Football scouting blog
When we talk about the best wingers in the world, fans and pundits alike are quick to bring up the skilful and pacy players who produce moments of magic on the pitch. The likes of Bale, Robben, Di Maria, Neymar etc are always in the discussion however there those few players who also produce quality in the wide areas and also deserve credit for their work. As, Paris Saint-Germain winger, Angel Di Maria states:
“Some wingers may be happy with dribbling past a few players but it’s important to remember you’re in the team to make chances for your team-mates. If you can make space for the forwards or play a pass for them to put them one-on-one with the goalkeeper, that’s when you’ve really done your job. Fast wingers can beat defenders. The best wingers make goalscoring chances.”
In the modern game, wingers are expected to do so much more than in previous decades. Wingers nowadays are no longer just there to stay wide near the touchline, support the fullback in defensive duties and play cross after cross into the strikers. This is now a minimum requirement for any winger as they are now expected to score goals, play in the channels between opposition defences and also be versatile enough to drift from one wing to another. However, the main role of the winger is still to create as many goal scoring chances for his team mates as he can. Below are some of the world’s most underrated right wingers who do all that is mentioned above but don’t get the rave reviews they deserve.
Eduardo “Toto” Salvio, RW/LW – 25 years old (Born July 13, 1990)
The first is, Eduardo “Toto” Salvio, who has been a revelation in SL Benfica and could be player to look out in the next few seasons. In Portugal, his name is instantly recognised and feared however in world football there is never any mention of him. At twenty five years old, he has only been capped for his national team only five times; and in those he has only made cameo appearances. Last season for SL Benfica, he managed to end the campaign with ten assists and nine goals and a couple seasons previously he managed a somewhat similar record of nine assists and ten goals. The 2013/14 season was the only blip of his three seasons in Portugal so far and it was due to a knee injury that he is also struggling with now. If he can recover from his injury and continue his form it won’t be long till he is snapped up by one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Kevin Volland, RW/LW/CF – 23 years old (Born July 30, 1992)
In the modern game, wingers are now also expected to be inside forwards and the tenacious Kevin Volland ticks all the boxes. He prefers to play the center forward role but when he does play out wide he is very effective. He is often overlooked because he is not as skilful or fast like a traditional winger and plays more like a second striker. This however is not good enough reason to why his contribution to 1899 Hoffenheim is often downplayed. In his four season in the Bundesliga, he has averaged 8 goals and 8 assists a season which is an impressive return for a such a young player.
Dušan Tadić, RW/LW – 26 years old (Born November 20, 1988)
With, Saints constantly under the spotlight, its strange that Dušan Tadić is still overlooked. As a winger he ticks all the boxes, a winger who enjoys creating chances more than scoring. Selfless and a team player who has one of the best crosses in the whole premier league, however rarely does he get the plaudits. He is an old school winger and loves to stay wide and that might be a blessing and a curse. Fans nowadays like to see their wingers come in and score goals which he might need to add into his game if he ever wants to elevate his reputation in world football. Last season, he managed to finish the season for Southampton F.C. with seven assists and four goals but this was bad season for him as a winger because he was struggling with lack of winter break and persistent grown injury problems. As he states:
“I think maybe when I have some pain like last year I should maybe stop for maybe seven or 10 days and then I would feel again better, but I didn’t stop and my problem was bigger and bigger. Then for a couple of months I have problem, but, okay, now I feel good and this is most important.”
He is currently averaging three chances created per game, a record only bettered by Santi Cazorla, Dimitri Payet and Mesut Özil in the league who are all currently contenders for players of the season so far.
Antonio Candreva, RW/LW/AM – 28 years old (Born 28 February 1987)
He is arguably one of Italy’s best players and has managed to score three goals in his last four games for the national team. As a winger, he resembles that of Juan Mata under Louis Van Gaal but he is more of a goal threat. He doesn’t possess incredible pace or amazing skills but he is very intelligent. And, he does understand how to maximise goal scoring opportunities but at the same time, also create chances for his team-mates. Last season, for Lazio he managed to finish the season with ten goals and nine assists but has been struggling to replicate that form this term. At such a late stage in his career its difficult to see whether Antonio Candreva will ever be bought by one of Europe’s elite club. For such a talented player, to only have a short loan stint at Juventus as his only time at an elite club is not fair reflection on his ability.
Other notable mentions: Luciano Narsingh, Nicolas Gaitan, Diego Perotti, , Riyad Mahrez