What separates an overrated, underrated and those who get just amount of praise they deserve? A fine line, hard to determine. The most underrated players in Europe? Those who probably don’t get enough continental recognition, and the appreciation for them usually resides within their club’s fan base, like Joao Pereira, Diego Costa, Mathieu Valbuena, Gokhan Inler, Burak Yilmaz and Borja Valero.
Borja Valero, Fiorentina
One of the reasons Fiorentina are doing so well this season (battling for a place in the Champions League) is their midfield trio of David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani, with Borja Valero breaking the Spanish curse, as some would say, being a rare case of a Spanish midfielder doing very well in the Serie A. He’s not setting new scoring records, but his 9 assists this season, along with the very good understanding he has with his midfield partners make him one of the best midfielders in Italy this season, which isn’t very noticeable unless you watch plenty of La Viola matches.
Burak Yilmaz, Galatasaray
Yilmaz has been changing teams in Turkey for quite some time, including passing through Fener and Besiktas, but only in the last couple of seasons did his scoring touch become noticed – 52 league goals in two seasons with Trabzonspor, and doing just as well for Galatasaray: He has 14 league goals this season, and 7 in the Champions League. Yilmaz isn’t a new kid on the block – he’s 27 already, but despite the usual exaggeration from Turkey regarding their players, he seems like the kind of striker who can succeed in almost any league you’ll put him in.
Gökhan İnler, Napoli
While over the last few years, Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and (before he left for PSG) Ezequiel Lavezzi stole most of the headlines, Inler has been just as vital to Napoli’s rise in Italy and in European prominence. He is more of the industrious type in the middle of the pitch – not one to score too many goals, but he has a cracker of a shot from long range (scoring 5 goals this season) and is fantastic against most sides (not Juventus) with his ability to physically to dominate the middle of the park.
Mathieu Valbuena, Marseille
When you’re capped 19 times for the French national side it usually doesn’t mean you’re underrated, but it seems that Valbuena, also due to his small stature (5’6) will never get his due from those who aren’t Marseille fans, despite producing again and again from the wing or from behind the strikers. It’s his versatility, off the ball movement and passing skills that make him special, although he does score the impressive goal, here and there, with 40 goals in his Marseille career so far.
Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid
Yes, he’s quite the dirty player at times, but it’s the kind of stuff, as a fan of a certain team, you’re willing to accept, while the rest of the world just grabs its head in amazement. Pepe-style, or Luis Suarez for Liverpool. Costa did a great job for Rayo last season (on loan), scoring 10 goals for the smallest of the Madrid clubs. He hasn’t been grabbing the spotlight from Falcao this season with 4 goals and 5 assists in 19 league matches so far, but Costa is much more than just a brute who’s on the pitch to physically terrorize defenders.
Joao Pereira, Valencia
Like Costa, Pereira has a flair for the theatrics and even more so to get into on-field altercations Short fuse, what can you do. But after a fantastic Euro with Portugal, he finally got noticed by someone outside of Portugal, escaping the sinking Sporting ship, signing with Valencia. He’s very attacking in his approach and has fantastic vision and passing, much more closer to an attacking midfielder than what you expect from a wing back. At 29, it’s unlikely he’ll be snapped up by a bigger club, but he probably deserves to.