It is said that many times Footballers often fail to replicate their club-level form when called up to their national teams. There can be many reasons for it, from the high pressure representing their countries to playing in a different system. There are some exceptions to this, with some players continuously shining at an international level than their respective clubs. This is a list of five such enigmatic players.
#5 Andriy Yarmolenko
The Ukrainian spent the majority of his career playing for Dynamo Kyiv before transferring to Borussia Dortmund in an ill-fated spell in the 2017-18 season. He then transferred to West Ham next season where he has been underwhelming so far, scoring just 10 goals in almost 50 appearances.
Meanwhile, his career with the Ukrainian national team has been outstanding. With 42 goals in around 100 caps for the Yellow and Blue, he is the country’s Captain and Talisman. He had an amazing Euro 2020 this year, racking up 4 goal involvements in 5 games as they were the surprise package of the tournament.
#4 Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale was never always more prolific for his country than his club as his records for his previous clubs Tottenham Hotspur (twice) and Real Madrid have been nothing short of spectacular. Bale won a plethora of trophies for Madrid and even some finals for them single-handedly but has been disillusioned with life in Madrid after the animosity Los Blancos fans have for him.
This was strengthened when he celebrated with a banner that implied he preferred his country and golf more than Real Madrid while on international duty. He spent the last season on loan at Spurs after his mega-money move to the Chinese Super League fell through.
But for his country, he has been nothing short of heroic. He was their best player in the last few tournaments and is The Dragon’s Captain and all-time top scorer with 36 goals in 99 caps.
3# Paul Pogba
It might seem unfair to put Pogba on this list given his amazing performances for Manchester United in the last few games, especially after he grabbed four assists against Leeds United on the opening day of the season. He grabbed another in the draw at Southampton taking the French midfielder’s tally to five in just two games.
But given the money and hype involved in his move from Juventus, his career has been somewhat underwhelming for United, only having won an EFL Cup and a Europa League in his time with the Red Devils. He undoubtedly has the talent and ability which he has shown in flashes but not consistently for his club yet.
For France, he has been a vital part of the team. His crowning moment was the 2018 World Cup, where he formed an excellent partnership with N’golo Kante and was a vital cog in the Les Bleus’s triumph, even scoring a stunner in the final against Croatia.
He had a good Euro 2020 with two-goal involvements and being declared as Star of the Match against Germany in a fine display despite France’s early exit. He has been a leader during all these runs and still is an important component for Didier Deschamp’s side.
2# Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka has not exactly set the world alight since his move to Arsenal in 2016. He has been good in flashes but not consistently, with questions even asked if he’s struggling with the pace of the Premier League and would suit a much slower, more tactical league. He has been a divisive figure amongst the Gunners fan base.
He had an outburst against Crystal Palace in the 2019-2020 season when he threw his kit while being substituted off as many fans jeered at him. He found some form after that incident and even went on to win the FA Cup that season.
He has been prone to rash challenges and red cards during his Arsenal career, with him racking up another recently as he was sent off in the 5-0 loss to Man City. It looked like he was on the verge of a move to Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma, as he even implied he wanted to move there but that ultimately fell through and he signed a contract extension.
But for the Swiss National team, whom he captains, he has been very crucial, being the lynchpin in the Swiss midfield. He had a fantastic Euro 2020, with his amazing display against World Champions France earning plaudits and the Star of the Match award as he completely dominated from the midfield. The Swiss will be hoping he will replicate this form when the 2022 Qatar World Cup comes next year.
1# Xherdan Shaqiri
Xhaka’s compatriot, ‘Powercube’ as he is known, was a major coup for Liverpool when they signed him relegated Stoke City at a bargain price. He was usually a late sub to change games for Coach Jurgen Klopp. A combination of injuries, his lack of defensive work rate and the excellence and freakish consistency of Mohamed Salah reduced his game-time significantly. He finally left for Lyon this summer transfer window.
He has been no less than a legend for Switzerland. Always turning up and scoring screamers like the bicycle kick at the 2014 World Cup and scoring the winner in a highly emotional win against Serbia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He was excellent at the Euros, where Coach Vladimir Petkovic aptly fielded him in a more central role. He recorded four goal involvements in five games, being declared Star of the Match against Turkey in a 3-1 win.