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THE TAKE

Roberto Firmino, Son Heung-min and when ‘underrated’ players become ‘rated’

This week's 'The Take' looks at two of the Premier League's most impressive players and dives into the murky waters of collective opinion

Allow me to get philosophical for a moment.

How many times does a player have to be correctly labelled as ‘underrated’ before they are suitably rated?

Exhibit A

Getty - Contributor
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Exhibit A

This past weekend, two of the Premier League’s most impressive performers showed their class once again with Son Heung-min and Roberto Firmino starring in key games.

Harry Kane took his tally to 28 goals from as many games but Spurs’ South Korean international was just as influential in Everton’s demise at Wembley.

Son scored for the fifth Premier League game in a row and took his tally in all competitions to 11 for the season.

That puts him ahead of Leroy Sane, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez — players who are most definitely rated.

Proven

PA:Press Association
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Proven

And it’s not just a hot streak either.

In 2016/17 he scored 21 goals in all competitions, meaning he’s scored 32 goals in 77 games since the start of last season.

Serious numbers for a winger who has only become a certain starter in the last few weeks.

Exhibit B

AFP or licensors
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Exhibit B

As for Firmino, Liverpool’s (false) No9 put on an exhibition against a team many believe to be the best in the world.

The Brazilian’s one-two of muscling John Stones off the ball before a delicate finish was a perfect summation of his attributes.

Firmino literally leads from the front when it comes to Jurgen Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ and his link-up play is world-class.

He’s never going to be the most lethal finisher in the league but a return of 17 goals in 31 games this season shows his got enough quality in front of goal to be considered a formidable threat.

More than just his teeth are shining brightly

Reuters
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More than just his teeth are shining brightly

Two superb individual performances but nothing new, just what we’ve comes to expect from a pair of quality players.

Now, cue the tweets…

And so and so on…

The waters of collective opinion are murky and treacherous but it seems both Firmino and Son won the public’s approval a while ago.

And both players have been singled out by pundits in the ‘mainstream media’, including those on Match of the Day and Sky Sports.

So if average Joe rates them, and those on the telebox rate them, just who are they underrated by?

Surely, they are now suitably rated?

Nearly all the doubters have been silenced

Getty Images - Getty
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Nearly all the doubters have been silenced

All those whose tweets I have embedded share my view that both are fantastic players and posted their message with good intentions.

But after a while, the description ‘underrated’ becomes something of a caveat.

It’s a way of praising of them while acknowledging there is another factor at work — “I think they’re good… compared to what others think of them.”

Listening out for those who don’t rate him… silence

Getty Images - Getty
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Listening out for those who don’t rate him… silence

Firmino and Son have both earned the right to praised without a caveat.

They deserve praise simply because they are wonderful players and once this is a widely recognised opinion they can reap the rewards — increased market value, improved contracts, etc.

Perhaps they haven’t been the subject of enough analytical segments, column inches, or transfer rumours for some to believe they are appropriately rated but at some point the distinction should be made.

Keep the praise for Firmino and Son coming, but hold the caveat, they’re better than that and we all know it.

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