Five of the best teenage talents in Premier League history

There’s nothing quite like the emergence of a talented teenage star to truly excite football fans, and throughout the history of the Premier League we have seen some precocious talents star for some of the division’s biggest sides.

We’ve decided to look back at some of the very best starlets of the EPL era, here are five of the best teenage talents in Premier League history, data from iSports API.

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Robbie Fowler

With the club’s all-time record goalscorer in Ian Rush coming towards the end of his illustrious career, Liverpool needed a new goalscoring hero and swiftly found one within their very own academy ranks.

There was much hype around Merseyside surrounding a Toxteth-born teenage talent, who would make an immediate impact at the club when handed his opportunity as an 18-year-old, scoring on his debut in a League Cup tie against Fulham before truly announcing himself with a five-goal haul in the second leg two weeks later.

Fowler would emerge as one of the most natural finishers the Premier League has seen, scoring a hat-trick on just his fifth league appearance for the club and finishing his first season as the club’s leading scorer with 18 goals in all competitions, including a then EPL record quickest ever hat-trick against Arsenal.

His second season and last as a teenager before turning 20 in April would see him plunder 25 Premier League goals, whilst he also scored deciding goals in both legs of the League Cup semi-finals as Liverpool lifted the trophy just a week shy of his 20th birthday.

Named as the PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of that season, he would retain the award the following season in his early twenties and establish himself as a Liverpool legend during two spells with the club.

Rio Ferdinand

West Ham have long had an impressive history of producing young talent, and the club’s academy would once again pay dividends with the emergence of several future England international’s either side of the millennium.

One of the first of that batch to make a breakthrough was Rio Ferdinand, who would quickly establish himself as a favourite at Upton Park before moving on to become one of England’s great defenders.

Ferdinand was handed his debut as 17-year-old, before swiftly becoming a fixture in the first-team and developing a burgeoning reputation. The defender would make almost 100 appearances in all competitions for West Ham before his 20th birthday, being named as the club’s Player of the Year as a 19-year-old at the end of the 1997/98 season.

He would later go on to twice break the record for the world’s most expensive defender with moves to Leeds and latterly Manchester United, winning six league titles at Old Trafford and retiring from international duty with 81 caps for England,according to iSports API.

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Michael Owen

Liverpool would not have to wait long for their next boy-wonder to emerge from their academy ranks, with Michael Owen making an instant impact when scoring as a 17-year-old on debut against Wimbledon in the penultimate game of the season in 1997.

The following season he would become a first-team regular, scoring 18 league goals to win a host of accolades including the Premier League’s Golden Boot and Player of the Season award. Still in his teens he would then star in the World Cup with that goal for England against Argentina, before making it back-to-back Golden Boots the following season with another 18 goal haul, as per iSports API.

Owen’s teenage years were arguably his peak years, his electric pace and ruthless finishing making him a difficult proposition for defenders many years his senior.

He would later win a Ballon d’Or in 2001 before joining Real Madrid three years later, though his latter career was decimated by injuries at Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke City as he looked a shadow of his former self.

Wayne Rooney

Few players have ever caused as much excitement as the emergence of a 16-year-old prodigy wearing Everton blue.

There had long been whispers at Goodison Park of a generational talent amongst the club’s academy system, though few could have anticipated the impact Wayne Rooney would make so early in his career.

The boyhood Blue would announce himself to Premier League fans with a stunning late winner to end champions Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run, before becoming England’s youngest ever debutant and goalscorer.

After scoring four times at the 2004 European Championships as an 18-year-old he would become the most expensive teenager in history when moving to Manchester United, scoring a hat-trick on his debut and being crowned PFA Young Player of the Year in his first season.

In 13 seasons at Old Trafford he would win every possible major honour including five league titles and the Champions League, becoming both club and country’s all-time record goalscorer in the process and winning a host of individual accolades.

Only a handful of players have enjoyed careers as successful as Rooney’s, though there is a feeling that he never quite fulfilled his early potential.

