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5 players at top clubs you may have forgotten about

Miralem Pjanic (left) and Michy Batshuayi (right)
Miralem Pjanic (left) and Michy Batshuayi (right)

Securing a dream move to a top club is one thing, but staying there and thriving is an entirely different thing altogether. There are plenty of players who have joined one of Europe's top clubs only to fade into obscurity.

This happens due to a number of reasons. It could be due to the fact that the player turns out to be a poor fit for the system and tactics used by the manager.

Or it could be that the player might have trouble settling down or getting used to a new environment. He could also lose his spot in the starting lineup due to an injury and fail to earn it back afterwards.

No matter how it happens, it is quite unfortunate to become a forgotten figure at any club. Without further ado, let's take a look at five players at top clubs you may have forgotten about.


#5 Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)

1. FC Nürnberg v Arsenal F.C. - Pre-Season Test Match
1. FC Nürnberg v Arsenal F.C. - Pre-Season Test Match

It wasn't long ago that Hector Bellerin was viewed as one of the best full-backs in the Premier League. The Spaniard lit up the Premier League with his electric pace and tenacity. However, Bellerin has now become an irrelevant figure at Arsenal at a time when he should be hitting his peak.

The 27-year-old secured a loan move to Real Betis last summer and spent the 2021-22 season in La Liga. Bellerin had outgrown life in north London by then and Mikel Arteta revealed the same in a press conference last September after the full-back had moved to Real Betis.

Arteta said (via DailyCannon):

“He needed a new challenge, he’s needed a new challenge for a while now. After discussions for a long time we decided to let him go because it was the right thing for him as well."

Bellerin is now back at Arsenal following his loan spell and is one of the players the Gunners have deemed surplus to requirements. According to Estadio Deportivo, Real Betis are ready to offer €4 million to sign him. That's quite a fall from grace for a player who was once tipped to become a huge star.

#4 Rafinha Alcantara (Paris Saint-Germain)

Paris Saint Germain v RC Strasbourg - Ligue 1 Uber Eats
Paris Saint Germain v RC Strasbourg - Ligue 1 Uber Eats

Rafinha Alcantara is a La Masia product and the younger brother of Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara. He rose through the ranks at Barcelona and made his debut for the senior side in 2011. However, it wasn't until three years later that he became a regular feature in the first team.

But Rafinha couldn't nail down a starting spot due to recurring injury issues and was sent on multiple loan spells before he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2020. The Brazilian joined Real Sociedad on loan in the January transfer window earlier this year. He couldn't make much of an impact at Sociedad and has since returned to PSG.

As things stand, he has entered the final year of his contract with PSG. If he doesn't secure a move this summer, we are unlikely to see much of him next season.

#3 Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid)

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22
Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22

Dani Ceballos impressed during his two-season loan spell at Arsenal but the player wanted to return to Real Madrid to fight for a place in the starting XI. Well, that hasn't really gone according to plan as Ceballos started just two league games under Carlo Ancelotti last season.

He has now entered the final year of his contract with Real Madrid but remains confident over his role at the club in the upcoming season. Following the arrival of Aurelien Tchouameni from AS Monaco, Ceballos is likely to fall further down the pecking order.

However, in an interview with Cadena SER, via Mundo Deportivo, Ceballos revealed that he believes things can turn around if he does well in pre-season. He said:

“In the last stretch of 2021/22, the coach placed his trust in me and that’s important. Now the important thing is start preseason well, because I think I can get a lot of minutes.”
Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos and Takefusa Kubo are amongst the most prominent names on Real Madrid's eight-man unwanted list. (Mail) https://t.co/UAo2uGAuwg

#2 Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)

Arsenal v Chelsea - Pre Season Friendly
Arsenal v Chelsea - Pre Season Friendly

There is a lot of talk these days about how strikers are failing to thrive at Chelsea. Plenty of high-profile marksmen like Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku, Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata, to name a few, have failed to establish themselves as reliable goalscoring outlets at Stamford Bridge.

But even when we recount such players, a name that gets left out often is Michy Batshuayi. The Belgium international joined Chelsea in 2016 but never really hit the heights expected of him. He has since been sent out on loan to Borussia Dortmund, Valencia, Crystal Palace and Besiktas.

Batshuayi is now back at Chelsea and strangely enough, Thomas Tuchel is ready to offer him another chance to impress. That's probably owing to the circumstances at hand. However, the German coach revealed in an interview with the club website on Tuesday (July 19) that he is keeping an open mind on returning players.

He said (via The Chelsea Chronice):

“Everyone has the chance now to show up. The big part is that the players that are now here, it’s a nice group of players. It’s an open group of players who make it easy for you to feel welcome and show your best level.
“It’s not always like this, that’s what makes the group special. That’s why the youngsters and players like Michy Batshuayi, and everyone who is new in the group, they have a big, big chance."

In 77 appearances for Chelsea so far across all competitions, the 28-year-old has scored 25 goals and provided six assists.

#1 Miralem Pjanic (Barcelona)

Olot v FC Barcelona - Pre-Season Friendly
Olot v FC Barcelona - Pre-Season Friendly

Barcelona swapped Arthur Melo for Miralem Pjanic from Juventus in one of the most bizarre transfers of the 2020 summer transfer window. Both players were thriving at their respective clubs but have struggled since the swap.

In fact, Pjanic fell out of favor with Barcelona's former manager Ronald Koeman pretty quickly and started just six La Liga games in the 2020-21 season. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international was not pleased with the treatment meted out to him by Koeman and secured a loan move to Besiktas last summer.

He is now back at Barcelona and it feels a little strange to see him at the Camp Nou. For one, it has been two seasons since he joined Barcelona but we've seen very little of him there. Prior to his move, Pjanic was widely regarded as one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the game. His fall from grace has been too abrupt.

According to SPORT, the 32-year-old has impressed Xavi Hernandez in pre-season training and is likely to be given a chance to prove his worth ahead of the new campaign.

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Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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