A football fans’ poll has revealed which star player is most likely to go missing when it comes to the big matches.
Ordinarily, the world’s best footballers can turn on their form at the drop of a hat and become the match-winner of any big game.
Sometimes, however, even the greatest have trouble digging into the reserves and their talent to perform in tournaments, cup finals and league title battles. Which current star is the most likely to go missing when it matters most though?
Fear not, the answer is right here for you.
With over two-fifths of the entire votes cast, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is by far and away the most likely player to become a ghost on the field of play in big matches.
If there’s one criticism of the playmaker – aside from his occasional laziness – it’s that he regularly goes missing when the chips are down for club and country. In 27 matches against the Gunners’ fellow Premier League title challengers – that is, until Chelsea decided to sew it up with many games left to go – Arsenal have won just five of those since Ozil moved to the Emirates in the summer of 2013.
In those 27 clashes, the 28-year-old has notched just five goals and seven assists, and has a paltry win ratio of just 19%. And that’s all before getting onto the ex-Real Madrid star not having the stomach for crunch international matches either!
Time for Manchester United fans to look away now, as Paul Pogba pips Gonzalo Higuain into second place in this poll.
The world-record signing has been accused of hiding behind his team-mates in matches this season, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp criticising the France international for not taking games “by the scruff of the neck” to help United dominate the opposition.
It’s a fair criticism when you consider Pogba cost £89m. You’d expect the most expensive player in the world to not go missing when it truly counts, wouldn’t you?
Moving on quickly to Higuain, and the Argentina international has a habit for being, well, profligate in important matches.
The striker was accused of letting down national team captain Lionel Messi by fluffing a great chance to put Argentina 1-0 in their eventual 2016 Copa America final loss to Chile, and that’s not the only gilt-edged opportunity the 29-year-old has spurned.
He choked in front of goal at the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa America, games for former club Napoli that would have tied up wins but eventually became defeats…the list goes on for Higuain, who seems to be the quintessential choke artist of current times.
Speaking of Messi, the La Liga superstar’s chief rival nestles his way into the middle of the poll’s pack. Yep, the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo is only human and can go missing sometimes too.
It’s not often that the 31-year-old doesn’t turn up to big games but, when he does, the likes of Real Madrid and Portugal are lesser sides for it, and it’s no wonder that both his club and national side struggle when the 2016 Ballon d’Or winner has one of his stroppy off-days.
Two world-class strikers round off our poll quite neatly, but neither can really be accused of bottling it when monumental encounters come to the fore. Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski are big performers for both club and country, and the duo are already comfortably on their way to being crowned their respective club’s Player of the Season.
Lewandowski, in particular, has plundered 30 goals in just 33 games this term, while Griezmann was the star of Euro 2016 as his goals fired France all the way to the final. It’s difficult to be too hard on these guys given their goalscoring records recently, isn’t it?