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Five Premier League flops who are starring elsewhere

The self-entitled nature of many Premier League fans often means that players who fail to make the grade on these shores are forevermore branded failures and flops.

Iago Aspas most certainly falls into the category following a hugely disappointing spell at Liverpool, but the forward has shown since returning to Spain that he is a brilliantly talented footballer and one who currently leads La Liga for both goals and assists.

The 33-year-old has established himself as arguably the greatest player in the history of boyhood club Celta Vigo, his struggles on Merseyside seeming an awfully long time ago.

Following the forward’s brilliant start to the 2020/21 campaign we’ve decided to look at some other Premier League ‘flops’ currently proving their worth on the continent:

Iago Aspas

We’ll start with the man of the hour and Iago Aspas, a player for who supporters unfamiliar with Spanish football will have warped perceptions of his ability from a torrid time at Liverpool.

Aspas signed for the Reds in a £7m deal ahead of the 2013/14 season after impressing at Celta Vigo, though found himself behind a formidable forward duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and making just five goalless starts for the club.

Somewhat strangely, the forward is defined by many on these shores for one poorly-taken corner during Liverpool’s costly defeat to Chelsea that all but ended their title hopes that season, but judging Aspas on that one, insignificant moment is an injustice to a player amongst Spain’s very best.

Aspas was loaned to Sevilla and endured an underwhelming spell before returning to Celta on a permanent basis, a side in which club and player fit like a glove with their hometown hero excelling in recent seasons.

No Spanish player has scored more goals or provided more assists over the past five seasons than Aspas, winning the Zarra trophy for most La Liga goals by a domestic player in three consecutive campaigns between 2017 and 2019.

Aspas is the club’s all-time record goalscorer and perhaps only Messi shoulders more responsibility for their side in Spanish football, Celta’s veteran forward a whirlwind of competitive spirit and creative quality.

Nicknamed the ‘Messi of Moana’, it is time Aspas – a player who so often makes something out of nothing – is appreciated for his achievements post-Premier League.

Jerome Boateng

It can be easy to overlook Jerome Boateng’s single season stay in the Premier League, given the abundance of success that has followed the defender since an underwhelming spell at Manchester City.

Boateng moved to the Etihad in 2010 from Hamburg but made just 16 league appearances, before returning to the Bundesliga to sign for Bayern Munich the following summer.

Since then the centre-back has enjoyed a career of huge success with the German giants, establishing himself as a key figure for club and country and winning almost every major honour available.

Boateng has won a staggering eight Bundesliga titles and two Champions League trophies amongst his collection of honours, in addition to winning the World Cup with Germany in 2014.

Last season the experienced star helped Bayern to a historic treble-winning season under Hansi Flick, securing the club’s sixth Champions League title in record-breaking style, becoming the first side in history to win every single fixture on their way to lifting the trophy.

The 32-year-old is out-of-contract at Bayern at the end of the season and may call time on his glittering career in Bavaria, though will be a shrewd signing for any club looking for experience and quality at centre-back.

Memphis Depay

Manchester United secured the signing of the promising Memphis Depay in 2015, the young winger having finished as the Eredivisie’s leading scorer to inspire PSV Eindhoven to the title.

Depay was signed by Louis van Gaal who had high hopes for his compatriot, though the youngster struggled with the step-up in quality and scored just two Premier League goals during his debut campaign.

The arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager did little to boost his prospects and he was sold to Lyon after just 18 months with the Red Devils, where he has since restored his reputation in some style.

Depay has scored an impressive 51 goals in just 118 league appearances for the French outfit, thriving after being deployed in a central role and emerging as the Netherlands’ key figure with 21 goals in 59 caps for the Oranje.

The 26-year-old’s fluid movement provides Lyon with a unique dimension in attack and he currently leads France’s top tier for expected assists and key passes, whilst his 12 goal involvements are bettered by just three players across the division.

Barcelona are understood to be interested in a player who will be available on a free transfer in just a matter of months, the forward shaping as a bargain buy for the Spanish giants.

Florian Thauvin

Florian Thauvin signed for Newcastle United regarded as one of French football’s brightest prospects six years ago, though his most notable contribution was arguably arriving at St James’ Park in a tuxedo pre-match.

The winger’s talents were wasted under the mismanagement of Steve McClaren and he returned to former side Marseille on loan just six months after arriving into the Premier League.

That loan was extended for a further season before a permanent return to The Stade Velodrome, where Thauvin has since shone as one of the best creative talents in Ligue 1.

Thauvin scored 53 league goals across three seasons between the 2016/17 and 2018/19 campaigns, earning inclusion in the France squad for their victorious 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.

The highlight of that period was a sensational 2017/18 season in which he scored 26 goals in all competitions and provided a further 18 assists, before an ankle ligament injury and curtailed campaign restricted him to just two Ligue 1 appearances last season.

Now fit and firing, the 27-year-old has provided 12 goal involvements in just 13 starts this season and – like the aforementioned Depay – will be on the radar of Europe’s best with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Luis Alberto

Luis Alberto arrived at Liverpool in the same transfer window as Iago Aspas and endured a similar fate to his compatriot, failing to make any form of impression over just nine Premier League appearances.

The Spanish midfielder’s slight frame seemed ill-suited to the demands of English football and following an underwhelming period he was sent on loan, enjoying spells at Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna before joining Lazio on a permanent basis.

The move to Merseyside perhaps came too soon for a youngster who has since matured into a fine creative talent, forming part of a Lazio side that has enjoyed steady progress in recent seasons and returned to the Champions League after more than a decade away in 2020/21.

Alberto’s second season at Lazio saw him called up to the Spanish national side after scoring 11 goals and providing a league-leading 14 assists, whilst he was amongst Europe’s leading creators again last term as the capital club emerged as surprise title contenders.

Still just 28-years-old, the midfielder remains a key cog in a Lazio side pursuing honours this season.

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