Top Ten - Player Declines
Milinkovic-Savic was one of the most sought after players in Europe just two years ago after impressing in an improving Lazio side alongside Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto. He was part of the Lazio squad who finished 4th in Serie A and helped The Romans to the Quarter Finals of the Europa League. It was suggested that The Serbian National team would be built around his talents. Rumours persisted linking him with a move away from The Stadio Olympico with Juventus and Manchester Utd reported to be willing to pay in excess of £100m to aquire his talents. Since then however his form has tailed off at an alarming rate and he now finds himself fighting to claim a place in the starting 11 at Lazio and has recently lost his place in The Serbian National Team.
It’s easy to forget that Tottenham paid just £5m to MK Dons to sign Dele Alli back in 2013. Initially it was muted that Alli would spend time in the Youth ranks at White Hart Lane but he soon pushed his way into contention for the first team and within his first season in the Premier League he was one of the best attacking midfielders and had earned himself a place in the England team. Alli continued to be one of Tottenham’s best for the next five years and helped the club to a Champions League Final and also helped England to a World Cup Semi Final, however the last two seasons has seen his stock fall. Alli has struggled with injuries in the last 2 seasons but it has been his poor form that has kept him from being a regular in the Tottenham side and he has not featured for England for nearly 2 years now.
Would it have been different if Alexis Sanchez had agreed personal terms with Man City instead of Man Utd ? Sanchez had produced some world class performances for Arsenal but when it became clear Arsenal were willing to sell him before the end of his contract it looked inevitable that he would link up with Pep Guardiola once again in Manchester but City refused to pay his hefty wages. Instead he moved to Old Trafford in a swap deal with Henrikh Mikhytarian on reported wages of £500k a week. Reports have suggested Sanchez told his agent to anull the deal after one training session at Old Trafford. He never seemed happy at the club and never produced the form he did at Arsenal. He moved on loan to Inter before making that permanent but once again has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the worlds best.
David de Gea
De Gea had a really shaky start at Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to the club as a teenager from Atletico Madrid but as he became accustomed to The Physical nature of the Premier League he established himself as the best goalkeeper in the world for a number of seasons and winning the Man Utd player of the year four times. De Gea was constantly linked with a move to Real Madrid but the move never happened and he signed a new improved contract at Old Trafford making him one of the best players in the world. Since that contract was signed his form has really dropped off and he has made a number of errors leading to goals as Man Utd have stuggled to return to former glories. He remains No1 at the club but now has a huge fight on his hands to keep Dean Henderson at bay and his position as Spain’s No1 is also far from certain
Umtiti enjoyed the season of his life in 2018 having been a key cog in the Barcelona side that completed a League and Cup Double in Spain before becoming a World Cup Winner with France in Russia. This led to a 5 year contract extension at The Nou Camp and all looked rosy, however since that time Umtiti has been plauged by Knee Injuries and has managed just 18 Appearances for Barcelona in that period and has look like a shadow of the player he was. He was touted as the best centre back in the world just 2 years ago and now it looks like Umtiti will have to leave Barcelona to try and rediscover some kind of form.
Roll back to the summer of 2018 and Jordan Pickford was a National Hero having been a part of the England side that made the semi finals of the world cup and was the hero of a first world cup penalty shoot out victory over Colombia. Pickford was firmly established as England’s No1 and it looked like he would stay there for the next decade however since he returned from Russia his form for both club and country has really dropped. There has been plenty of clamour for him to be replaced at both Everton and England. Confidence seems to be waining in him from both Carlo Ancelotti and Gareth Southgate with a number of errors in recent times not helping his cause.
Isco was a young superstar at Malaga and it was no surprise when he got a dream move to Real Madrid and his talents were obvious as he helped Real Madrid win a Quartet of Champions League Trophies. He was a key part of the Spain set up for a number of years but his fortunes took a turn for the worse when Zinedine Zidane left Madrid after the 2018 season. Isco found it hard to break into the team under both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari and he was linked with a move away. Since Zidane has returned to The Bernabeu Isco has been more involved but it appears his time out of the team has really affected his confidence and he is no longer guaranteed a starting place in Madrid and has lost his place in The National Team since Luis Enrique took charge
Liverpool got a bargain when they paid just £8.5m to sign Philippe Coutinho and he became the man that Jurgen Klopp built his new look Liverpool team around. One of the most consistent performers in The Premier League for a number of years Coutinho got his dream move to Barcelona in 2017 for a reported £140m. Whilst Liverpool have flourished since he left the club the Brazilian has really struggled in Spain. There have been glimpses of his talent but often asked to play out of position and obviously second fiddle to Lionel Messi it has been a struggle for him. Barcelona have desperately tried to offload him and did so to Bayern Munich on loan and he did see a slight revival whilst helping Bayern to a League, Cup and Champions League treble in 2020 including scoring against Barcelona in the Quarter Finals. Now back at the Nou Camp he will hope to get back to the form that earned his move back in 2017.
Mesut Ozil has always divided opinion among the Arsenal fans, many see the talent that he clearly has yet some focus on his suggested lack of commitment and even now whilst out in the cold at the club he continues to divide opinions. He was a key part of Arsene Wenger’s team in the Frenchmans final years at the club and was known as the “Assist King” in The Premier League consistently topping that table but since Wenger left the club Ozil has really struggled and neither Unai Emery or Mikel Arteta appear to trust the talented German. He has been completely frozen out at The Emirates in the past 12 months and despite numerous attempts to sell him his massive wages, reported to be £350k per week have been a stumbling block. He looks destined to sit out this season and run his contract down.
Once the most expensive footballer in the world when he signed for Real Madrid in an £80m deal from Tottenham Gareth Bale has never felt the love of the Madrid Fans despite being a key part of the 4 Champions League wins during his time at the club including scoring in 2 of those wins. There has been moments where he has excelled but his injury record has really hampered him and many Madrid fans have questioned the Welshman’s commitement to the club. He has further aliented himself from the fans bu his constant swipes at them further antagonising them when he displayed a banner saying “Golf, Wales, Madrid” last year. On his day he is unplayable but his time in Madrid has ended on a sour note and Bale will be hoping to ignite his career back at Spurs under Jose Mourinho.