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Cesc Fabregas
Arguably a ray of hope as Arsenal’s famed Invincible side began to dismantle, the Spanish midfielder was plucked from the Barcelona academy as he sought a clearer pathway to first-team football.

Fabregas would not have to wait long for his opportunity in North London, making his debut as a 16-year-old in 2003 before becoming a fixture in the first-team following captain Patrick Vieira’s departure for Juventus two years later.

Fabregas would make over 100 appearances for the club before his 20th birthday, helping the club to FA Cup success in 2005 and a Champions League final the following year, establishing himself as one of the best young talents in the Premier League with his creativity and passing range.

Named as the Golden Boy in 2006, he would become the youngest player ever to play and score for the club, later becoming club captain before enjoying trophy-laden spells with Barcelona, Chelsea and the Spanish national side.

A precocious talent following his emergence, he would go onto become of the division’s great midfielders with only Ryan Giggs have registered more than Fabregas’ 111 Premier League assists, as per iSports API football data.

For more information, please visit iSportsapi.com.


The five most wasteful Premier League sides in front of goal this season

The Premier League season is almost a third of the way through already, as festive football rapidly approaches in the coming weeks.

Liverpool and Manchester City unsurprisingly lead the way in the title race, though few expected both Leicester and Sheffield United to currently be occupying European places.

We’ve decided to look back over the opening months of the campaign and analyse some of the Premier League’s best stats, and this feature is dedicated to the misfiring members of English football’s top flight.

We’ll look at those who have spurned the most big chances – a chance where a player should reasonably be expected to score.

Here are the five most wasteful Premier League sides in front of goal this season, data collects from iSports API.

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Manchester United – 16 big chances missed

Manchester United have endured the club’s worst start to a season in 30 years, and their hopes of securing a top four finish seem to be diminishing with each week as the club continue to stutter.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have struggled to score goals, having amassed just 13 in 11 fixtures so far and their wastefulness in front of goal is a key reason for their disappointing results.

Their wretched record from penalties has been well documented, though they have also proved far from efficient with chances in a team that often lacks creativity.

The club have missed 16 big chances already this season, and Solskjaer’s admission that the ‘fine margins’ have cost his side has never looked more apparent.

Everton – 17 big chances missed

Another team performing well below expectations is Everton, who despite a summer of significant investment find themselves languishing near the foot of the division.

Ambitions of pushing towards the top six have all but been extinguished as they sit just one place outside the bottom three, with the club ranking highly for big chances missed.

Marco Silva’s side have averaged just one goal per game in their 11 fixtures so far, spurning 17 big chances in that same period, as per iSports API.

Summer signing Moise Kean is still yet to open his account for the club in nine league appearances whilst Dominic Calvert-Lewin, often accused of not being a natural goalscorer, has been their guiltiest culprit with five big chances missed.

Chelsea – 23 big chances missed

Chelsea‘s young side have received plenty of plaudits this season following their refreshing emergence under Frank Lampard, though their attacking displays have often seen chances go begging.

Lampard’s lads have missed 23 big chances so far this season, the third highest total in the division. Logic says that the more chances created, the more that will be missed, though Lampard will hope his side can be more ruthless as they bid to close the gap to the top two, according to iSports API football data.

Tammy Abraham has shone this season and currently sits second in the race for the Golden Boot, though the 22-year-old has missed eight big opportunities so far – the equal highest amount in the Premier League.

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Liverpool – 24 big chances missed

Slightly ahead of Chelsea are league leaders Liverpool, who have missed 24 big chances during the opening weeks of the new season.

So far, their wastefulness around goal has failed to hamper their prospects, with the club currently possessing a six-point advantage at the top of the division.

Sadio Mane sits level with Tammy Abraham as the player with the most big opportunities missed this season (8), though teammates Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are not far behind the Senegalese star with six and five big chances missed respectively.

Manchester City – 31 big chances missed

The most wasteful side in the Premier League so far has been the defending champions, with Pep Guardiola’s side having missed 31 big chances in their opening 11 fixtures of the season.

