With Premier League squads containing a maximum of 25 players, it’s easy for some footballers to drift down the pecking order and fall out of the limelight – or even out of memory altogether.
At one point these players were elevating fans off their seats on a weekly basis, but for one reason or another they fell out of favour and have been cast aside like yesterday’s news, watching on in the shadows as their successors have developed into the next big thing.
Some have been hamstrung by recurring injury issues which have curtailed their respective careers, while others have simply struggled to showcase the consistent performances on the pitch which warrant regular starting berths.
But whether it’s recurring visits to the treatment table, an inability to rediscover a former spark, or simply a question of the manager preferring other options, there are a number of players still on the books at Premier League clubs that have certainly been forgotten.
So who are they? There are plenty of familiar faces on this list and one or two you may have thought moved on to pastures new years ago…
Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea)
The pathway from Monaco to the Premier League is well-trodden, just ask Youri Tielemans, Fabinho, Joao Moutinho or even Bernardo Silva, but that summer exodus in 2017/18, which saw the French Riviera club stripped of its most prized assets, didn’t bring much luck to Chelsea.
Antonio Conte got his hands on Bakayoko, which looked set to transform Chelsea’s midfield into a different beast altogether. Unfortunately, for the Blues, the 25-year-old has been unable to transpose his midfield dominance from French football to the English game and he has since returned to Monaco on loan. However, he’s still got plenty of time to run on his Stamford Bridge contract.
Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth)
The 37-year-old former England international was signed by Eddie Howe off the back of an extraordinary 2016/17 season with Sunderland, in which he scored 15 Premier League goals despite the Black Cats finishing rock bottom and exiting the top-flight.
He hasn’t quite replicated that form at Dean Court, but he’s certainly doing a good job of rolling back the years under ex-international teammate Steven Gerrard in Glasgow. Such has been Defoe’s eye-catching exploits on loan at Rangers that the club have since signed a pre-contract agreement to secure his services on a permanent basis in the summer.
Anthony Knockaert (Brighton)
Having been in and out of the Brighton starting XI last season, Knockaert sought to gain a more permanent fixture in a first team and followed Harry Arter to Craven Cottage in the summer on an initial season-long loan. The Frenchman has been producing the goods for Scott Parker this campaign as the west London club look to make a late push for an automatic promotion spot in the Championship.
Lewis Baker (Chelsea)
Baker has long been the standard bearer of Chelsea’s notorious loan production line, with the 24-year-old enjoying a total of seven separate spells away from Stamford Bridge, ranging from the Netherlands to Germany. His most recent spell was at Fortuna Dusseldorf, but his brief sojourn in the Bundesliga has since been cut short and he remains on the fringes back in west London.
Harry Arter (Bournemouth)
Given the Cherries’ injury plight and their exceptionally perilous standing in the league table, players like Defoe and Arter would certainly have come in handy this campaign. The 30-year-old is currently on loan at Fulham, who sit third in the Championship, and he netted a scintillating long-ranged effort to knock Aston Villa out of the FA Cup earlier this year.
Arter’s combative nature and industry in the middle of the park make him the archetypal player you want on board in a relegation dogfight. Instead, he could be heading up as his parent club go down.
Loris Karius (Liverpool)
After that infamous night in Kyiv, Karius sought refuge in Istanbul, joining Besiktas on a two-year loan deal last season. He hasn’t quite taken to Turkish football like a duck to water with Besiktas fans eventually turning on the German, who could be tempted to seek a new adventure come the end of the season. Given Alisson’s current heroics between the sticks at Anfield, Karius is expected to end his Liverpool connection in the summer and leave the club permanently.
Yannick Bolasie (Everton)
There was a time when Wilfried Zaha wasn’t the main attraction at Selhurst Park. Bolasie was, for a long spell, the Hollywood act in south London, breaking ankles with his dazzling footwork and innate turn of pace, which prompted Everton to fork out a huge sum for his signature in 2016.
Such was the 30-year-old’s unpredictability on the wing and sheer inventiveness, the Toffees thought they were getting their new Andrei Kanchelskis, but he has struggled to overcome a serious knee injury picked up during his first season at the club and now plies his trade on loan at Sporting Lisbon, having also had temporary spells at Aston Villa and Anderlecht.
Patrick Roberts (Man City)
Once tipped for super-stardom, Patrick Roberts’ development has stalled during a series of loan spells since he joined Manchester City from Fulham as a teenager. Now 23, the winger is currently on loan at Middlesbrough after failing to make an impact in the Premier League with Norwich.
Roberts has played for City just three times in five years but remains contracted to the club. Surely it won’t be long until he makes a permanent move away from the Etihad.
Adrien Silva (Leicester City)
Adrien Silva’s Leicester career was arguably doomed to fail from the very beginning. The Portuguese midfielder had to wait six months to join the club because of documents going through late. He never really settled in England and has been on loan at Monaco for the last two seasons. But Silva’s Leicester contract doesn’t expire until the summer of 2021.
It initially looked as if Kenedy might be a useful member of the Chelsea squad, but the Brazilian failed to fulfil his potential during two mixed loan stints at Newcastle United. Despite his Premier League career seemingly coming to an end, Kenedy is still on Chelsea’s books, on loan at Getafe. He may choose to change his status permanently when his deal expires in the summer.
Alexander Sorloth (Crystal Palace)
It must be incredibly frustrating for Crystal Palace fans to watch Alexander Sorloth – the striker who was supposed to solve the team’s goal crisis but scored just once for the Eagles – scoring goal after goal in Turkey. The Norwegian has found the net 19 times in 26 league appearances this term for Trabzonspor.
But you might have forgotten he is still a Palace player, and will be for another year. Trabzonspor have an obligation to buy the 24-year-old at the end of next season when his two-year loan comes to an end.