The 8 most disappointing Premier League players of 2018/19
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Any number of Fulham players could have been named in this list, but Sessegnon arrived in the Premier League with a huge amount of hype. Tottenham were reported suitors last summer (and may well be again this), while an England call-up looked a near certainty.
But Sessegnon has struggled in the top flight. He enjoyed a reasonable start to the season under Slavisa Jokanovic but was often left out of the side under Claudio Ranieri – and was no perfect fit for the Italian’s tactics.
That clearly eroded Sessegnon’s confidence, and there’s also the lingering question of what his true position will be: left-back, left-wing-back or left-winger? Two goals and six assists in this Fulham team is no disgrace, but we yearned for so much more.
Rachid Ghezzal (Leicester)
Leicester’s hunt for their Riyad Mahrez replacement goes on. Demarai Gray hasn’t kicked on as we hoped since moving from Birmingham City, Ahmed Musa was a wide forward failure and now Ghezzal will be lucky to last beyond the summer. Just because you buy an Algerian winger from French football doesn’t mean you’re replacing Mahrez’s majesty, whatever the comparisons.
We expected more. Ghezzal had played in the Champions League for both Monaco and Lyon before arriving in the East Midlands, but from day one he’s been too easy to push off the ball and too wasteful when he’s had the chance to cross and dribble. For £12m, Leicester supporters wanted better than almost total anonymity.
Jordan Pickford (Everton)
In summer 2018, Pickford had the best summer of his life. At the start of 2016/17 he wasn’t even Sunderland’s No.1 goalkeeper, but less than two years later was starting for his country and becoming the first England goalkeeper to make saves in a winning World Cup penalty shootout. Maybe the ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ effect was inevitable.
But it’s still a little worrying for England and Everton to see just how many mistakes Pickford has made this season, having come on leaps and bounds in the previous 18 months. He’s also been punished for them; and therein lies the life of a goalkeeper.
Pickford can clearly reclaim his goodwill and remains England’s firm No.1, but Jack Butland was touted to be the future of England goalkeeping and he’s just coming to the end of a difficult season in the Championship’s bottom half.
Fred (Manchester United)
Manchester United have earned plenty of flak for their pursuit of Alexis Sanchez just to foil the ambitions of Manchester City, but in the case of Fred you could see their point. Paul Pogba had been desperate for a midfield holder, Nemanja Matic wasn’t getting any younger and City had expressed a keen interest in replacing Fernandinho with another Brazilian from Shakhtar Donetsk.
It’s not that Fred has been wretched in Manchester; he’s been entirely ordinary. No spark, no surging runs forward, no spectacular long-range goals, no great passing range and no protection for a wobbly central defence. For £53m, United signed a player who on current evidence looks no better than academy products Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope that a summer off – he’s not currently part of Brazil’s Copa America plans – will produce a rested and rehabilitated midfielder in 2019/20.
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