Monday, January 8, 2024

SHOCKING!!! Paul Merson names the 5 most underrated players in the Premier League

I sat down and thought about this for a while and finally came up with a list of players who I personally believe have slipped under the radar. You might see one or two usual suspects on the list – like Douglas Luiz at #5 – but I’ve been on about the Aston Villa man for god knows how long, so people know I’ve always been a huge fan of him.

It would’ve been easy for me to say names like Cole Palmer – who has been fantastic since swapping Manchester City for Chelsea – but the ones who I’ve mentioned have either genuinely taken me by surprise this season or continued to produce the goods consistently without even getting a shout.

On that note, here are the five most underrated players in the Premier League, starting with Aston Villa’s all-action Brazilian.

5. Douglas Luiz | Aston Villa

Douglas Luiz is an established campaigner, so I’m putting him at #5. When Arsenal wanted to sign him a year ago, but people didn’t really rate him too highly but now, everyone can see what he’s all about as he’s been absolutely ripping it up for Aston Villa this season.

He can sit as a holding midfielder and mop things up for his team but he also gets in the box and scores goals – as we’ve seen so often this season. He’s quite well-rounded and still very underrated, but in the 2023-24 campaign, he has started getting his fair share of recognition.

People wouldn’t put him in the same breath as Declan Rice or Rodri, but based on their performances this season, I’d certainly put Luiz up there with the pair. With Casemiro and Fabinho past their best in recent seasons, the ex-Manchester City midfielder could also become a key player for Brazil in the years ahead.

4. Alfie Doughty | Luton Town

Alfie Doughty is a very good footballer, but somehow no one talks about him because he plays for Luton Town. He’s got a fantastic left foot and is very good at set-pieces, while he’s also shown in recent weeks that he can deputize on the right flank if needed.

I always have time for intelligent footballers and Doughty is one of those, I rate him very highly. Ross Barkley has earned plaudits in recent weeks for his performances at Luton, but this young lad continues to slip under the radar.

3. Ethan Pinnock | Brentford

Brentford are not doing well at the moment, but Ethan Pinnock is someone who turns up week in and week. There’s no thrills and spills when he’s on the ball and that’s what I like about him – he’s a center half who keeps it simple and gets the job done regardless of who he plays with.

Nowadays, we want defenders who are good on the ball, but the name of the game is to defend first. Pinnock doesn’t make too many mistakes and has played alongside a handful of players at the back due to Brentford’s injury crisis, but he’s always a 7/10 player. He never even gets a mention, let alone the credit he deserves.

2. Hwang Hee-chan | Wolverhampton Wanderers

What Hwang Hee-chan is doing for Wolves at the moment is unreal – he’s scored ten Premier League goals for a team that isn’t particularly free-scoring. If he scores another seven league goals, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone comes and takes him at the end of the season. Hwang recently signed a new contract, but I think Wolves have done that just to cover themselves in case one of the big boys make a move for him.

When we talk about goalscorers in the Premier League, Mohamed Salah, Erling Haaland and Son Heung-min undoubtedly get a mention, but in the current campaign, the likes of Dominik Solanke and Jarrod Bowen are getting a mention before Hwang, which is proof that he has continued to slip under the radar despite producing the goods consistently.

Hwang can play across the forward line and is lightning-quick and sharp, making him a dream for any manager in the world. He’s taken his game to another level this season under Gary O’Neil and is a big part of where Wolves are at the moment.

1. Destiny Udogie | Tottenham Hotspur

I think Destiny Udogie is the best left-back in the Premier League at the moment, where has this lad come from? Anyone could have bought him, but Spurs signed him in 2022 and loaned him back to Udinese, which seems to have worked wonders for him. Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that with the technology and scouting system available in the game currently, no one else had a look at this guy!

I watched him earlier in the season and he got booked after five minutes when he was playing against Bukayo Saka. After that, the Arsenal wideman didn’t have a kick, which was an early indication that he would be a player. I thought it might have been a fluke, but Udogie has gone from strength to strength as the season has progressed – he’s an absolutely outstanding talent.

There are a lot of full-backs who are good going forward but can’t really defend, but Udogie is an all-round package, making him one of the most exciting players in the world in his position. He’s come back from Udinese and really flourished and is getting all the accolades now, so people might say he’s not really underrated. I just feel like after what he’s done this season, he deserves a mention, so he tops my list.

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