The club’s high ranking is due to their relentless ability to create opportunities, however, with Man City currently the highest scoring side in England’s top flight.

Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, both amongst the early contenders for the Golden Boot, are also amongst the leading players for big chances missed having spurned six opportunities apiece, with Gabriel Jesus just one behind.

For more information, please visit iSportsAPI.com.


Five longest winning runs in Champions League history

A competition that pits European football’s elite together to determine the finest side on the continent, the Champions League has long been the pinnacle of success in club football.

The leading sides from respective nations across Europe do battle, so putting together a winning streak in the competition is far from easy. We’ve looked back at some of the most successful sides in Champions League history, who have managed to maintain impressive runs of momentum. All data collects from iSports API.

Borussia Dortmund:8 matches (04/12/1996 – 01/10/1997)

Borussia Dortmund would embark on a memorable run in the mid-nineties, a run of consecutive wins that would see the club crowned champions of Europe for the first time in their history.

Ottmar Hitzfield’s side actually finished second in their group, level on points with Atletico Madrid, though it would be an entertaining 5-3 victory over Steaua Bucharest in the final fixture of the group stage that would begin their winning run.

Dortmund would beat Auxerre home and away at the quarter-final stage, before also achieving the same feat with a pair of 1-0 wins over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the last four.

Facing a formidable Juventus side featuring the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Christian Vieri in the final, the underdogs would secure a sixth successive win to lift the Champions League for the first time with a 3-1 victory in the Olympiastadion in Munich.

Their defence of the crown would begin with consecutive group stage victories over Galatasaray and Sparta Prague the following season, before a Hernan Crespo goal condemned the club to a 1-0 defeat at Parma in October 1997, as per iSports API.

Barcelona:9 matches (18/09/2002 – 18/02/2003)

The only side in this list not to have lifted the famous trophy during their winning streak, Louis van Gaal’s Barcelona side looked like genuine contenders to become European champions for just the second time in their history after winning nine consecutive fixtures in the 2002/03 season.

The Catalonian side would qualify from the first group stage with a perfect record from home and away fixtures against Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow and Club Brugge, before being given a tougher looking test in the then second group stage round.

Drawn against Inter Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United, Barcelona would beat each of their three opponents before a goalless draw at the San Siro halted their winning run at nine matches, according to iSports API.

The draw would be the only points the club dropped over 12 group stage fixtures, though their early form in the competition counted for little as they were eliminated by Juventus at the quarter-final stage.

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Barcelona:9 matches (21/10/2014 – 06/05/2015)

Barcelona would once again put together a nine-match winning streak in the Champions League over a decade later, though this time it would come in a campaign that the club were crowned champions of Europe.

Having lost a thrilling group stage clash 3-2 at Paris Saint-Germain, Luis Enrique’s side would respond with back-to-back victories over Ajax before defeating Apoel Nicosia and PSG in the return fixture to qualify for the knock-out stages as group winners.

Premier League champions Manchester City were defeated home and away in the last-16 to set up a rematch with PSG in the last eight, where the Spanish giants would again win both legs to progress to a semi-final meeting with Bayern Munich.

An inspired Lionel Messi would to the damage as the German side were beaten 3-0 at the Nou Camp in the first leg, before a 3-2 defeat in Munich ended the club’s winning streak, as per iSports API.

It would matter little, however, as Barcelona advanced to a final meeting with Juventus where they would win the Champions League for a fifth time in Berlin, completing a famous continental treble in the process.

Real Madrid:10 matches (23/04/2014 – 18/02/2015)

Real Madrid would finally win their elusive La Decima in 2014, ending a 12-year wait for Europe’s biggest prize which would be the start of their equal-record 10-game winning run.

Their streak would begin in the semi-final stage, as Bayern Munich were beaten both home and away, the second leg a memorable 4-0 victory in Germany as Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo both netted twice.

Those victories set up the first Champions League final meeting between two teams from the same city, as Real headed to Lisbon to face Atletico Madrid. Sergio Ramos’ 93rd minute goal would dramatically send the contest into extra-time, where Real would score a further three goals to beat their shell-shocked city rivals 4-1 and be crowned European champions for the tenth time.

