Football Features

The most underrated players of the 2023/24 Premier League season

By Harry Edwards

Published: 10:05, 21 May 2024 | Updated: 12:17, 24 May 2024

The 2023/24 Premier League campaign is over and all the awards have been handed out.

Phil Foden has been named Player of the Season, while Cole Palmer is the Young Player of the Season. Erling Haaland has taken the Golden Boot, David Raya the Golden Glove and Ollie Watkins the Playmaker Award.

Those five players, alongside many others, have received their plaudits across the Premier League season and deservedly so. But what about those who haven’t?

There are a number of players who have played very well this season but have largely gone under the radar — or still get undeserved criticism — for their performances. So we’re here to give them their flowers.


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Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford is England’s No.1, but there are some who doubt if he should be. Sometimes there has been a gulf between Pickford’s performances for England and those for Everton, with the 30-year-old looking better in the shirt of the Three Lions.

But not this season. Everton had the fourth-best defence in the Premier League in 2023/24, conceding just 51 goals. Only the top three let in fewer than the Toffees, with Pickford ranking second behind Raya for clean sheets.

Pickford ranked seventh for saves and fifth for goals prevented (among players with a minimum of 10 games played), which is the difference between Expected Goals on Target Conceded and goals actually conceded. With an xGOTC of 53.47, Pickford conceded 51 goals, preventing 2.47 goals. He also boasted a save percentage of 69.64% in the Premier League.

Douglas Luiz

Douglas Luiz is rightly rated, but this season it feels like his performances have been overshadowed by some of his Aston Villa teammates. Watkins has got a lot of praise for his goals and assists in helping Villa qualify for the Champions League, while Emiliano Martinez is heralded in goal. Even John McGinn and Youri Tielemans get more praise from the outside than Luiz among his contemporaries.

Among Villa players this season, Luiz ranks fourth for big chances created, second for tackles, third for interceptions, first for final third passes completed, first for through balls completed and is first among outfield players for long passes completed. He is also third for goals, fourth for shots on targets and second for big chances scored, though we must note that being on penalty duty will certainly help that.

He was also one of four Aston Villa outfield players to break 3,000 minutes in the Premier League in 2023/24, missing just three games all through suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Pascal Gross

Pascal Gross started his Brighton career as an attacking midfielder and has spent most of his time at the club playing in advanced positions. But in 2022/23 he became more of a utility man, filling in gaps for Brighton, even at right-back.

The positional change, or at least style change, that stuck last season was a deeper midfield role. It coincided with Roberto De Zerbi taking charge and the German has thrived, playing himself into a first senior international call up at the age of 32.

This season, Gross provided 10 assists in the Premier League, the third-highest in the division with only Watkins (13) and Cole Palmer (11) providing more. He was also one of just three players to create 100 chances in the Premier League with his 103 second only to Bruno Fernandes’ 114. And while there was a drop to 61 chances created from open play, that doesn’t mean he was relying on set pieces. Eight of Gross’ 10 assists in the Premier League were from open play, and he had an open-play xA of 5.98.

James Tarkowski

A second Everton man on this list, it’s hard to not include another Toffees defender given how well they performed. Let’s not forget, they would have finished higher up the table were they not deducted eight points. And their struggles this season were definitely more about their attack than their backline.

Jarrad Branthwaite gets a lot of the plaudits but his development into one of the best young English centre-backs is because he had someone like James Tarkowski alongside him. Tarkowski played every league game for Everton this season, with only Pickford ahead of him on minutes. The defender missed a grand total of one minute, subbed off in the dying stages of Everton’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United in September.

Among Everton players, Tarkowski ranked top for interceptions, possessions won in the defensive third, clearances, headed clearances and aerial duels won. In fact, only Joachim Andersen made more clearances than Tarkowski’s 186 in the Premier League as a whole. The Englishman also attempted and completed more passes than any other Everton player, had more touches and was only second to Pickford in long passes attempted and completed.


