The ongoing 2020-21 season has been a surreal one for both players and teams. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the previous season had a belated conclusion. As a result, the ongoing season came about after a shorter-than-usual turnaround.
That has meant that many top teams and players have struggled to hit the ground running, a situation that has been exacerbated with fixture congestion in various competitions.
Premier League champions Liverpool have been knocked off top spot after dropping points in too many games. La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have had underwhelming starts, and the duo trail surprise league leaders Atletico Madrid.
In Italy, serial winners Juventus have struggled for consistency, finding themselves a lowly fourth in the league table at the mid-way point of the season. The same also holds for a bevy of world-class players.
Lionel Messi and Raheem Sterling are only beginning to hit their stride after uncharacteristically slow starts to their respective campaigns. On that note, let us have a look at five such world-class players who have underwhelmed this season.
Five world-class players who have underwhelmed this season:
#5 Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
However, this season, the Frenchman has made only four league appearances and has fallen down the club's pecking order after a six-month injury-enforced absence last season.
Often a reassuring presence in defense, Laporte is no longer a guaranteed starter at City, especially after the arrival of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake and the improving form of John Stones.
Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola still thinks highly of the player, recently saying:
“Aymeric continues to be really important for us, but right now I’m playing other guys. In the future, I’m pretty sure he’s going to play a lot of games.”
#4 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Jadon Sancho is one of the brightest young talents in world football at the moment. The English winger enjoyed a breakthrough season with Borussia Dortmund last season, scoring and assisting goals galore in the Bundesliga.
However, the 20-year-old has appeared uncharacteristically off the pace this season. After conjuring 17 goals and as many assists to help Dortmund to second place in the 2019-20 Bundesliga, Sancho went scoreless in his first 12 games in the competition this season before breaking his duck against Wolfsburg.
Jadon Sancho has looked like a pale shadow of his illustrious self this season, possibly because a much-touted move to Manchester United did not materialize for the player in the summer.
Sancho admitted his difficulties about enduring a slow start to the season when he said:
"Obviously this season has been very difficult for me personally. So I knew when I went away, I just focused on my game and came back raring to go. I'm working hard every day in training and on the pitch, so I'm just happy to get my goals and assists."