Watford's Ashley Fletcher celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Carabao Cup third round match at Vicarage Road, Watford. Picture date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.

Seven players we can’t believe are at Premier League clubs in 2021

The Premier League is marketed as the world’s finest domestic championship and boasts high audiences and media attention across the planet. But not every Premier League player enjoys the profile of superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne or Mohamed Salah.

There are some players who are far more low-key, to the point that it’s easy to forget that they’re still playing for clubs in the English top flight.

We’ve rounded seven players who we struggle to believe are still contracted to Premier League clubs in 2021.

Andy Lonergan

After a long career in the Football League, Lonergan has in recent years turned into the master of football’s oddest job: the third (or fourth) choice goalkeeper.

After a season at Liverpool in 2019-20 as a very peripheral part of Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League-winning squad, he then spent half a season at Stoke, where he made his last professional appearance in the League Cup and then spent half a season back in the top tier with West Brom.

In 2021, his journey continues, and he now finds himself behind Jordan Pickford and Asmir Begovic in the pecking order at Everton.

As Rafa Benitez said when he announced the deal to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever: “We have a new signing, but maybe it’s a player nobody was expecting.”

Lewis Baker

Baker was one of Chelsea’s golden boys as he came through the ranks at Cobham. He excelled in the youth teams and in 2014 earned a first-team debut in the FA Cup.

He was also a key element of Gareth Southgate’s brilliant England Under-21 side and hopes were high that he would progress into Jose Mourinho’s first team.

But Baker was sent out to gain experience at Sheffield Wednesday before he could make a senior Premier League appearance for the Blues and quickly got lost among Chelsea’s loan army.

Seven more loan spells followed his half-season in the Steel City, including stints in the Netherlands (with Vitesse, of course), Germany and Turkey.

Having not found a new club for the 2021-22 season, though, he remains a Chelsea player, but one who will surely play little part in Thomas Tuchel’s plans.

England U21 manager Gareth Southgate holds up four fingers while shouting instructions at his players.

READ: Where are they now? England’s U21 team from Southgate’s last game

Erik Pieters

Pieters was a stalwart of the Stokelona era at the Britannia Stadium, chugging up and down the left flank as Mark Hughes chuntered on at the officials about any and every decision that went against his side.

But Pieters left the Potteries soon after relegation in 2018, first on a half-season loan to Amiens, then to Burnley, where he’s now a back-up option for regular left-back Charlie Taylor. Having played 11 minutes in the Premier League so far this season, we guess we’ll not be seeing that much of him.

Phil Bardsley

On the other side of the Turf Moor pitch – or the other end of the Turf Moor bench – is another former Stoke man in Bardsley.

Now 36, Bardsley has been at Burnley since 2017, his influence waning with each passing season to the point where, to be frank, we thought he might have retired.

Still, he’s had a solid career, and will forever be remembered as the man who knocked out Wayne Rooney.

Ashley Fletcher

Fletcher, a bit like Baker, was a promising player at one of the country’s biggest clubs – coming through at Manchester United during the messy managerial transition that followed Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.

But with opportunities limited at Old Trafford, he moved to West Ham in 2016. A single season in east London produced a single goal in 20 games, after which he moved to the Championship with Middlesbrough, enduring an inauspicious start, a loan at Sunderland and with it a brief role in the tragicomedy that was ‘Sunderland ’til I die’.

In 2021, though, Fletcher slipped under the radar and back down south to Watford, where he’s got two goals in two League Cup appearances and has played a grand total of zero Premier League minutes.

Dan Gosling

Gosling somehow only made 24 league appearances for Newcastle, even though it felt like he was there for an age. At Bournemouth, however, he did manage to establish himself as a solid-if-unspectacular Premier League midfielder, racking up more than 150 top-flight games.

In January 2021 he moved to Watford, helping the Hornets to promotion at the first attempt. He remains in Hertfordshire, but, like Fletcher, was very much on the margins of Xisco Munoz’s team. Perhaps, with Claudio Ranieri now in charge, he’ll have a chance to change that.

READ: A forensic analysis of Dan Gosling’s Merseyside Derby goal missed by ITV

Nathaniel Clyne

After coming through at Crystal Palace and moving up to the Premier League with Southampton, Clyne cemented his status as one of the best full-backs in the Premier League.

He earned a move to Liverpool in 2015 and established himself in the England team, starting the third group game at Euro 2016. In the last five years, however, Clyne has been through some tough spells, picking up a series of injuries and being let go by the Reds.

He moved back to Palace in 2020 and, despite being used sparingly by Roy Hodgson in 2020-21, the 30-year-old signed a new deal after the arrival of Patrick Vieira this summer.

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