The Premier League’s Greatest Mavericks

 3 years, 5 months ago 0 Comments

Everybody loves a maverick. The mystery and guile which surrounds some players is enough to make fans swoon as soon as they touch the ball, and they’re capable of anything. Since its 1992 inception, the Premier League has seen all kinds of mavericks who can dazzle and unlock defences in the blink of an eye but they can also have a detrimental impact on occasion when it doesn’t go their way.

It’s the unpredictability of the maverick which makes it tough for punters to accurately predict results each week, but it’s important to check the Oddschecker tips to see if they have insight on how key players will fare in upcoming fixtures. In this article, I’ll rate the top three Premier League mavericks for you to fall in love with them all over again.

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the pitch. In his early career he was seen as a potential superstar of the game, rising to fame at Inter Milan with his powerful physique and clinical finishes. Now a household name, Super Mario moved to Manchester City and that’s when the fireworks – quite literally – started.

photo CAPTION: Balotelli provided fireworks on and off the pitch

Balotelli started to make a name for himself for his off the pitch antics, and hit headlines all over the world when his house was set ablaze by fireworks in the bathroom. This wasn’t the only mischief the Italian managed during his three years with City though, he was also reprimanded for throwing darts at a youth player and frequently had skirmishes with teammates.

Balotelli was just as provocative on the pitch and managed to get sent off on three occasions in the Premier League. The 30-year-old has the ability to dominate defences and this was seen through his 13 goals in the 2011/12 campaign, but he has lacked maturity throughout his career and this is ultimately what prevented him making it at the very top level.

Eric Cantona

Cult hero Eric Cantona was a maverick, and one with huge success. The Frenchman graced the Premier League during its infancy, playing from 1992-1997 for competitors Leeds United and Manchester United.

Synonymous with his raised collar, King Cantona lit up English football with creativity and goalscoring prowess. The Frenchman was a catalyst for the revival of the Red Devils and is widely regarded as one of the club’s all time greatest players. It wasn’t all plain sailing with Cantona though, and despite his talent and ability, he was perceived as arrogant by the British press and also had moments of volatile behaviour. The prodigious Number 7 became an ambassador for edgy marketing, starring in Nike commercials with ominous settings and actually defeated the Devil in a football match at one point.

Despite four Premier League trophies and an impressive goal haul, Cantona will forever be associated with his 1995 conviction of assault, when he received an eight month suspension for kicking a spectator in the crowd.

Paolo Di Canio

Romans are renowned for their passionate and temperamental characters, and Di Canio was the perfect ambassador.

Technically gifted, Di Canio honed his skills in his native Italy before moving to the UK, acclimatising at Celtic before joining the Premier League. A creative and deep-lying forward, Di Canio unlocked defences with quick feet and became a fan favourite at both Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham United.

photo CAPTION: Di Canio was a set piece master at West Ham

The talent was often coupled with controversy and even though Di Canio managed to achieve impressive personal accolades as SPFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1997 and West Ham’s player of the season in 2000, he was as prominent on the front pages of newspapers as the back.

A self-professed fascist, Di Canio’s political views have often limited his managerial career and even plagued him as a player. The Italian has tattoos emblazoned on him showing a variety of emblems and even one of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Much like Cantona, despite his positive impact on the league, he’ll be remembered for a controversial incident. In 1998, the maverick was given an eleven match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over after being sent off against Arsenal.

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