
Within his 17 league appearances, the 25-year-old has made more blocks than any other Premier League player (27) and the second-most clearances (141).
To have a man with such surety and reliability, the Clarets have steered their way to one of the league’s best defences after helping them to gain promotion from the Football League.
An achievement which Tarkowski has starred in, Sean Dyche’s men have conceded just 12 goals in 17 games, a record which can only be bettered by league leaders Manchester City and second place Manchester United.
If Burnley are to maintain this miraculous form, its hard to not see Tarkowski’s own performance being the deciding factor.
4) Kiko Femenia– Watford
The Spanish right-back has been a revelation to Marco Silva’s side and provides the Hornets some very much needed width down the right flank.
Having experienced difficult starts at Barcelona and Real Madrid playing for their B teams, the 26-year-old has adjusted to life in the Premier League superbly.
Going on to make 15 appearances and helping Watford to ninth place, eight points clear of the drop.
Working under Silva and his profound tactical philosophy, Femenia has become a vital part to Watford’s attack. He is always on the lookout for the chance to overlap and can help outweigh opponent’s defensive numbers.
3) Joe Gomez – Liverpool
Having returned to the squad following injury, Gomez has steadied a leaky back line. Liverpool have conceded three in their last four and as few as seven since the thrashing at Tottenham in October.
He looks assured at the back and provides defensive nuance well beyond his age. At 20-years-old, he has remarkable composure and maturity on the ball.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has been eager to field Gomez with the newly capped England star making 12 appearances.
His good form saw him make his England debut against Germany in the 0-0 draw at Wembley where he started on the left of a back three.
2) Wilfred N’didi – Leicester City
Since the recent arrival of new Leicester manager Claude Puel, the central midfielder’s performances appear to have reached a higher gear.
The Nigeria international arrived in January this year for £17 million from Genk and has gone on to feature in all of Leicester’s Premier League appearances this season.
At just 20-years-old, he has already garnered the ability to dictate games and acts an unmoving wall in front of the Foxes back four.
He has made the most tackles in the league this season (73) as well as the most tackles per 90 minutes (4.3).
With wide starlets DemaraiGray and Riyad Mahrez hitting the headlines, the efforts of N’didi have gone unnoticed. He has been integral to winning the ball back and alongside fellow midfielder Vincente Iborra, they have built a foundation which allows the players in front attack.
1) Heung- Min Son – Tottenham Hotspur
Time and time again Son has proved to be Mauricio Pochettino’s most influential attacking player and this was the case again when Tottenham overcame Brighton on Wednesday.
The South Korean has scored in his last four games and up until now, it was Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane who marvelled in the spotlight.
While the trio are lauded when things are going well it is Son who drags Spurs through the game where their performances are below par.
However, it is becoming rather cliché to say that Son has saved Pochettino’s side from dropping points having scored the winner against Palace and his goal giving them a less inspiring point at Watford.