The 5 Most Underrated Footballers of the 2010s

The 2010s was a decade to remember for football fans. From Inter Milan winning the treble to Spain dominating from 2010 to 2012 and Liverpool winning the Champions League, the decade had some historic moments that people will talk about for years to come.

But perhaps the highlight of the 2010s was the unprecedented performances of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Never has it happened that two footballers have dominated a sport with legendary performances year after year for over 10 consecutive years.

Players like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric also have had their fair share of praise over the last decade. But we're not here to talk about them. We're here to talk about the unsung heroes, the players who impacted the game massively without getting enough recognition.

So, without further ado, here are the 5 most underrated footballers of the 2010s.

Note: For this list, we've chosen the football years from 2010-2011 to 2018-2019 and included the country league, Champions League, and international tournaments. Stats courtesy of Whoscored.

5. Pedro

You were probably expecting Pedro Rodriguez to make the list.

The Spaniard featured regularly for Barcelona from 2008-2015 and Chelsea from 2015-2020. Though he was overshadowed by his teammates, including the likes of Messi, David Villa, Eden Hazard, and Diego Costa, he was one of the most consistent performers of the decade.

The beauty in Pedro's game is that he makes the other attackers look good. Capable of playing anywhere in the front, Pedro matches his creativity and playmaking skills with work rate and tenacity that few players can match. Though he never reached the height of his peers and rivals, Pedro was a generational talent the likes of which we don't see often!

Quick Stats for Pedro Rodriguez

Appearances: 373
Goals: 92
Assists: 58

4. Roberto Firmino

I know what you're thinking - Firmino is a popular footballer.

He is, but that wasn't the case for most of the previous decade. Before he was destroying defenses with his trickery and pinpoint through balls, Firmino was doing all that in the German team Hoffenheim. From a very young age, he showed signs of maturity and vision that translated to him winning the Bundesliga Breakthrough Player of the Season.

Since moving to Liverpool, he has helped bring them back to their status of European giants. Though Salah and Mane find themselves regularly on the score sheets, it is Firmino who dictates the attack and creates chances for himself and his colleagues. No wonder Klopp calls him the engine of the team.

Quick Stats for Roberto Firmino

Appearances: 329
Goals: 105
Assists: 64

3. Keylor Navas

Let's get one thing straight - Keylor Navas is criminally underrated.

Navas started the decade defending the goalposts of Levante in the second league of Spanish football. However, he ended the decade with three Champions League titles and the La Liga title to his name at Real Madrid. His speed, agility, reflex, and most importantly, his decision-making makes him one of the best keepers of not just the last decade, but of all time.

The Costa Rican, despite winning the hearts of Madridistas with his consistency, was never given the spotlight he deserved. Since parting ways with Real Madrid, he has found his feet at PSG, still going strong despite being in his mid-30s.

Quick Stats for Keylor Navas

Appearances: 208
Clean Sheets: 82

2. Santi Cazorla

Had it not been for injuries, Santi Cazorla would've been just as good as David Silva.

One of the most gifted players of his era, Cazorla could play anywhere from attacking midfielder and winger to central midfielder and deep-lying playmaker. Already a star at Villarreal, Cazorla signed with Arsenal in 2012 and looked like a refined playmaker who could do no wrong. He was also a mainstay of the Spain teams that conquered the Euros in 2008 and 2012, and only missed the 2010 World Cup due to injury.

And that’s the sad reality of his career. At his peak, Cazorla was one of the best footballers in the world. He made everything happen in the final third and matched his playmaking with a powerful shot and an eye for goal.

Quick Stats for Santi Cazorla

Appearances: 283
Goals: 45
Assists: 66

1. Wesley Sneijder

I mean, who else did you think it would be?

The biggest robbery of the decade was Wesley Sneijder not winning the Ballon d'Or. He was the driving force behind Inter Milan's historic treble and the Netherlands making the finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He accomplished all that in 2010 but didn't even finish top 3 in the best player rankings.

Despite the snub, Sneijder was a fantastic player through much of the past decade. He left Inter for Galatasaray in 2013 and made an immediate impact on the team just like a world-class talent would. He would retire from the game in 2019 after short stints at OGC Nice and Al Gharafa. The football world must have been different had Sneijder gotten the coveted best player of the year awards in 2010.

Quick Stats for Wesley Sneijder

Appearances: 189
Goals: 37
Assist: 44

And that is our list! Let us know who you think are the most underrated players of the 2010s.