Football is a team sport that requires the collective to function well to attain a favorable result. When a team wins, it is due to the hard work and effort of the eleven, but fans and pundits tend to credit specific individuals on most occasions. The likes of Mbappe, Haaland, Messi and Ronaldo grab all the spotlight, but their teammates are often overlooked.
While football fans fixate on stats like assists and goals, the value of some players cannot be measured through numbers.
On that note, let's look at:
5 of the most underrated superstars in football
#5 Georginio Wijnaldum
Liverpool's midfield maestro, Georginio Wijnaldum, is an irreplaceable presence in the heart of the Liverpool team. The Reds have won the Premier League and Champions League since he arrived in Merseyside.
Credit for the team's success has often gone to the Liverpool front three. While the trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino have notched up goals, the midfield, led by Wijnaldum, has been crucial in transitioning play from defense to attack. He is a solid presence in front of Liverpool's defense and has absorbed some pressure off the inexperienced pairing of Kabak and Phillips.
The Dutchman is also a forceful presence in the air, with 48 aerial duels won and 68 tackles to his name in the 2020/21 Premier League season. Along with this, he has an awe-inspiring 94% pass completion rate in the final third.
#5 Angel Di Maria
Di Maria has been one of the first names on the team-sheet for the Parisians ever since his move from Manchester United. The Argentine acts as the energy source that allows Neymar and Mbappe to flourish. Di Maria is known to be extremely creative with the football.
Operating mainly as a winger, Di Maria adds width and is a dangerous presence on the flanks. It also allows Neymar and Mbappe to operate more centrally. While the superstar duo receive all the plaudits from fans and pundits, Di Maria often slips under the radar. The Argentine is supremely skilled with the ball at his feet and has extreme precision while delivering crosses into the final third.
Di Maria has one of the highest pass competitions for a forward, at 80%. The former Champions League winner has been involved in 21 goals (6 goals and 15 assists) from 36 appearances this season.
#3 Sergio Busquets
The Spaniard is one of the most underrated midfielders of this era. Busquets has been an ever-present figure in Barcelona's star-studded squad. Much like Wijnaldum at Liverpool, Busquets is the engine at the heart of every defensive and offensive move the team makes.
The 32-year-old is one of the finest readers of the game. He also has razor-sharp precision while passing, which gives him the ability to find his teammates in dangerous positions. Coupled with his excellent positioning, footballers find it extremely difficult to get through him in midfield.
Busquets has redefined the defensive midfielder's role in modern football while also playing a significant part with the older generation of players like Xavi and Iniesta. The three-time Champions League winner is one of the few footballers capable of dictating the pace and tempo of a football match.
His abilities make him the perfect defensive midfielder for any team that wants to play a possession-based game.
Ideally, Busquets would find himself further up this list, but he's lost a bit of his usual sharpness in recent years. Nonetheless, he remains one of the best defensive midfielders in football today while also being criminally underrated.
#2 Thomas Muller
The former World Cup winner has been one of Bayern Munich's top performers this season, with 14 goals and 21 assists from 43 appearances. Muller often gets overshadowed by the likes of Lewandowski, but his contributions are vital to Bayern's success.
Over the years, Muller has earned his name as a reliable and consistent forward, with solid technique and a keen understanding of the game of football. The German is not an out-and-out striker but remains an essential ingredient in every attacking move his side makes. Muller, much like Ozil in his time at Arsenal, is exceptional with the "pre-assist." He is equally adept at finding the back of the net himself. However, in recent years, the 31-year-old has not received the attention he deserves.
Muller has fallen out of favor with the German national team as well. He last made an appearance for the team as a substitute in 2018. Germany has been horrendous in the World Cup Qualifiers, and it'll be a big surprise if Muller is not on the plane for the upcoming Euros.
#1 Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema has been one of the most lethal strikers over the past decade, but Real Madrid fans have only realized his immense value after the departure of Ronaldo and Bale.
Hazard was brought in from Chelsea to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Belgian has made no impact so far. With Los Blancos desperate for a leadership figure in attack, Karim Benzema stepped up once again. The Frenchman's impact at Madrid this season cannot be overstated. Benzema has been involved in 50% of Madrid's goals in La Liga, with 34 goal involvements (27 goals and 7 assists) from 39 appearances. The 33-year-old is exceptional at hold-up play and finishing, allowing him to fashion chances for others while converting many himself.
"The Benz" has been as crucial as Ronaldo to Madrid's Champions League glory in recent years. He scored a crucial home goal to equalize against Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal last night.