10 Premier League rejects who are having great times elsewhere

10. Iago Aspas

The Spanish wizard was signed by Liverpool in the summer of 2013 after impressing for Celta Vigo, supposedly to offer the Reds "another dimension to the attacking play", as Brendan Rodgers put it.

That never happened – Aspas was discarded by September and left Anfield after making just five appearances in the starting lineup, having rarely been given the chance to prove himself.

Liverpool fans must have been surprised to see him earning his international debut and scoring a magnificent goal for Spain against England at Wembley. He’s in top form for Celta as well, with 14 goals last season and seven in just 12 games this term.

9. Andrej Kramaric

Leicester were praised for unearthing the talents of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante, who were both purchased at ridiculously low prices, but the Foxes never knew what to do with a much more expensive signing.

Croatian striker Kramaric was heavily linked to Tottenham and Chelsea before signing for £7.5m from Rijeka in January 2015, but he never settled under Nigel Pearson and didn't suit Claudio Ranieri either.

The Foxes thought they were lucky to get the investment back when selling Kramaric to Hoffenheim this summer after an initial loan, but the forward is proving himself in the Bundesliga. He became an integral part of the team that is yet to lose this season, and definitely shouldn’t be considered a flop.

8. Suso

Suso was persuaded to sign for Liverpool by Rafa Benitez as a 16-year-old prodigy, and the Spanish midfielder was promoted to the first-team squad by Brendan Rodgers in 2012.

A very promising debut against Manchester United proved his talent, but he was soon benched again and totally discarded after a loan spell at Almeria. Eventually, he left for Milan.

2016 has been a superb year for Suso. First he excelled on loan at Genoa as a right winger, then even improved at San Siro in the same position, drawing comparisons to Arjen Robben. A brace in the derby against Inter was followed by a goal and a couple of assists at Empoli on Saturday, and the 23-year-old has become a key player for Vincenzo Montella’s resurgent team.

7. Serge Gnabry

Arsene Wenger didn't want to release the winger who starred for Germany at the Olympics this summer, but Gnabry was desperate for playing time on a weekly basis.

He arrived at Arsenal aged 16 and made a bright start, but a knee injury ruled him out in 2014/15. Then came a disastrous loan spell at West Brom where he was totally ignored by Tony Pulis – the Welshman didn't think Gnabry was ready for the Premier League.

Without an immediate future at the Emirates, Arsenal sold the young German to Werder Bremen, where he immediately became the Bundesliga strugglers’ most important player with five goals and an assist in 11 matches. The Gunners might yet regret selling him.

Next page: When will Jose learn?

6. Mohamed Salah

Why did Jose Mourinho sign the Egyptian from Basel for £11m in January 2014 if he didn't intend to give him a decent chance? That remains a mystery.

Salah was useful and even scored in the famous 6-0 win over Arsenal, but he found his appearances limited – just three in his first full Premier League season after joining in January 2014 – and by the summer wanted out. He was sent on loan to Fiorentina, ironically as part of the deal for Juan Cuadrado, who was also immediately discarded by Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.

Salah's time in Serie A has been a huge success – he was compared to Roberto Baggio in Florence, before controversially signing for Roma and becoming a big star at the Stadio Olimpico. This season he’s been sensational, scoring eight goals and notching four assists.

5. Oguzhan Ozyakup

"I always thought he could make a career, but at our club he had big competition in front of him and that’s why we let him go," Arsene Wenger reasoned about his sale of the Netherlands-born Turkish midfielder to Besiktas in the summer of 2012.

That might have been reasonable for the youngster who joined the Arsenal academy four years previously and hoped to shine in the Premier League, but the price was low – Besiktas only paid £500,000 for his services.

Ozyakup had since developed into one of the Super Lig’s biggest stars and was crucial when the Black Eagles won the title last season. His trickery and imagination are a joy to watch, and Arsenal could yet bring the 24-year-old back one day.

4. Iago Falque

The Spaniard's Premier League "career" at Tottenham had been bizarre – Andre Villas-Boas gave him his debut on 85 minutes with Spurs leading 1-0 at Everton, but they conceded twice in injury time and lost.

That was the end for Falque, whose career route is even stranger – he spent time at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus’s academies before arriving at White Hart Lane. The club never believed in him, though, and let him go after positive loan spells at Almeria and Rayo Vallecano.

Falque scored 13 goals for Genoa in 2014/15, earning him a move to Roma. Last season was rather disappointing, but he is is back to his best at Torino this term with seven goals in 11 games to his name. At the age of 26, he still has time on his side.

Next: Modeste expectations

3. Nabil Bentaleb

The France-born Algerian midfielder had been a revelation for Tottenham under Tim Sherwood in 2013/14, becoming a regular in the lineup thanks to his quality distribution and tackling.

Bentaleb was considered a top talent but his form suffered early last season, an untimely injury hurt his chances, and he was soon discarded while Spurs played superbly without him.

He needed a new start, and a loan move to Schalke proved to be exactly that. Not only did Bentaleb recover but Tottenham were surprised to discover that he can score as well, with five brilliantly taken goals in all competitions. As his stay in Gelsenkirchen is only temporary for now, Bentaleb might yet be back at White Hart Lane in 2017 – although that’s unlikely.

Bentaleb's stonker at 1:17

2. Anthony Modeste

Blackburn took the French striker on loan from Bordeaux in January 2012, hoping that he would help them to avoid relegation. Modeste – then only 21 – started just three games, didn't find the net and is best remembered for a needless red card at West Brom. Rovers went down.

After useful spells at Bastia and Hoffenheim, Modeste is now flourishing at Cologne and is considered one of the Bundesliga’s top strikers. This season is most certainly his best so far, with 12 goals in 12 games, and he could yet get a call from France coach Didier Deschamps.



FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2016

1. Peter Gulacsi

Goalkeeper is considered one of the most problematic positions at Liverpool. Simon Mignolet and newly signed Loris Karius are yet to fully convince, and the Reds might be curious to know that the man they never rated is having an incredible time in the Bundesliga.

Gulacsi has only conceded 10 goals in 12 matches for newly promoted (but unbeaten) RB Leipzig, who top the table ahead of Bayern Munich. The Hungarian never got a game at Liverpool after joining from MTK Budapest in 2007, later enduring problematic loan spells at Hereford, Tranmere and Hull.

Now, somewhat bizarrely, he is probably better than any of the options Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal.

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