The love and hate relationship between fans and players is one that’s lasted forever. Below are the top 11 contentious players to date.
Perhaps no one is more divisive than German playmaker Mesut Özil. Since arriving in London to play for the Gunners, he’s been a constant lightning rod amongst fans for his inconsistent performances. But at £350,000 a week it’s hard to understand why he often goes missing, especially in big games.
Some critics say the $263 million record-setting transfer fee set by Neymar to Paris Saint Germain 2017 was justified. Others will passionately disagree until Neymar delivers trophies for the club, including getting the team to its first Champions League final. And even then, the same critics might say it was all the work of teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe. Oh, and there’s also Neymar’s incessant diving.
Caught in the hairs of an extortion incident back in 2015, Karim Benzema has since soured his reputation for the national side. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup victory for France. However, he’s been a prolific goalscorer at Real Madrid.
The French midfielder Paul Pogba is one of the game’s best talents, but his attitude sometimes gets him in trouble — especially with his Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho. However, he is capable of demonstrating a real team spirit, as he did in helping lead France to a 2018 World Cup trophy.
The French striker Antoine Griezmann considers himself to be on par with Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. And while’s he won the World Cup and a Europa League — no small feats — he’s yet to win La Liga and Champions League.
The 21-year old French forward Ousmane Dembele signed with Barcelona from Dortmund at the beginning of the 2017 season for a transfer fee of £96.8m. While it was an astonishing snag for Dortmund who paid a mere €15 million transfer fee for Dembele the year before, Barcelona is still waiting for its investment to pay off.
After a stellar outing at the World Cup 2014, the Colombian attacking midfielder James Rodriguez is still yet to fulfill his potential. While signed to Real Madrid, he rarely started. But he has shown flashes of genius on loan at Bayern Munich, so it’s now or never for the 27-year old.
Oliver Giroud scored over 100 goals for the Gunners before he transferred to Chelsea in 2018 where’s continued to score for every three games played. Despite strong statistics, most football fans still aren’t exactly sold on the French striker’s capabilities. He started at World Cup 2018 for instance, and never scored a goal.
The golden boy David Beckham took football to another level when he built his own brand on top of the beautiful game. Frustrated with the player’s antics at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson famously kicked a boot at Becks cutting him just above the eye. His former coach once said that he thought marrying Victoria Beckham got in the way of Becks professional career.
No one doubts Lionel Messi’s outrageous talent. With a trove of five Ballon d’Ors and thirty plus Barcelona trophies, it’s hard to argue that he’s not the best footballer of all-time. But without having won the World Cup, the little genius will continue to be compared as inferior to Maradona.
The 20-year-old phenom is undoubtedly the future of American soccer. But will his superb play at club level pay off for the national team? The American Outlaws may be demanding too much of him too soon. With such high expectations, perhaps he needs to be given more time to grow.