The following season saw the club complete a flawless group stage campaign, including home and away victories over Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side to make it nine consecutive wins, before a tenth was secured with a 2-0 victory at Schalke in the first leg of their last-16 clash.

The Bundesliga side would ultimately end Real’s winning streak by winning a topsy-turvy second leg 4-3 at the Bernabeu, though Madrid would progress before seeing the defence of their crown ended by Juventus in the last four.

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Bayern Munich:10 matches (02/04/2013 – 27/11/2013)

In the 2012/13 edition of the tournament, Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich side would start their impressive winning streak by beating Juventus home and away in the Champions League quarter-finals before repeating the trick in the semi-finals against Real Madrid, thrashing the two European giants by a combined aggregate score of 11-0.

Dortmund would await in the final in the first-ever all-German showpiece at Wembley, where a late Arjen Robben goal secured a fifth European title and complete a continental treble.

The club would continue their winning streak under the guidance Heynckes’ successor Pep Guardiola the following season, winning five successive group stage fixtures to take their tally to 10 before a home defeat to Manchester City in November 2013.

For more information, please click iSports.com.


7 worst Arsene Wenger signings of all time in Arsenal

Arsene Wenger signed a lot of players after taking charge in 1996, but who were the worst Arsene Wenger signings of all time?

There have been some bad signings down the years but when it comes to worst Arsene Wenger signings, there are a few to pick from given how long he was at the club.

They can’t all be winners, but we saw some particularly disastrous buys feature for Arsenal quite regularly during Wenger’s time at the club.

Here are seven of his worst signings, all players' data collects from iSports API.

Igors Stepanovs

If you thought Arsenal signing obscure players from out of nowhere was a modern Wenger-thing, then think again.

It 2000, Arsenal signed a young defender from Latvian side Skonto Riga called Igors Stepanovs who opens up our list of worst Arsene Wenger signings.

The centre back didn’t play right away, but injuries gave him a chance.

He didn’t start too badly, either. Arsenal won four out of his first seven games.

Then they went and lost 6-1 at Old Trafford, and he never quite recovered.

He went on to make just 17 Premier League appearances, most of which came in his first season, before being released in 2004, as per isports API data.

Amaury Bischoff

A more modern example of the “random player out of nowhere” fad at the club. In 2008, the club signed French-born Portuguese youth international, Amaury Bischoff, from Werder Bremen for a nominal fee.

The then 20-year-old was signed despite serious injury problems, making his signing a gamble before he even put on an Arsenal shirt.

He managed four first team appearances in his one and only season with the club before being released in 2009.

Andre Santos

This is a bit harsh on the jolly Brazilian, who at least brought plenty of personality to the Arsenal squad. It was just his footballing ability didn’t quite match it.

Part of the infamous trolley dash of 2011, Santos arrived from Fenerbahce to replace Gael Clichy at left back. A full Brazil international, we thought we were signing a decent wing back.

What we got was a player who was rather unfit, a little slow and incapable of completing a tackle.

He did, at least, score a couple of goals for the club. His first was in a 5-3 win over Chelsea, and his last was in a vital 3-2 win over West Brom.

Still, you wonder how desperate we were for left backs when we signed him.

Francis Jeffers

Francis “fox in the box” Jeffers had everything going against him the moment he arrived.

The then-Everton youngster came to the club due to Wenger’s need for a penalty-box poacher to complement his speedy, creative forwards.

The club paid a handsome fee to sign him so he could convert the numerous chances the team was creating.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t handle the weight of expectation, and suffered a few injuries on top of that.

Jeffers left in 2004 and had a journeyman career before retiring in 2013.

Sebastien Squillaci

Arrived with a decent reputation from Sevilla in 2010, but very rarely looked comfortable in the Premier League.

Squillaci always lacked the physical attributes to succeed in the division, and proved to be highly error prone.

He made 39 appearances for the club before he was let go to Bastia in 2013, according to iSports API.

