True, not all football players are treated with dignity. Unless your name is Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, chances are your best efforts will go unnoticed.
For many players, it isn’t a big deal because they are able to draw attention to their exploits. Players in this category include Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski, and Karim Benzema.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a group of players who rarely receive the recognition they deserve despite outstanding performances for club and country. These are players who have put up commendable performances in recent months, but their efforts have largely gone unnoticed.
On that note, here are five of the game’s most underappreciated players right now:
Number 5: Lucas Hernandez
Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez is without a doubt one of the game’s most underappreciated players right now.
For the last few years, the Frenchman has been a huge presence at the heart of the defense for both the Bavarians and the French national team.
Hernandez has had an illustrious career, winning the FIFA World Cup, the Champions League, the Bundesliga, and numerous other trophies. He recently added the UEFA Nations League to his collection, having played a significant role in France’s victory in the competition this summer.
The 25-year-old has started the season on a high note, putting up commendable performances in his 12 appearances for Bayern Munich so far. Nonetheless, he doesn’t appear to receive much attention for his exploits.
Number 4: Andreas Christensen
Since the start of the season, the Chelsea center-back has been a huge force to be reckoned with. Andreas Christensen appears to be a reborn man under Thomas Tuchel’s tutelage. He has established himself as one of the Blues’ most dependable options at the heart of their defense.
So far this season, the Dane has made 13 appearances for the Premier League giants in a variety of competitions, scoring one goal. Even among Chelsea fans, he remains an unpopular figure. It remains to be seen whether this will change anytime soon.
Number 3: Juan Cuadrado
Juan Cuadrado, a defender for Juventus, is also one of the game’s most underappreciated players. The Colombian is one of the pioneers spearheading the Bianconeri’s revival charge this season, putting on spectacular performances.
Cuadrado’s versatility has been extremely beneficial to the Serie A giants. In addition to his natural position on the right side of the defense, the 33-year-old has been used as a winger upfront and a right-wing midfielder.
So far this season, the former Chelsea defender has made 13 appearances for the Bianconeri, scoring two goals. That includes his goal for Juventus against Fiorentina last weekend, which inspired the Old Lady to a 1-0 victory and secured all three points.
Number 2: Domenico Berardi
Domenico Berardi remains Sassuolo’s difference-maker up front. However, it appears that no one is aware of his outstanding performances for the Serie A club.
The attacker has made a strong start to his current season, scoring five goals and assisting three times in ten appearances across all competitions. Last season, the 27-year-old scored 17 goals and assisted on eight others.
This season, Berardi has stepped up in big games on several occasions. He recently scored against Inter Milan and Atalanta, as well as assisting against Juventus and AS Roma.
Unfortunately, the attacker rarely receives the credit he deserves for his outstanding performances in front of goals. It remains to be seen whether this will change anytime soon.
Number 1: Christopher Nkunku
Last weekend, RB Leipzig defeated Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and Christopher Nkunku was the star of the show. The attacking midfielder scored one goal and assisted on another to lead his team to a 2-1 victory.
For the 23-year-old, it was just another day at work. Over the last few weeks, the Frenchman has been unstoppable, producing decisive performances in both domestic and continental competitions.
Nkunku has 11 goals and seven assists in 17 appearances for RB Leipzig this season across all competitions. Given the rate at which he’s scoring and setting up goals, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this up until the end of the season.