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James Milner, Song Heung-min and when ‘underrated’ players become ‘rated’

If everyone thinks a player is underrated, they are, by sheer definition, not underrated

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, James Milner and Roberto Firmino are three of the Premier League’s most impressive performers. Fact.

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

Son finished the season with 18 goals in all competitions, with 12 coming in the Premier League.

That puts him ahead of Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane and level with Eden Hazard — three players who are most definitely rated.

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Proven

And it wasn’t a one-off either.

In 2016/17 he scored 21 goals in all competitions and with the threat of military service vanquished, he’ll be targeting a similar tally this season.

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

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Exhibit B

As for Firmino, Liverpool’s (false) No9 has firmly confirmed himself as one of the world’s best forwards.

The Brazilian’s unique style means he offers so much more than just goals — not that he’s shy of those these days, 27 in all competitions last season proves that.

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 he’s 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 season’s darling is James Milner.

Everyone from commentators to pundits to your man on Twitter has sung the praises of Liverpool’s 32-year-old in recent weeks.

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 Firmino, Son and Milner won the public’s approval a while ago.

And these 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 exactly?

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 are great 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, Son and Milner have 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 coming, but hold the caveat, they’re better than that and we all know it.


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