There is always speculation and debate over who the best player in any country is, but there is not nearly enough coverage about the unsung heroes.

The players that do not always get the credit they deserve, but without them, that team lose their way and look nothing like what they have previously portrayed.

Here are a few candidates who should be put forward as the most underrated player in the Premier League.

Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea

While the Spaniard is recognised as a pivotal part of Chelsea’s success since arriving in 2012 from Marseille, Azpilicueta should be heralded as a Premier League great.

It is rare to see a player hold down a starting position as long as him in a club as big as Chelsea, but he has done so with pure excellence.

One of the defenders’ strengths is his incredible versatility. The Spaniard has featured mainly as the central centre back in Antonio Conte’s three-back formation this season, but he has been used as a left wing-back and a right wing-back in previous years.

That quality to be able to play anywhere across the defence is uncommon and is why he is such an important player for Chelsea. Not only that, but he has a knack of finding himself in goal scoring positions and is clinical enough to put them away.

He might only be 1.78m tall, which is relatively short for a centre back, but there are seldom times when he is caught out of position or makes mistakes. Azpilicueta is one of the most reliable players in the Premier League.

Mousa Dembélé – Tottenham

If you ask any Tottenham fan, they are likely to say that the Belgian is one of their most important players. While they might rate him ever so highly, it appears the wider population do not appreciate his role in this Spurs side.

Dembélé picked up a lengthy ankle injury that prohibited him playing for 33 days, which, in turn, caused Tottenham’s performance level to decrease. While they were not dropping a lot of points, the overall intensity certainly dwindled and it was clear to see why.

The former Fulham midfielder provides that never-ending energy in Tottenham’s midfield, driving with the ball at his feet gracefully and powerfully past the opposition. It is no wonder that a lot of his teammates say that he is the hardest to get off the ball – he has great strength and balance.

While Dembélé returned to the Spurs squad by the end of October, it has been a long time coming since returning to full fitness. In fact, he only completed his first 90 minutes since coming back in early December.

Once the Belgian international is fighting back at the peak of his powers, Spurs’ confidence and performance level will once again increase. He is an instrumental cog in Tottenham’s team.

James Tarkowski – Burnley

Not many football fans would have heard of Burnley’s Tarkowski before the start of the season. Last season, he was mainly used as a substitute, coming on for the sporadic 15 minutes at the end of the game, normally to replace the player breathing the heaviest in defence.

Interestingly, Tarkowski was used as a right back and a defensive midfielder, as well as his natural position at centre back, last year.

Due to the sale of Michael Keane to Everton, the 25-year-old was given his chance to impress at centre back and has not looked back since. His performances have been so good that he is now on the brink of an England call-up under Gareth Southgate.

Burnley are currently sixth in the Premier League, two points from fourth place – a Champions League-qualifying position. It has been a remarkable story so far, but Sean Dyche’s men will know that they have a gruelling five months to maintain their position.

Tarkowski has commanded his defence incredibly well and looks a natural-born leader. The noticeable thing about the centre back is his comfort on the ball, whether he is looking for a pass to get Burnley pushing forward, or taking players on himself, he looks like he is in his element.

There is big things to come from Tarkowski, and it will not be long until one of the bigger clubs come calling for his signature.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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