Mikael Silvestre

Fans awoke the day after deadline day in 2008 to discover that club had signed Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United for under £1m.

The sheer confusion over the deal defined his time at the club. He was cover for left back and centre back, yet fans couldn’t work out why the club had signed someone who couldn’t get into United’s first team.

His most telling contribution was a goal against Tottenham and an excellent one-two with Lionel Messi during a 4-1 thrashing against Barcelona.

Park Chu-Young

To this day, the signing of Park Chu-Young remains a mystery.

The forward’s one and only accomplishment at Arsenal was ensuring they’d be on South Korean TV for a third round League Cup tie against Bolton.

He scored a very nice goal that evening, and fans believed he could a be a solid back-up.

Then, he disappeared. He played seven minutes of Premier League football then vanished for a season. He popped up for a League Cup cameo in 2013, and then disappeared again.

There might be an interesting story about this signing.

As it is, he has to be Wenger’s worst ever buy.

For more information, please click isportsapi.com.


Every goalkeeper to have reached 100 clean sheets in the Premier League

Every single goalkeeper to have kept the ball out of the net in 90 minutes of action a hundred times or more in the history of the Premier League.

The 100 club generally refers to those who have broken a century of goals in the Premier League, a list containing such footballing luminaries as Alan Shearer, Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry. An even harder club to break into, however, is the one featuring goalkeepers and the milestone of reaching 100 clean sheets.

Only 15 feature in that roll call compared to the 22 goalscorers who terrorised their gloved foes over the years, but there was one very recent addition; Manchester United’s 0-0 draw against Liverpool was David De Gea’s 100th game without conceding a goal in the Premier League. He is one of only three active keepers to carry that achievement.

The 15 goalkeepers to have reached 100 clean sheets in the Premier League, according to :

15. David De Gea – 100

The Manchester United shot-stopper is arguably the best in the world in his position and could very easily shoot right up this list before his career ends, if not at least a couple of places before the season finishes. Only six goalies have 100 or more clean sheets with one Premier League club, and De Gea is now one of them. At just 28 years of age, the Spaniard could play on for another decade and a half judging by the longevity of some of the other players on this list.

14. Thomas Sorensen – 107

The retired Danish goalkeeper kept his sheet spotless in 107 games for Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke City during his Premier League career. His 35 clean sheets for the Black Cats is particularly impressive considering how poor that team was while he was there.

13. Jussi Jaaskelainen – 108

A Bolton Wanderers legend, the Finnish shot stopper played in excess of 500 games for the Trotters in all competitions, before spending three seasons at West Ham United. Another two years at Wigan Athletic preceded a very short stint at Indian Super League outfit ATK, before Jaaskelainen retired at the age of 42 in 2018.

12. Shay Given – 113

The Irish international is to Newcastle United what Jaaskelainen was to Bolton — a tremendous pair of hands that could have arguably played at a higher level but stayed loyal to their clubs for many years. However, Given eventually left St. James’ Park in the 2009 winter transfer window, a few months before suffering relegation. The Donegal native went on to play for Manchester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Stoke City, before emulating his blond-haired counterpart by also retiring at the age of 42 last year.

11. Joe Hart – 127

There’s an argument to be made that Hart is the worst goalkeeper on this list, given the incredible players it contains compared to the hapless Englishman. The buzz created by his admittedly impressive displays in the early part of his career for the cities Birmingham and Manchester has subsided greatly following error-strewn spells at Torino, West Ham and Burnley.

And, of course, he’ll always be the guy that got absolutely rinsed by Andrea Pirlo in a penalty shootout.

10. Peter Schmeichel – 128

Widely regard as the greatest goalkeeper the Premier League, and indeed English football, has ever seen, Peter Schmeichel was the personification of a brick wall in front of goal, only much louder and more painful when he collided with opposition players.

The Great Dane would have moved several places up in the list if not for his two season sojourn in Portugal with Sporting CP.

