Albert Riera (26, Spanish, Liverpool)
A bit of a late bloomer, perhaps, but arguably one of the reasons Liverpool have been maintaining a title push this season. Of four signings made the improve the width of that team this year, he has been the only one to do so. Will never be a regular for Spain but his recent involvement in the team shows that he's gaining admirers.
Esteban Cambiasso (28, Argentinean, Internazionale)
Perhaps one of the most tactically gifted midfielders in the game, the Argentinean midfielder has a fantastic eye for a pass and splendid movement. Not the most glamorous player at Inter and certainly not for Argentina, but he is at his most effective when operating just ahead of the centre circle. His goal against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup shows why a player of his style will always be in demand.
Michael Carrick (27, English, Manchester United)
I go on about Michael Carrick quite a lot on this blog, but I think he is still underrated. He has been very good for England when called upon and his neatness is the difference, for club at least, between 0-0 and 1-0 in tight games away from home. Pauk Hayward, writing in the Guardian today, insists that:
"Carrick is one defence against the entirely rational suspicion that Englishmen will never be able to pass or keep the ball as well as the best Europeans or South Americans."
For that alone we should applaud the lad.
Park Ji-Sung (27, South Korean, Manchester United)
This lad is all energy, but there is more to his game: in the defensively minded formations that won United the Champions League last year, Park Ji-Sung worked tirelessly to deny space and make the difference with limited opportunities. The young Rafael, at right-back, plays best with Park ahead of him - the Korean midfielder being more willing/able to go from one touchline to the other than many of his more fleet-footed Portuguese team mates. The functioning of Manchester United as a unit owes a lot to this man both in the dressing room and on the pitch.