Being a superstar comes with its fair share of perks and disadvantages. On one hand, you are one of the richest and most famous people in the world, capable of enjoying anything your heart desires. On the other, you are constantly scrutinized for your setbacks, you are slandered for the tiniest of mistakes.
Today, we will take a look at five superstars who have had a tough time keeping critics off their backs this season. All five have immense talent and a proven track record, which should help them set the record straight in the second half of the season.
Now, without further ado, let's check out five players who have a point to prove in the second half of the 2021-22 campaign:
#5 Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane enjoyed a blistering Premier League campaign in 2020-21. He registered 23 goals and 18 assists, emerging as the league’s leading goalscorer and assist provider.
Before the start of the 2021-22 campaign, the Englishman was adamant about joining Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur, who have a contract with the player until June 2024, blocked the move as they didn’t want him to go to a direct rival.
Following the botched move, Kane has struggled to find consistency in front of goal for the north London side. Antonio Conte’s arrival has helped his case, with four of his five Premier League goals coming in the last six games.
The 28-year-old still has a mountain to climb in the second half of the season and Spurs will need him to succeed to keep their top-four ambitions alive.
#4 Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo has been Manchester United’s leading scorer in all competitions this season and it seems unfair to call him an underperformer. But a look at his career tally suggests a sharp decline in his performances this season.
Having left Juventus in the dying embers of the summer transfer window, Ronaldo marked his Old Trafford return with a brace against Newcastle United. He scored another goal against West Ham United on matchday four, guiding the Red Devils to a hard-fought 1-2 win away from home.
Since that explosive couple of games, his goal-return has dried up significantly in the Premier League, with him adding only five in the next 16.
In the Champions League, however, Ronaldo has looked as sharp as ever, netting six in five appearances.
Expecting the soon-to-be 37-year-old to fire on all cylinders at all times is hardly realistic. But United fans still hope for their No.7 to turn back the clock and be their guiding light.
The man himself is also confident of ending the season on a high. It will be interesting to see how he goes about his business when the Premier League returns next week.
#3 Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea
Premier League giants Chelsea spent a club-record €113million to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan last summer.
The Belgian, who joined the Blues from boyhood club RSC Anderlecht in 2011, didn’t have the opportunity to make it big in his first spell. Now, returning as a mature and prolific centre-forward, the striker was expected to set the Premier League alight with his skills and goals.
Unfortunately, nothing has gone according to plan for the big Belgian. He has only scored five times in 16 Premier League games this season, often cutting a frustrating figure up top.
The 28-year-old also drew a lot of flak for the controversial interview where he confessed that his heart was still at Inter. Fortunately, the situation has since been resolved, courtesy of his public apology.
#2 Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain
Keeping the great Lionel Messi on such a list seems absurd, but considering his lackluster goalscoring form in Ligue 1, we couldn’t help ourselves.
Since his move to Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the season, the Argentine has taken part in 12 French top-flight games. To everyone’s utter surprise, he has only scored one goal for the Ligue 1 club, although he has provided six assists.
The 34-year-old has taken 44 shots in Ligue 1, with 12 of those being on target. It is safe to say that his conversion rate has hardly been Messi-like in Ligue 1.
But his Champions League stats for the Parisians are great. The Argentina skipper has scored five goals in five UCL matches this season, proving that he hasn’t misplaced his shooting boots.
In the second half of the campaign, PSG fans will need Messi to bring his continental form to their great country.
#1 Jack Grealish – Manchester City
Impressed by his exploits in the 2020-21 Premier League season, Manchester City spent €117.5 million to bring Jack Grealish to the Etihad Stadium from Aston Villa last summer.
Stacked in midfield, the Citizens did not necessarily need Grealish’s services. Pep Guardiola, however, insisted on getting the versatile Englishman and his wish, was granted.
Although more comfortable as an attacking midfielder, Grealish has primarily been used as a left-winger this season. His dribbling skills and link-up play have been as impressive as ever, but he has lacked the much-needed decisiveness in the final third.
In 16 Premier League appearances this season, the England international has only registered two goals and as many assists. To put his numbers into perspective, he registered six goals and 15 assists in 26 matches for Aston Villa last season.