9. Brad Friedel – 132

Enjoying a 20 year senior career spanning four different countries, Friedel is best known for his time between the sticks at Blackburn Rovers in the noughties. The American also played for Liverpool, Aston Villa and Spurs in the Premier League, before retiring at the age of 44 in 2015.

8. Tim Howard – 132

Howard, who coincidentally kept the same amount of Premier League clean sheets as his compatriot Friedel, is one of the few active players on this list. Signed from MLS side MetroStars by Man United in 2003, the New Jersey-born goaltender was fixed to be the man to finally replace Schmeichel, but after one season at Old Trafford it was decided he wasn’t the one to fill such illustrious boots.

Nonetheless, Howard would end up having a fine career, pulling off some spectacular performances for both the US national team and Everton, where he cemented his status as a club legend with 116 shutouts, as he might say himself. He’s currently back in MLS playing for Colorado Rapids.

7. Edwin Van Der Sar – 132

After four great years at Fulham in the early noughties, the Dutchman became a phenom at Manchester United, becoming the long-awaited replacement for a certain Dane.

Van Der Sar would help the Red Devils win multiple Premier League titles, as well as Champions League, keeping the ball out of the net on 90 occasions in the top flight. He also set a new record of 14 consecutive clean sheets in the 2008-09 season, smashing the previous record of 10 set by the man topping this list.

6. Pepe Reina – 134

During his nine years at Liverpool, the Spaniard was unstoppable in almost half of the league games he played in, which either shows how ridiculously strong Rafael Benitez’s defences were or how underappreciated Reina is as a goalkeeper; or both could be true. Currently warming the bench at AC Milan after spending three good years at Napoli, he also has the best clean sheets to games ratio in the history of the Premier League.

5. Nigel Martyn – 137

Martyn’s best years were spent at Leeds United in between spells at Crystal Palace and Everton, accumulating a rake of incredible stops along the way. Criminally underrated in the pantheon of great top tier English goalkeepers, watch back his saves and one might conclude he was a prototype David De Gea.

4. David Seaman – 140

Just like Nigel Martyn, Seaman’s early playing career predates the Premier League, meaning his numbers are in fact more impressive than his post-1992 statistics illustrate. The ex-England goalie played for a number of teams before landing in north London, where he became a mainstay between the sticks at Arsenal for 13 years, keeping 137 clean sheets for the Gunners.

3. Mark Schwarzer – 151

The Australian only joined one of the top clubs towards the end of his career, signing for Chelsea in 2013 as a backup, but he was one of the most consistent performers in his position while lining out for Middlesbrough and Fulham. A Europa League finalist with both clubs as well as a League Cup winner with Boro, Schwarzer holds the distinction of being the first non-British or non-Irish player to reach 500 Premier League appearances.

2. David James – 169

Often liable to make a howler, James’ sheer longevity propels him so far up this list. Then again, there’s a reason why so many teams have called on his services over the course of a 26-year career. Making his big break at Liverpool in the nineties, he would go on to appear for Aston Villa, Man City, West Ham, and Portsmouth, before heading to Iceland and India to finish out his playing days, retiring at the age of 44.

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1. Peter Cech – 202

Having only announced his impending retirement in January, Cech is the only goalie in Premier League history to have kept 200 or more clean sheets, keeping 162 of those for Chelsea during his highly successful stint before moving to London rivals Arsenal.

Although he could never quite get back to the level he was at before suffering an unfortunate head injury in the first minute of a match against Reading in 2006, the Czech international was at one point during the noughties the undisputed best in his position. His stats tell a story of just how unstoppable he was, especially at Stamford Bridge where he made up part of arguably the stingiest defence in English football ever.

The Czech Republic international is unlikely to add to his tally before retiring, with Bernd Leno seemingly preferred as number one, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone will catch up to his phenomenal record either.

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Five famous footballers who were hated by their own fans

Granit Xhaka’s popularity at Arsenal has reached a new low, the much-maligned midfielder’s angry reaction to the crowd’s jeers during Sunday’s draw with Crystal Palace sparking outrage amongst the club’s support.

