There are a number of incredibly talented players in the Premier League, but some of them get a bit more shine than others. Here are 11 guys that fly a little bit more under the radar, but still deserve recognition for their talents.
Adrian - Goalkeeper - West Ham
Adrian was a huge part of one of West Ham’s best ever seasons last year. The towering Spanish goalkeeper boasted the second best save percentage in the league (76.1), coming in just behind Petr Cech. Not bad company. With him in goal, West Ham suffered their least number of losses in a season with eight, and he helped the Hammers all the way to the 2016 FA Cup Final.
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Jonny Evans - Defender - West Bromwich Albion
*Patiently waits for you to stop laughing* Jonny Evans spent years as a Manchester United player, filling in wherever he was needed, and generally performing consistently throughout the years. He was never a world beater, but that was ok. He did exactly what was expected of him as a squad player. Evans joined West Brom last season and immediately made the Baggies a better team. His calm presence, versatility and leadership made him the ideal player to help keep them in the Premier League, and he was rightly named the supporters’ Player of the Year. He’ll probably never win a Ballon d’Or, but he definitely deserves a mention here.
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Virgil van Dijk - Defender - Southampton
Virgil van Dijk joined Southampton from Celtic last season for £13m, and settled right into his new digs at Southampton. One of the Premier League’s best defenders in his first year, the towering Dutchman just put pen to paper on a new six-year contract. Southampton’s recently hired manager Claude Puel will be depending on him to carry this form into this season, especially if Jose Fonte is lured away from the St. Mary’s Stadium.
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Ashley Williams - Defender - Everton
John Stones left Everton for a club record fee, but the Toffees immediately went out and signed Swansea’s stalwart center-back as a replacement for a quarter of the price. Williams has been one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders for some years now, but he tends to get overlooked due to Swansea City’s relatively low profile.
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Christian Fuchs - Defender - Leicester City
No Fuchs given. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can talk about Leicester’s quietly brilliant left back. One of their best-performing players last season, Fuchs was a key part of Leicester’s fantastic counter-attacking style, on both sides of the ball. A solid defender, averaging over three tackles, interceptions and clearances per game, Fuchs was also dangerous going forward, chipping in with four assists on the year.
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Moussa Dembele - Midfielder - Tottenham
Dele Alli won PFA Young Player of the Year, Harry Kane came in third in the Player of the Year running, and Eric Dier also won plaudits for his performances in a Tottenham shirt, but Moussa Dembele largely flew under the radar last season. This is a travesty. One of the best two-way players in the Premier League, the Belgian has the versatility to play across the midfield, an incredible engine, excellent technical ability, plus he loves to embarrass defenders. He ticks every box, really.
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Emre Can - Midfielder - Liverpool
Emre Can is a decent defender. He’s an excellent midfielder, and it was great to see Jurgen Klopp use him in that role more regularly last season. Can is physically imposing, but he really shines with the ball at his feet, directing traffic from the heart of midfield. At just 22 years of age, the German international still has plenty of development ahead of him, but Can earns his place on this list for his ability and willingness to step in wherever needed and still do the job required. Show the boy some love!
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Danny Drinkwater - Midfielder - Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy rightfully took most of the plaudits last season for Leicester, but it was Danny Drinkwater’s partnership in the middle of the pitch with the French Energizer Bunny that helped drive the Foxes forward to their first ever Premier League title. Drinkwater’s incessant running, work on both sides of the ball and pinpoint passing apparently wasn’t good enough to earn him a spot in England’s Euro 2016 team, but it’s all love from us on this side.
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Dusan Tadic - Midfielder - Southampton
Dusan Tadic only started 27 out of Southampton’s 38 matches, but the 27-year-old Serbian scored eight goals and added 13 assists as he helped the Saints to a sixth-place finish last season. A tricky, versatile player capable of playing on either wing, or behind the striker, Sadio Mane’s departure to Liverpool should see him take on an even bigger role at the Saint Mary’s this year.
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Jermain Defoe - Striker - Sunderland
Please direct your side-eyes elsewhere. Jermain Defoe left the Premier League for MLS , but didn’t find it to his liking, quickly returning to England, but not before he grabbed 11 goals in 16 games for Toronto FC. He arrived back on English shores but struggled for a season to get back in goalscoring form. He eventually redicovered his touch, netting 15 times in the league for Sunderland, and helping the Black Cats avoid relegation last season. There’s no point in pretending Defoe’s a world-class striker at this point in time, but the man just gets it done.
Getty ImagesLynne Cameron
Olivier Giroud - Striker - Arsenal
Olivier Giroud may take more criticism than any player in the Premier League, simply for the fact that he’s very good player, but he’s just not a great player. It’s not his fault, he just is what he is. He’s a consistent performer, excellent in build-up play, and he works his socks off for the team. Olivier Giroud will grab around 20 goals a season, and he’ll be really pretty doing it. That’s what you get out of him.