Opinions in football are like strikes at goal: some are dead on, others are well wide of the mark.
By their very nature, there’s rarely any middle ground, it’s one or the other and personal bias can often drive which side of the divide people fall on.
Which bring us to today’s potentially divisive offering.
We’ve picked out five players who for a variety of reasons can be considered overrated. Now, this is not say they are not fundamentally good players, but there is some aspect related to each of the individuals which placed them in this category.
Transfer fees, media focus and fan idolisation are some of the factors considered when equated to what’s produced on the pitch.
After looking at underrated stars, here are five of the most overrated players in football right now.
RAPHAEL VARANE | REAL MADRID & FRANCE
If Raphael Varane ever saw this list, he would likely respond by pointing out his overflowing trophy cabinet.
Fair enough, the Real Madrid and France centre-back has indeed won 16 major trophies, which includes four Champions League successes, two La Liga crowns and of course a World Cup.
He might also point to his seminal work during France’s glorious triumph, which is also fair.
Varane is still overrated, though. Why? The 26-year-old is widely considered in the same tier as Virgil van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly, but he’s not even Real Madrid’s best centre-back.
Yes, Varane is an athletic phenom, blessed with searing pace, height and power, however, he was gifted brawn, not brain.
Varane consistently makes mistakes, both for club and country, with last season littered by mindless errors both with and without the ball.
He lacks the leadership qualities to carry a defence and were it not for Sergio Ramos alongside, his poor reading of the game would be found out more often.
MAURO ICARDI | INTER MILAN
Mauro Icardi could be the last living centre-forward on the planet and no club would touch him.
Obviously this has more to do with his wife/agent blurting out sensitive details about the Inter team on national TV every weekend, but irrespective of all the corrosive noise off the pitch, on it, the reality of Icardi is a far cry from the myth.
The Argentine has in the past been linked with Real Madrid and Juventus, and although his goalscoring record holds firm, aside from his predatory instincts, Icardi is pretty limited.
Modern centre-forwards have been rewired to perform multiple roles. Applauding a striker for just scoring goals is like celebrating a goalkeeper who is a ‘good shot-stopper’ – it’s something so necessary for the position it’s expected.
Yes, Icardi is lethal in front of goal, but his overall contribution and effort is largely really poor. Besides, his record is coated by penalties anyway.
According to Whoscored.com, Icardi has never reached 20 goals in a season from open play with 21 per cent of his total league tally for Inter arriving from the penalty spot.
ROMELU LUKAKU | INTER MILAN & BELGIUM
Romelu Lukaku’s feet are magnetic, only to the effect of repelling the ball away whenever it’s in his field like twin poles.
Even if the ball was made of a heavy metal, he’d still struggle to bring it under control. That might sound harsh, but the Belgian’s career is awash with examples of brutal first and even second touches.
Granted, once he’s firmly in possession, Lukaku can be absolutely savage in front of goal and his record speaks for itself with 113 Premier League strikes at just 26-years old.
But guaranteed goals do not necessarily equate to guaranteed acclaim. Indeed, the striker may have bloated his goal tally, but while at Manchester United the same can be said of his stomach.
His ballooning physique led to a sluggish and slow response on the pitch, so while he’s capable of brilliant moments, Lukaku is equally incredibly clumsy.
Yet despite all these drawbacks, he still cost Inter €80 million this summer.
DELE ALLI | TOTTENHAM & ENGLAND
Over hyping young homegrown players with technical ability is as much apart of the English culture as a cup of tea.
Dele Alli is a prime example. The 23-year-old has the talent to break into the very top tier of attacking midfielders, but to some, he’s already there.
While he is tactically intelligent, postionally flexible and does operate well within Tottenham’s system, it’s almost to Alli’s detriment that he’s good in several positions, as opposed to brilliant in one.
Alli has been deployed deep in midfield, as a No10 and wide in attack as he largely serves the team rather than the other way around.
So far in his career, he’s not been the player to build a side around, rather a component part, albeit a skillful and provoking element.
Again, it must be reiterated to say Alli’s overrated is not to say that he’s not supremely gifted. But considering Mauricio Pochettino described him last year as the world’s best young player, that assessment feels grossly exaggerated.
Ultimately, his career hasn’t kicked on the way it should have, though there is still plenty of time.
JAMES RODRIGUEZ | REAL MADRID & COLOMBIA
James Rodriguez is a peculiar case. To some the Colombian is criminally underrated, to others he’s enormously overrated.
There’s no real neutral ground and there isn’t here either.
The massive transfer fee is tied to the explanation because Rodriguez set Real Madrid back €75m in 2014, becoming then the fourth most expensive player ever.
But the World Cup half a decade ago remains the brightest billboard of his talent.
At Los Blancos, Rodriguez lurched from main maestro to the invisible man. His maddening inconsistency saw him spend most of his 20s on the bench with barely 30 appearances across his last two seasons before moving to Bayern Munich on loan.
There’s a mitigating factor in the death of pure No10s, which did kill his impact as more mobile and athletic playmakers were preferred to his aesthetic skillset.
However, he made just 13 league starts for Bayern last season and the Bundesliga giants passed on their option to buy.
The 28-year-old is back at Madrid and unwanted by Zinedine Zidane, but the most damning statistic for a player so widely acclaimed is that Rodriguez has started 20 or more league games once since leaving Monaco.
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