3 Premier League players who have gone under the radar this season
The 2019-20 edition of the Premier League has lived up to its billing so far and although the bigger teams of yesteryear have struggled for form and consistency, the English top-flight has had its fair share of moments to look back upon. Sheffield United and Leicester City, in particular, have taken the league by storm so far this season and Chelsea have been rejuvenated after former fan favourite Frank Lampard took over the reins from the outgoing Maurizio Sarri, who left upon winning the Europa League with the Blues to replace Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.
Manchester United and Arsenal have failed to live up to their initial promise and Tottenham Hotspur are experiencing changing times after the club opted to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in favour of Jose Mourinho, who returned to the managerial hot-seat 11 months after his sacking at Old Trafford.
In terms of individual performances, the usual suspects have carried on from where they left off last season as the likes of Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergio Aguero have dazzled in recent weeks, as they've done so often in the past. Football is a team sport and it has often been the case that some players go under the radar despite delivering the goods regularly for their respective clubs.
On that note, let's look at three players who've gone under the radar so far this season.
#3 Matt Ryan - Brighton & Hove Albion
Mat Ryan has been one of the standout performers for a much changes Brighton & Hove Albion side this season and the Australian shot-stopper is arguably one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the Premier League at the moment. In what has been a summer of change for the Seagulls, Graham Potter has taken over the reins from Chris Hughton and the former Stoke City boss has adopted a brand of possession-based attacking football that is easy on the eye.
The 27-year-old has been rock solid between the sticks for his side and has given his defenders some much-needed solidarity at the back, as his shot-stopping prowess coupled with his ability to command the box has seen them win a handful of games this season, particularly at the Amex Stadium.
Only Bernd Leno (53) has made more saves than Ryan (50) this season and the former Valencia goalkeeper and enhanced his growing in recent weeks with a string of top-class performances.
Ryan, alongside Vicente Guaita, has been the most underrated goalkeeper in the Premier League this season and his form will be crucial if Brighton are to consolidate their position in the English top-flight.
#2 John Fleck - Sheffield United
Sheffield United have been the surprise package of the Premier League season so far and find themselves in sixth place after 13 matchdays, a stunning return for a newly-promoted side. The Blades have not just returned to the grandest stage for the first time in 12 years, they've done so by taking the Premier League by storm with their style of play and mental fortitude.
The likes of Lys Mousset and John Lundstram have received plaudits in recent weeks for their goalscoring exploits, but John Fleck has gone under the radar despite producing the goods consistently.
The Scottish international has been an indispensable member of Chris Wilder's squad this season and has finally made a name for himself as a reliable Premier League player at the age of 28, after being touted for big things as a 16-year-old.
Fleck is a tough-tackling midfielder with a wealth of experience, and his unique ability to pick out a defence-splitting pass or two whilst guarding his centre-halves makes him an invaluable asset for the newly-promoted side. The former Rangers man, operating as a central midfielder, combines the best of both worlds perfectly and is a vital cog of the Blades' philosophy.
Wilder's side, in many ways, have revolutionized the Premier League with their concept of overlapping centre-halves and as the name suggests, the two wider central defenders in a back-three overlap the fullbacks in the final third, creating an unfamiliar situation for the defending team. Fleck's presence in midfield is key to their style of play and the 28-year-old has also developed a knack of producing the goods in the big games, with standout performances against the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal this season.
#1 Adama Traore - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Since bursting onto the scene as a highly-rated 17-year-old from the famed La Masia academy, its safe to say Adama Traore's career hasn't gone as planned but in recent weeks, the former Barcelona fan has had a renaissance of sorts. Although his ability is unquestionable, Traore was often slated for his decision making and lacked the end product to play for a serious club in Europe.
His tendency to blow hot and cold multiple times in a single game made him an unreliable asset and clubs continued to ignore him until Remi Garde came along and opted to bring him to England. Aston Villa gambled on the youngster but to no avail, as Traore failed to deliver the goods in the Premier League before being shipped off to Middlesbrough, where he began to make a name for himself.
After achieving promotion to the top-flight in 2018, Wolverhampton Wanderers opted to part with £20 million to acquire his services and the Spaniard has finally made a name for himself in the Premier League, in his second season at the club. After initially being used as a super-sub who would come on late in games and devastate opposition teams with his explosiveness, Traore has become a mainstay of Nuno Espirito Santo's side and looks all set to have his best season yet.
The 23-year-old made headlines early in the season, as his stunning brace buoyed his side on to a surprise 2-0 victory against reigning champions Manchester City at the Etihad. In recent weeks, Traore's end product has improved drastically and his return to the side has coincided with an upturn of form Wolves, as Nuno's side are unbeaten in 7 Premier League games.
A serial match-winner on his day, Traore has finally come of age in the Premier League and has been the difference-maker for his side on multiple occasions this season. He was rewarded for his form with a call-up to the Spanish National Team and although he had to withdraw from the squad owing to a minor injury, the fact that he was called up is a startling example of how much he's developed this season.