These days it seems as if there are seven clubs who can challenge for a place in Europe every year in the Premier League, even if they might not be good enough to win the league title when all’s said and done: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur. All seven of these teams feature the league’s best and brightest on their squads, and when those players get to strut their stuff, the results are often electrifying. That said, there are plenty of very capable players who play for unheralded Premier League clubs, and whose performances could eventually justify a move to one of those bigger Premier League clubs, or a major club outside of England. With this list, we’ll be counting down the 10 most valuable players who don’t play for any of the seven above teams.
Many of these players were brought on their country’s plane to Brazil for the World Cup this past summer, although a couple (Christian Benteke and Jay Rodriguez) were injured and didn’t get the chance to show off their skills to the entire world. Others wouldn’t even be on this list if it weren’t for a transfer to a bigger club not going ahead as planned, and others find themselves here because their club was trying to make up for losing many of their big-name players to other teams. Whatever happens, these players are proving that not all of the talent in the Premier League lies within its bigger clubs, and several of these 10 men could be coveted by those very clubs depending on their performances over the course of this season. Here are the 10 footballers in the Premier League who fall under that category, ranked by market value according to Transfermarkt.com and converted to American dollars.
10. Moussa Sissoko – Newcastle United – Market Value: $15.5 million
A favourite of Didier Deschamps with the French national team, Moussa Sissoko is a central midfielder who’s both versatile and adept at dribbling and making strong through balls. The 25-year-old currently plies his trade with Newcastle United after joining the club last year following a very long spell with Toulouse in his native France, and he’s been a consistent part of the Magpies’ squad despite the team’s occasionally poor performances so far this season. With a market value of $15.5 million, Sissoko also has a World Cup goal under his belt, having scored his first (and so far only) international goal in a 5-2 victory against Switzerland at the tournament in Brazil.
9. Asmir Begovic – Stoke City – Market Value: $17 million
This Edmonton-raised Bosnian international goalkeeper is the undisputed number one keeper at the Britannia Stadium, and it’s not hard to see why. He played for Bosnia-Herzegovina during their debut World Cup finals campaign in Brazil this past summer, which unfortunately saw them fail to progress past the group stage despite some expectations to the contrary. He’s not gotten off to a great start with Stoke either, who sit 12th in the Premier League table after 10 matches, including four losses. That said, the keeper with a market value of about $17 million has been linked lately with a switch to Real Madrid, as the club searches for an eventual long-term replacement for Iker Casillas.
8. Dusan Tadic – Southampton – Market Value: $17 million
Following the loss of many of their best players to bigger clubs (we’re looking at you specifically, Liverpool) as well as the loss of manager Mauricio Pochettino to Southampton, the Saints needed to wise up and find suitable replacements for them as soon as possible. They replaced Pochettino in the form of former Feyenoord manager Ronald Koeman, who brought on Dusan Tadic – who played at the time for fellow Eredivisie club FC Twente – as his first signing as Southampton manager. The Serb, rated at a market value of about $17 million, has netted once so far for the Saints in a 8-0 drubbing of Sunderland, and racked up seven assists in the club’s hot start this season.
7. Jay Rodriguez – Southampton – Market Value: $17.6 million
A ruptured ACL that took him out of the game for six months also took Jay Rodriguez out of contention for a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad for England this past summer – a squad he might have made had he been healthy. There’s a good reason for that, too: the native of Burnley has been playing extremely well as of late for Southampton, netting 17 goals last season and is not too far off from a return from injury this season. His market value currently sits at about $17.6 million, and he’s been linked lately with a reunion with former manager Mauricio Pochettino at a price tag of $32 million – a testament to his current form and talent level.
6. Victor Wanyama – Southampton – Market Value: $19.7 million
He’s made history for his homeland of Kenya by being the first footballer from his country to play in the Premier League, and Victor Wanyama has so far justified his place in one of the best and most competitive leagues in Europe. Following a two-season stint at Celtic in Scotland, Wanyama signed with Southampton in 2013, and has since racked up a market value of approximately $19.7 million. He hasn’t started every game so far this season, but when he gets his opportunities, he makes the most of them: he’s scored three times so far, against Swansea, Sunderland and Hull.
5. Alex Song – West Ham United – Market Value: $19.7 million
Having so far failed to fully break into the starting XI at Barcelona, Alex Song has been sent on loan for the year to West Ham United. With a market value around $19.7 million, he’s certainly Sam Allardyce’s most financially valuable player, but the Cameroon international has been putting up performances that have not always been consistent. The Hammers are currently sitting fifth in the Premier League table, so Song will have to step up his game if they are to beat the odds and stay there. That said, even if West Ham are going to try making Song’s move to Boleyn Ground permanent, they are apparently going to possibly have Liverpool and Manchester City as competition for him.
4. Ricardo Alvarez – Sunderland – Market Value: $20.5 million
A deadline day pickup for the Black Cats this season – and a pretty impressive one at that – Ricardo Alvarez will no doubt be given a chance to be one of Sunderland’s most important players by the end of the season. That is, if he can stay healthy: Alvarez is currently out with a knee injury for at least the next several weeks, and the club he’s currently being loaned to from Internazionale will need him, as they’re currently in the relegation zone. The Argentine is rated with a market value of about $20.5 million, and was on the squad for his country at the 2014 World Cup this past summer.
3. Christian Benteke – Aston Villa – Market Value: $21 million
Despite not having been able to show off his skills at the 2014 World Cup that saw his native Belgium reach the quarterfinals without him, there’s no denying that Christian Benteke is still a fantastic striker. The 23-year-old signed with Aston Villa in 2012, and he’s become arguably their go-to man in the box. With a market value of about $21 million, the Belgian international is also making the money to justify his production with Villa over the last couple years. He’s off to a bad start so far, though: he hasn’t scored in four appearances after returning from injury, and recently got sent off against Tottenham Hotspur for putting his hand to Ryan Mason’s face.
2. Wilfried Bony – Swansea City – Market Value: $24 million
His career got into full swing first at Sparta Praha in the Czech Republic and later with Vitesse in the Netherlands, but his best exploits so far in his career have come with Garry Monk’s side at Swansea City in Wales. Wilfried Bony is the club’s joint all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, and he’s got four goals and an assist in his first 10 appearances for Swansea this season. His market value currently stands at $24 million, and Bony has established himself as a reliable hitman for the Ivorian national team, scoring twice for them at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this past summer.
1. Morgan Schneiderlin – Southampton – Market Value: $28 million
Following four seasons in either the Championship or League One with Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin’s quality as a midfielder has improved so much that not only is he one of the Saints’ most vital players and one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League period, but he also earned himself a place on France’s World Cup squad last summer as an injury call up. However, he seems tipped for an eventual move from St. Mary’s Stadium, especially after he controversially tweeted his disapproval of not being able to move clubs during the summer transfer window. With interest from clubs like Arsenal, the $28 million-rated Frenchman could get his wish soon enough.