The Premier League has played host to some of the biggest names in world football since its inception in 1992. It is regarded by many as the best and most competitive domestic league in European football, with some of the biggest clubs fighting for the elusive Premier League title.
However, some elite footballers have flown under the radar despite impressive performances throughout their playing careers.
Today, we rank the five most underrated players in Premier League history.
#5 Leighton Baines
The former Everton man has been one of the best left-backs in the Premier League over the past decade and was highly regarded for his set-piece abilities.
Leighton Baines was a stalwart for the Toffees during his 13-year stay at the club, registering a whopping 420 appearances. He typified the role of a modern fullback, as he was one of the best left-backs going forward.
Baines notched up 39 goals and 67 assists during his time at Everton and was equally adept at executing his defensive duties. It is no surprise that the likes of Manchester United were heavily linked with the Englishman’s signature.
The former England international hung up his boots at the end of the 2019-20 footballing calendar, leaving the Toffees as a legend of the club.
#4 Ricardo Carvalho
Ricardo Carvalho is regarded by many as one of the best centre-halfs in the Premier League era after a memorable six-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
The former Portugal international was one of Jose Mourinho’s first signings when he was appointed Chelsea manager in 2004. Carvalho was an indispensable part of Mourinho’s well-drilled backline and played a vital role in Chelsea’s consecutive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.
The Portuguese was an integral part of the Blues defense that holds the record for the least goals conceded in a Premier League season (15 goals conceded in 2004-05).
The now-44-year old would add another Premier League trophy to his cabinet in 2010 and has also won two League Cups, three FA Cups and one Community Shield. Carvalho is one of the finest defenders in modern football, but he rarely gets the praise and plaudits he deserves.
#3 James Milner
James Milner is one of the most underrated Premier League players of his generation, despite winning the league title thrice across two different clubs.
The Englishman wasn’t a bystander in any of these teams either, as he played a vital role in Manchester City’s title wins in 2012 and 2014. Milner was also a key presence in Liverpool’s first league title of the Premier League era.
He has donned various hats during his time in Manchester and Liverpool. In the 2013-14 season, Milner featured as a right midfielder in 20 matches, while he appeared as a left midfielder 19 times. The 2011-12 season saw Milner feature mainly in a central and right midfield role.
The 35-year-old is one of the most versatile players in Premier League history and he briefly appeared as a full-back in Liverpool’s glorious 2019-20 campaign.
Milner is undoubtedly one of the most successful footballers in the Premier League over the past decade, and Mr. Reliable deserves more accolades for his consistent performances.
#2 Park Ji-Sung
The former South Korean international formed an indispensable part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the 2000s.
Park Ji-Sung is arguably the most underrated Premier League player of the 21st century, and he never really received the deserved recognition and plaudits. Currently serving as a club ambassador for Manchester United, Park Ji-Sung was one of the most consistent and reliable performers under Sir Alex. He provided impeccable support to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, to name just a few.
Many considered the signing of Park Ji-Sung to be a commercial move, but he proved his doubters wrong time and time again. He became only the second Asian player to represent the historic club, and would go on to score 28 goals and provide 29 assists from 207 appearances for the Red Devils.
Park Ji-Sung functioned as the untiring workhorse in the middle of the park and always gave more than his 100% for the Manchester United badge.
#1 Denis Irwin
The Manchester United great partook in the very first season of Premier League football and, till date, remains one of the best left-backs in its history.
Denis Irwin was signed from Oldham Athletic in 1990 for a paltry sum of £625,000 but was worth his weight in gold. He was a regular feature in the dominant Manchester United side in 1990s and was one of the most consistent performers in the squad.
The Irishman enjoyed a trophy-laden 12-year spell at Old Trafford, winning a total of 19 titles at the club. That includes seven Premier League titles, three FA Cup titles and a Champions League trophy, just to name a few.
Irwin was also an integral part of the historic treble-winning Manchester United side in 1999, and won three consecutive Premier League titles between 1999 and 2001. He notched up a mammoth tally of 460 appearances for the Red Devils, including 328 Premier League appearances (32 for Wolves).