The Premier League is packed full of talent and earning recognition can be a challenge when competing against some of the world’s best.
A number of names across England’s top division continue to go under the radar in comparison to their peers, with this list of players perhaps under-appreciated outside their own club circles.
Here are five Premier League fan favourites who remain underrated across the rest of the division.
Five underrated Premier League fan favourites:
Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa)
Douglas Luiz came close to leaving Aston Villla before last season, but those at the club were right to reject approaches from Arsenal for the midfielder. Luiz was named as Aston Villa’s Players’ Player of the Season after starring during the club’s run to Europa Conference League qualification, scoring six times and providing a further six goals.
Luiz has started the new campaign with three goals in seven appearances for Unai Emery’s side, a return which has seen the 25-year-old become the first Villa player since Dwight Yorke in 1996 to score in five consecutive Premier League home games.
Douglas Luiz. pic.twitter.com/1LTD4w53kl
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 26, 2023
All-action in his defensive work and with increasing contributions in the final third, Luiz has been a driving force in Villa’s improvement under Unai Emery. Villa have assembled an impressive midfield with Luiz, John McGinn, Boubacar Kamara, Youri Tielemans and academy graduate Jacob Ramsey costing the club a combined £17.7m.
It is an engine room that will be the foundation of the club’s challenge for European success this season.
Pascal Gross (Brighton)
Pascal Gross has been called underrated for so long that, by definition, the Brighton midfielder is now very much rated. That said, Gross rarely comes up in conversation of the Premier League’s most effective midfielders despite data that suggests such status.
Last season the German ranked fifth in the Premier League for expected assists, behind only Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold. He also ranked in the division’s leading names for progressive passes (5th), crosses (6th), touches (9th) and passes into the penalty area (7th).
Gross’ creativity produced eight Premier League assists and came alongside the best goalscoring campaign of his Brighton career (9).
A dummy that nearly sent the camera off track 🎥 pic.twitter.com/xLBFj9OKD9
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 19, 2023
All of this, while filling in in whatever role is required. From attacking midfield to a defensive role, out wide or even at full-back, Gross rarely drops below the standard expected wherever stationed on the pitch. The difficulty in that can not be understated.
Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace)
Joachim Andersen has formed one of the best defensive partnerships outside the elite clubs alongside Marc Guehi at Crystal Palace, a combination which has ensured the Eagles have remained clear of Premier League trouble.
The Denmark international has made 79 appearances for Palace since signing for the club from Lyon, via an impressive loan spell at Fulham, for a fee of €17.5m in 2021. Since then the centre-back has grown into a fan favourite at Selhurst Park, combining defensive presence with an expansive passing range from the back.
Andersen’s raking diagonal passes from the backline have become a feature of Palace’s play, with the Danish defender often launching Roy Hodgson’s side forward with booming switches across the pitch.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) September 30, 2023
His distribution comes alongside determined defensive work, with Andersen among the Premier League leaders for aerials won (6th), clearances (2nd) and passes into the final third (9th) across the season’s opening weeks. Question marks over his mobility have perhaps prevented big bids from teams higher up the division, but Andersen would not look out of place in a Champions League team.
Bernd Leno (Fulham)
Marco Silva has lauded Bernd Leno as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, with the arrival of the German from Arsenal one of the biggest bargains of last season.
Leno was forced out at Arsenal after losing his place to Aaron Ramsdale, but the Gunners’ loss has been Fulham’s gain with the 31-year-old one of the best shot-stoppers in the division last season.
Fulham recorded the highest expected goals against (xGA) figure in the Premier League last season, but secured a top-half finish in large part thanks to Leno’s heroics. Leno ranked behind only Liverpool’s Alisson for goals prevented, averaging four saves per 90 minutes for the Cottagers.
This season Leno has kept three clean sheets in six matches — a league-leading total — and boasts a save percentage of 81.6%. A recall to the Germany squad for next summer’s home European Championship is a realistic target.
James Ward-Prowse (West Ham)
James Ward-Prowse, free-kick expert, or how the common narrative goes.
Yes, Ward-Prowse is an elite set-piece taker, arguably in fact the best in world football right now. He is, however, much more than that as West Ham are discovering having signed the midfielder from relegated Southampton during the summer.
Ward-Prowse has been a superb signing for the Irons and has impressed across the opening weeks of the new campaign, injecting energy and quality into an engine room depleted following Declan Rice’s departure for Arsenal.
The 28-year-old has two goals and six assists from eight games for West Ham, form which should put him in the conversation for an England place ahead of October’s internationals.