Xhaka’s ill-advised decision to cup his ears and mouth “f*** off” to his own supporters has made his position at the club uncertain, not least because he was appointed club captain ahead of the new campaign.

The Switzerland international is not the only player to have suffered a difficult relationship with his own supporters, however, and he is likely not to be the last.

Five famous footballers who were hated by their own fans, all data collects from iSports API:

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Gareth Bale – Real Madrid

A world-record signing who has helped his side to four Champions League titles in six seasons, including performing match-winning antics in two of those finals, Gareth Bale must be left wondering quite how it turned so sour for the Welshman at Real Madrid.

Having established himself as arguably the finest player in the Premier League, Bale headed for Spain in 2013 in a record-breaking move and success soon followed. The former Tottenham Hotspur star ended his first season by helping Real to La Decima, scoring in the club’s final success over city rivals Atletico Madrid.

A host of major honours, including three consecutive Champions League triumphs have followed, Bale producing a stunning performance off the bench to score twice and beat Liverpool in the 2018 showpiece in Ukraine.

However, the Welsh winger has fallen out-of-favour under manager Zinedine Zidane who has been desperate to offload the player, whilst he has been targeted by fans as a scapegoat during the club’s worst performances in recent times.

Such has been Bale’s unpopularity at the Bernabeu that the club tried to force him to move China, whilst the Spanish side’s supporters have attacked his car and chanted ‘desagradecido’, the Spanish word for ungrateful, as he has arrived for training.

His reluctance to leave – his current contract worth £600,000-a-week running until 2022 – has made him further disliked and his future at the club remains uncertain.

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Joleon Lescott – Aston Villa

The former England defender was part of Aston Villa‘s dismal relegation campaign four years ago, producing a series of uninspired performances as the Midlands side dropped into the second tier for the first time in over two decades.

Many of the side which finished rock bottom of the division were targeted for jeers by the club’s supporters, though Lescott made himself especially unpopular following a pair of rather idiotic incidents.

Following a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool in February, Lescott reacted to the club’s biggest home defeat in 81 years by tweeting a picture of his luxury Mercedes just two hours after the full-time whistle, further fracturing his relationship with an incensed fanbase which had seen their team slump to eight points from safety following a chastening defeat.

Lescott would somewhat embarrassingly claim he ‘pocket tweeted’ the image by mistake, though the common consensus was that this was a middle-fingered salute to the Aston Villa boo boys

The defender would later described the confirmation of the club’s early relegation as a “a weight off the shoulders”, a statement which unsurprisingly did little to boost his popularity.

Charles Itandje – Liverpool

Remember him? Probably not.

A famous face in only the sense that he was a professional footballer at one of world football’s biggest clubs, the former Cameroon goalkeeper endured an all together forgettable time during a three-year spell at Liverpool, making just seven first-team appearances all of which were in cup competition.

However, Itandje is remembered for all the wrong reasons on Merseyside for one particular incident. During the club’s memorial service for the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Itandje was pictured laughing and behaving inappropriately during the service.

He was subsequently suspended by the club and would never play another game at any level in a Red shirt before leaving for Greek side Atromitos, while he also claimed to have been threatened by the club’s supporters following the backlash.

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Mauro Icardi

Immensely talented, though a player who endured somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the Inter Milan support.

The Argentine striker has established himself as one of the deadliest forwards in Italian football and was appointed as Inter’s club captain at the age of just 22, though despite his prolific returns in front of goal his relationship with his own fans soon deteriorated.

During a disappointing 2014/15 season in which Inter finished 14 points adrift of Champions League qualification, Icardi was involved in an angry altercation with the Inter ultras, who threw his shirt back in his face after he had given it to the crowd following a 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo.

It was, however, Icardi’s recollection of the events in his autobiography which sparked controversy. Icardi heavily criticised the club’s ultras, going as far to challenge them to a fight and threatening to fly over 100 Argentine criminals to ‘kill them on the spot’.

