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 become suitably rated?

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Exhibit A

Son Heung-min and Roberto Firmino are two of the Premier League’s most impressive performers. Fact.

Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah are Spurs and Liverpool’s standout performers but the value of their respective sidekicks can not be underestimated.

Son’s brace against Huddersfield took his tally in all competitions to 15 for the season, with ten coming in the Premier League.

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

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Proven

And it’s not just a hot streak either.

In 2016/17 he scored 21 goals in all competitions and with Spurs in with a good chance to progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, he’ll he eyeing a similar total at the end of this season.

Serious numbers for a winger who hasn’t always been a certain starter.

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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 not long back.

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 22 goals in 38 games this season shows his got enough quality in front of goal to be considered a formidable threat.

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More than just his teeth are shining brightly

This form is just what we’ve coms 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?

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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.”

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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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