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Leandro Trossard

Arsenal went agonisingly close to the Premier League for the second season in a row, this time losing out by two points on the final day. But the Gunners have been fantastic this season and were unfortunate to go up against a machine like Manchester City.

A lot of Arsenal’s players have received a lot of well-deserved praise. But Leandro Trossard is a player sometimes forgotten when it comes to this praise. The Belgian has been a reliable player for Arsenal this season, chipping in with goals at crucial points, when other attacking players haven’t been on form. Five of Trossard’s 12 Premier League goals this season were the opener and four were winning goals. He also helped them rescue a point against Chelsea in October with a late equaliser, as well as putting any potential Liverpool comeback to bed in Arsenal’s 3-1 win at the start of February.

Trossard scored more goals from open play than any other Arsenal player in the Premier League with 11, and had a better goalscoring average per 90 minutes (0.66) than any other Gunners star. The Belgian also ranked third for shots on target per 90 minutes (1.2) among Arsenal players with at least 1,000 minutes played and had the highest non-penalty xG per 90 (0.43) and open-play xG per 90 (0.42).

Ezri Konsa

Back to Aston Villa, it feels as though Ezri Konsa is an often unheralded member of Unai Emery’s defence. The 26-year-old has rarely been the Villa defender in the conversation to be an England centre-back, despite being the better one. But this season he’s made himself tough to ignore, playing out of position.

As Villa have struggled with injuries, Konsa has been pushed to right-back for large portions of the season and he’s thrived. A more defensive-minded right-back as you’d expect, Konsa ranks third among his Villa peers for tackles, third for clearances and third for aerial duels won.

The Englishman comes out on top for interceptions, with winning the ball back a big part of his game. He also ranks third for possessions won in the middle and defensive thirds for Villa. But Konsa can pass too, completing more passes than any other Villa player, having the best pass accuracy and having more touches. He’s been key to the way Villa play.

Moises Caicedo

Chelsea have been a strange side this season, eventually pulling themselves together to secure a top-six finish and a return to Europe. A lot has been made about Chelsea’s money spent in the summer and the general cost of their squad, with a lot of big signings struggling.

In particular, the midfield was targeted as it boasted two players signed for over £100m. Moises Caicedo was one of those players, but when he hasn’t been alongside Enzo Fernandes, the Ecuadorian has been great for Chelsea.

Caicedo made 91 tackles in the Premier League this season, more than any other Chelsea player. He also ranked second among the Blues for interceptions and possessions won in the middle third — he was fourth for both possessions won in the attacking third and defensive third. Caicedo ranked third for passes attempted and completed, had a pass accuracy of 90.8%, as well as being fourth for final third passes attempted and conceded. It took him a little while, but Caicedo looks at home in Chelsea’s midfield.

Alexis Mac Allister

Under-rated can sometimes be synonymous with under-appreciated, and that may be the case for Alexis Mac Allister at Liverpool this season. The Argentine has been key to Jurgen Klopp in his final season at Anfield, wherever he has been played.

He made more tackles than any other Liverpool player, finishing just one shy of the 100 mark, while also ranking second for interceptions (35), top for possession won in the middle third (99) and third for both possessions won in the attacking third (23) and defensive third (73). Mac Allister was also second in Liverpool for passes attempted and completed, final third passes attempted and completed and touches.

To make it all even more impressive, he’s been playing out of position.

“The first one that comes to my mind is probably Mac Allister at Liverpool,” former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson told Squawka when asked for his pick as the most under-rated player of the Premier League.

“People have realised how good he is, but what I mean is he’s been playing out of position, with no fuss, but still keeping up really good performances and he scored some really big, important goals as well.

“It’s not easy for some players to play out of position for so long and do it with a smile on their face. So I think people forget that he’s playing out of position, and he’d much rather play further up. So I’d probably pick someone like that, that’s done a job for the team and kind of sacrifices himself a little bit.”

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