Unsurprisingly, his comments did not go down well and he was later stripped of the captaincy. He continued to endure a difficult relationship with the club’s supporters in the years since, his wife and agent Wanda Nara continuing to stir proceedings in the background, before joining Paris Saint-Germain on a season-long loan deal last summer.

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Granit Xhaka

The most recent player to feature in this list is the Arsenal captain, whose position at the club is uncertain following his aforementioned reaction to jeers from the home support.

The Swiss international has rarely been a popular figure at the club during three seasons at the Emirates, producing a series of inept displays and being targeted, often justified, for some of the club’s poorer performances in recent seasons.

Voted in as club captain during the summer, Xhaka was supposed to be the leader behind a new era under Unai Emery, though that looks unlikely given his actions last weekend.

Having waved his arms and cupped his ears to the supporter’s boos, Xhaka would proceed to tell the Arsenal fans to ‘f*** off’ before visibly removing his shirt as he left the field.

Xhaka’s actions were unacceptable, particularly from a club captain, however it was a visible demonstration of his frustration at a difficult relationship with his own support.

Whether he can come back from this remains to be seen, though it will take some effort to win back the affection of the Arsenal faithful.

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The five teams with the worst defensive records in Premier League history

It’s said that a good attack can win you a game, but a good defence can win you a title.

Someone should really have told this lot…

The greatest teams are built on solid foundations, though we’re not sure any side on this list could quite be called that.

The Premier League has seen some truly dodgy defences, and we’ve decided to compile a list of the very worst. Here are the five leakiest defences of the Premier League era.

The 5 teams with the worst defensive records in Premier League history, according to iSports API football data.

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5. Wolves – 2011/12 – 82 goals

A miserable campaign for the Midlands club, who finished bottom of the Premier League having won just five league games all season.

They actually scored more goals than both Stoke City and Aston Villa who survived the drop, but a leaky backline which shipped 82 goals saw them relegated to the second tier.

Manager Mick McCarthy was sacked in February and replaced by Terry Connor, though neither manager had a solution to their defensive troubles.

4. Burnley – 2009/10 – 82 goals

Now an established top division side, the Burnley of a decade ago were a different outfit to the current team.

The Clarets arrived in the Premier League for the 2009/10 for the very first time, full of excitement for their first top-flight season in 33 years.

Their excitement didn’t last long…

A league-high 82 goals conceded saw the Lancashire side swiftly return to the second tier, finishing 18th in the division. Their 6-1 defeat to Manchester City the equal highest home loss of the season.

3. Fulham – 2013/14 – 85 goals

The 2013/14 season was the first time two sides (Manchester City & Liverpool) had scored a century of league goals.

In a high scoring season, it seemed Fulham also wanted in on the act.

Sadly, for the West London club, the vast amount of goals in their fixtures were at the wrong end as a poor defence cost them their Premier League status.

The Cottagers shipped 85 league goals, seeing them relegated after a 13-year stay in the top flight.

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2. Derby County – 2007/08 – 89 goals

No team in Premier League history has perhaps been as out of their depth as Derby County in 2007/08.

A record-breaking season for all the wrong reasons, the Midlands side set a whole host of unwanted records, including the lowest ever points total with a paltry 11.

The Rams conceded 89 goals on route to their relegation, a record for a 38 game season, with the low point of a season featuring a 32-game winless run a 6-0 hammering at home to Aston Villa.

They have not been seen in the top flight since.

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1. Swindon Town – 1993/94 – 100 goals

For younger readers, the thought of Swindon Town as a Premier League club may be too hard to grasp, but rewind back to 1993 and the Robins reached the promised land after 73 years of trying.

Their stay lasted just the one season, with Swindon finishing bottom of the then 22-team division having conceded a whopping 100 goals.

Yes, a century of goals conceded.

The lowlight was perhaps a 7-1 thrashing at Newcastle, with Peter Beardsley, Rob Lee and Steve Watson all scoring braces.

In fairness, their record comes from the now-defunct 42 game season, but that’s about as much credit as we’ll give them for a truly woeful record.

For more information, please click iSports API.

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