Gary Neville names Louis Saha and Michael Essien as the two most underrated players he’s faced in the Premier League… admitting his ex-Man United team-mate ‘destroyed’ him at centre-back while qualifying the former Chelsea star ‘brilliant’ midfielder
- Gary Neville has named Louis Saha and Michael Essien as the most underrated rivals
- Saha ‘destroyed’ Neville twice at Fulham before Manchester United move
- Neville hailed Essien’s role in a dominant Chelsea side alongside Frank Lampard
- Jamie Carragher found challenges in the games Liverpool needed to win
Gary Neville has named Michael Essien and Louis Saha as his most underrated Premier League players, in a discussion of three decades of the new top flight.
Former Manchester United star Neville has named the pair – including ex-Red Devil Saha – as the people who came to mind about the unsung heroes he faced while playing.
Essien spent eight years at Chelsea, working in a Blues-filled midfield alongside the likes of Frank Lampard during his spell at Stamford Bridge, where he won two Premier League titles.
Chelsea’s Michael Essien has been named one of Gary Neville’s most underrated players
Louis Saha, who spent four years at Manchester United, caused Neville problems at Fulham
Speaking to Sky Sports in response to a fan question, the 47-year-old pundit said: “A player who played for a top Premier League club and didn’t get the applause from others was Michael Essien at Chelsea in those first two or three years. The impact he had on this team, through his ability to run, the energy of midfield, the balance of Frank, I thought that Essien was a brilliant player.
The Ghanaian played for Real Madrid, AC Milan and Panathaniakos before retiring in 2020. He is now a coach in Denmark with FC Nordsjaelland.
Saha has played for a number of Premier League sides, signing for United from Fulham in 2004 and playing alongside Neville at Old Trafford for four years.
Neville says Saha ‘destroyed’ him twice while at Fulham, before moving to Old Trafford
The French forward has also made appearances for Newcastle, Everton, Tottenham and Sunderland while plying his trade in England.
Saha played six games for Lazio in Italy before hanging up his boots in 2013 and founding AxisStars, a professional network for professional athletes and artists.
“I think the one I played against and then ended up playing at United was Louis Saha when he played for Fulham,” Neville told the panel. “He destroyed me twice as a centre-back. Once when he was in the FA Cup championship, and the next time in the Premier League.
Neville named his most underrated players to mark three decades in the Premier League
Jamie Carragher found the biggest challenges in the games Liverpool needed to win
Fellow expert Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender, had a number of other caps for his underrated picks – noting the challenge that came from matches the Reds were favorites to win.
“The games that I found difficult were against players like Kevin Davies, Bobby Zamora or Duncan Ferguson, when their teams were really direct, and when you play against a team that everyone expects you to beat, everyone expects you to win every challenge,’ Carragher revealed.
“They just give you an absolute nightmare, using their bodies, winning the ball. You’re much more involved in the game than you would be against United or Arsenal, because they pass the ball behind their backs. It’s about being on and getting people in front organized, but it’s long throws and set pieces. I’ve never been the greatest either.