The money that circulates around soccer’s top clubs makes the game highly competitive. So much so that these teams sometimes bring in stars for which they have no room. In many ways the top clubs have started to treat the transfer market like fantasy football, picking up star players for their names without thinking about what kind of consequence they may have on the system. These transfers destroy players careers and clubs, all while pissing off Hambino. Yes some of these moves are forgivable since some teams are looking for depth to get them through a long domestic and European campaign. Plus I don’t think Chelsea cares what Hambino, a lowly Swansea fan, thinks. However, I reckon you could create a title contending team out of these club misfits, even though they struggle to find time at their clubs. These are my best 11 that struggle to get off the bench.
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid/Spain) – Keeper
The Spanish goal keeper used to be a staple for both club and country. That is until Portuguese boss, Jose Mourinho, did the unthinkable. He benched his captain. Mourinho’s fall out with his star keeper wasn’t an isolated incidence, and was one of the reasons Jose left the Bernabeu. However, since Mourinho’s departure, Casillas has struggled to regain his starting position at Los Blancos. His age may have something to do with Ancelloti’s reluctance to start the Spaniard. Time may prove me wrong, and Iker could regain a consistent starting roll but until then he’s my keeper.
Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal/Belguim) – Center Back
Only two players in and my team has two club captains. Vermaelen started the season out of the starting lineup as he battled with injury. In his absence the defensive pair of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscienly has led the Gunners to a start that sees them on top of the table. Wenger also seems to favor fellow Frenchman Monreal over his captain. While Vermaelen seems to be healthy, he has struggled to find time at the Emirates. However, Vermaelen seems content to battle it out for his spot at the North London club and has yet to ask for a transfer.
David Luiz (Chelsea/Brazil) – Center Back
Luiz is an interesting character. If you watch his highlight film it is amazing to think he would struggle to get time at any club. His free kicks and technical ability on the ball makes Luiz a threat anywhere on the pitch. However, he has struggled to get time in Chelsea blue behind the more dependable pairing of Cahill and Terry. The Benitez experiment of playing him as a holding midfielder also seems to have been abandoned by Mourinho. This has prompted transfer rumors from two of the world’s biggest names, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. While I can see it’s possible for Luiz to trade in Stamford Bridge for Camp Nou, something more concrete will have to come up before I start believing it. If all goes wrong he can always audition for a live action portrayal of Side Show Bob.
Jolean Lescott (Manchester City/England) – Center Back
It wasn’t long ago that Lescot was a member of a formidable back line at the Etihad. In fact the efforts of himself and Vincent Kompany were a huge part of their title run two years ago. As the World Cup approaches Jolean must be dying to get into City’s starting 11 in order to prove that he still has it. However, Lescott is 31 and his international days maybe completely over. It is interesting to see if he does make his way into Pellegrini’s side but with the talent at the Etihad it seems unlikely.
Isco (Real Madrid/Spain) – Midfield
Isco is one of the most sought after young players in the world and his future looks bright. Los Blancos were blown away by his display in the Under-21’s World Cup and the Spaniard could be essential to an aging Spanish side. However, Isco has three big problems, Ronaldo, Di Maria, and Bale. The Bernabeu is home to three of the greatest wingers on the planet and Isco has struggled to get time amongst them. In a young players developmental stage this can be terribly damaging. My hope is that Isco finds a way to play even if it is with another crest on his chest.
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United/Japan) – Midfield
Kagawa may be the most talented player that Japan has ever created. His vision, pace and technical ability made him a super star at the Bundesliga side Dortmund. However, his trip to Manchester hasn’t gone as planned. Despite United’s lack of creativity in the middle of the pitch, Kagawa has rarely found himself in the starting 11. While he has occasionally been seen as a substitute, his usual spot in Moyes’s plans is on the bench. This has prompted a “Free Kagawa” campaign from supporters of his former club. I would not be surprised to see the Japanese international in Dortmund Yellow again soon, especially if Marco Reus comes to the Premier League.
Juan Mata (Chelsea/Spain) – Midfield
Mata has clawed his way up through the ranks to finally get a spot on the best international team in the world. In that time he became Chelsea’s two time player of the year, and seemed to be crucial piece to Roman’s plan at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately for the Spainard, Mourinho does not seem him in the same capacity. Mata’s lack of defensive prowess has left him out his accustomed spot. However, when Mata comes on he seems to provide a spark to an occasionally stagnant Chelsea side. There are rumors that Mata may be on his way to join PSG and this maybe a good move for the former Valencia man. However, I would still like him to improve his game and regain a spot in the Chelsea starting 11.
Wilfred Zaha (Manchester United/England/Ivory Coast) – Midfield
Zaha came into the transfer firing line for many top clubs while he led Crystal Palace out of the Championship into the Premier League. His importance to his former team can be seen in the way the London based team has struggled so far this year. Leaving that aside, Zaha looked to be a main piece in developing a younger, more attractive United. However, the change of management has seen Zaha isolated to the bench. With the rise of fellow young midfielder Adnan Januzaj, Zaha’s chances at Old Trafford seem to be dwindling by the day. While we have not seen him play at a high level yet, his quality is still undeniable.
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City/Bosnia-Hertzegovina) – Forward
Dzeko must have thought with the transfer of Tevez that he would find himself a staple at the Etihad. However, with the acquisition of Spanish international Negredo, Dzeko again finds himself down on the pecking order. The Bosnian is well known for his aerial ability and his knack for scoring goals. However, he seems to lack the technical ability that would make him a regular in Pellegrini’s 11. There are whispers that Dzeko is quite distraught about his current surroundings, and he is looking for a way out of the Etihad. If this is true, he would make quite a difference to one of the many teams in this striker hungry market.
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham/England) – Forward
Defoe is a goal scoring machine. His diagonal runs terrify defenders around the world. However the Englishman has fallen out of grace for both club and country. Despite being a prototypical English number nine, Hodgson seems to prefer Sturridge for the roll. At least this selection is warranted since Sturridge seems to be unable to stop scoring goals while in a Liverpool shirt. Meanwhile, at Tottenham, Defoe sits on the bench while Spurs have scored an abysmal 9 goals as a team this year. Three Premier League strikers have at least equaled that number this year. While most managers would see this as a sign that maybe it is time for a change, AVB has decided to stick it out with Spanish front man Soldado. I would not be surprised to see Defoe with a different crest on his chest soon, especially with the World Cup approaching.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Manchester United/Mexico)
While the Mexican little pea has seen an increase in playing time under Moyes, he has yet to receive the starting minutes he believes he deserves. After being left out of the Mexican World Cup Play-Off against New Zealand, Hernandez has to feel a little down on himself. However he is seen at Old Trafford as THE super sub. He comes on in key situations when the Red Devils need a goal, and more times than not he delivers. Hernandez is currently on the wish list of many top clubs and was the inspiration for this team of misfits. While his future in the Mexican side is most likely not threatened, it would still be great to see Chicharito as a regular in a Premier League side.