They were in the shadow of the star players, the amount of their transfers never exceeded the reasonable. Alongside those whose media exposure and market value are disproportionate to far inferior talent, these cuts would benefit from finally being recognized at their fair value.
1 – Mehdi Taremi – Porto
Only arriving in Portugal in 2019, at the age of 27, bought for 5 million euros by FC Porto in Rio Ave in 2020, the Iranian international quickly showed that he had certainly wasted a lot of time vegetating in the Gulf countries. “If he had arrived in Portugal a little earlier, he would be one of the giants of world football” said his coach at Rio Ave, Carlos Carvalhal, noting his incredible ability to adapt to the demands of European football.
Without being a revelation, because he was playing his second World Cup with Team Melli, Taremi (30) confirmed his 5 goals and 2 assists in the Champions League in Qatar (2 goals), a growth that cannot be denied. years and which could further accentuate in favor of a Champions League eighth-final against Inter in February. Like vastly overwhelmed 30-year-olds like Giroud, Ibra, CR7 or Benzema, Taremi still has a bright future ahead of him to make up for lost time.
2 – Nayef Aguerd – West Ham
This summer, West Ham recruited one of the best L1 defenders from Rennes, never suspecting that in January they would have one of the best defenders in the world! After the Atlas Lions epic, the former player trained in Rabat and moved to Dijon, revealing himself at the age of 26 in the eyes of the football world.
From the height of his 88 meters, his defensive quality and his left-handed technique, Aguerd competed with the best central defenders in the world, much more confident than Maguire, Vertonghen or Laporte and even Upamecano. Of French nationality, there is no doubt that he would have made his debut with the Blues. His absence from the semi-final was a blow to Moroccan ambitions.
3 – Dusan Tadic – Ajax
At 34, he’s obviously not partridge of the year… for guiding Ajax’s game to the point of being the essential element of their attacking animation for five seasons, right up to the gates of the Champions League final in 2019.
After four years in the Premier League playing against nature for Southampton (what a waste!), he found the game to suit him on the eve of his 30th birthday. And to see the best young ajacid products fly away every year, to see them so often stranded away from their nest. Because we don’t find anywhere a player of his class to play with the others. He’s Serbian, he’s at Ajax where he’s rightly considered a real star… at home.
4 – Heung-Min Son – Tottenham
Twice voted best player of the year at Tottenham, top scorer in the Premier League in 2022 (23 goals), the Korean’s consistency at a very high level of performance since his arrival in the English league eight years ago (never less than 20 goals per season), his 245 games for 96 goals and 50 assists, should make him a headliner for the Spurs.
However, the best Korean player in history only enjoys success across the Channel and beyond at the age of 30. His irreproachable state of mind, his very complete game, his efficiency would still deserve more than the miserable five dots he got in the last Ballon d’Or ranking, he who wasn’t even on the list of candidates in 2017, 2018, 2021, 22nd with 4 points in 2019.
5 – Jordan Veretout – Marseille
His presence in the France group for the World Cup is just a just reward, albeit late (29 years), for an irreproachable career that has allowed him to discover, and above all to win in the Premier League (Aston Villa), in Serie A (Fiorentina and AS Roma), after making his debut at Nantes, tempered himself at Saint-Etienne.
A fundamental man of OM de Tudor since the beginning of the season, Veretout never disappoints his coaches, even the most demanding ones like Mourinho at Roma who had made him one of his managers in a complete and rather defensive game register that he managed to offensively transcending being involved in many goals, proof that he too would benefit from being a little more empowered, if not valued?
6 – Emiliano Martinez – Aston Villa
The Albiceleste owes him the qualification for the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. And not only. The 30-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper who has only been with second-tier clubs since leaving Arsenal in 2012 (Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolverhampton, Getafe, Reading) was only called up to the national team in 2021 just before a Copa America which He also made his mark by stopping three shots on target in the fateful semi-final series against Colombia.
Establishing himself in the Premier League for two and a half seasons, from the height of his almost double meter (1’96), he changed his stature, but without yet being considered on par with the best. It’s still…
7 – Giovanni Di Lorenzo – Naples
The Napoli captain is almost unknown to those who are not interested
not close to football. Absent from the last two World Cups, Di Lorenzo (29) was however the right side of the 2020 European champion Squadra Azzurra.
But in the absence of capital performances of Napoli at European level, the regularity of the former Empoli is not obvious. 2023 can be the year of consecration with a scudetto that comes to the Neapolitans, 32 years after the last one, and a remarkable run in the Champions League before an affordable round of 16 against Eintracht Frankfurt.
8 – Adrien Rabiot – Juventus Turin
His conflicted exit from PSG in 2019, for refusing to extend his contract, as well as his exclusion from the French squad for two years (2018-2020), for refusing to join Deschamps’ reserve list, have brutally cut a trajectory that should have taken him to the top very quickly.
If not, Rabiot (27) has called Juventus, in a declining club, back through the window to France at their best time. His performances during the World Cup have only returned him to where he should always be: among the best midfielders in the world.
9 – Yassine Bounou – Sevilla FC
Seldom has the spotlight been as deserved as that of the Montreal, Canada native. By integrating world football’s elite in Qatar, Morocco have finally capitalized on a Sevilla FC goalkeeper who was suffering from a clear lack of recognition. Blocked for a long time by Oblak and Courtois at Atlético, forced to return to the Spanish P2 to play, he has only been a full-fledged regular for two years with Sevilla FC.
Despite XXL performances in the Champions League and the title of best goalkeeper in La Liga in 2022, he had to wait 31 years and a phenomenal World Cup to finally be judged equal to the greatest. Better late than never.
10 – Seko Fofana – Goal
His arrival at Manchester City at the age of 18 had opened the door to glory for him. But without being able to establish himself, it forced him to take secondary roads towards Fulham, Bastia or Udinese.
That’s where RC Lens came looking for him to manage his return to L1, taking advantage of the Ivorian international’s lack of notoriety for a €10m transfer that would almost make you smile against the €40m and €30m spent. from PSG to afford Paredes and Gueye, or the 25 M€ spent by OM for Strootman at the same time! In a “block to block” game log, Fofana still offers many more guarantees with the possibility, at 27, of still overcoming a few more levels.
All the better for the Blood and Gold. and also: Sofiane BOUFAL (Angers), Jordan HENDERSON (Liverpool), Ilkay GUNDOGAN (Manchester City), Leon GORETZKA (Bayern Munich), Rafa SILVA (Benfica), Daichi KAMADA (Eintracht Frankfurt), Wissan BEN YEDDER (Monaco), Steven BERGHUIS (Ajax Amsterdam), Teddy SAVANIER (Montpellier), Sergej MILINKOVIC-SAVIC (Lazio Rome), Moussa DIABY (Bayer Leverkusen), Granit XHAKA (Arsenal), Romain PERRAUD (Southampton), Alejandro REMIRO (Real Sociedad)