When we think of injuries in soccer and of their repercussions, we often think of big names at big clubs. But oftentimes it is the absence of important players at mid-sized clubs that has the biggest impact on performance.
Larger clubs have the depth to replace even the most talented of players; most teams do not. This list of most impactful injuries this season will include one or two big names, but it also features several footballers that sometimes go unnoticed.
These players can be the difference between a good finish and a Champions League spot or the deciding factor between safety and relegation, and when they have been hurt this season, their clubs have suffered.
Most Impactful Injuries In European Soccer This Season
Last season, Pedri was an ironman, suiting up a total of 72 times for Barcelona and Spain. He played nearly every minute for Spain at the Euros, then three weeks later he was starting for the Spanish Olympic team in Japan. This year, the Canarian-born midfielder has played just 12 times in LaLiga.
As a testament to his impact, Barcelona is undefeated in those 12 league matches, including wins against Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. In 23 games without Pedri, Barcelona has lost six times, including four matches that finished 1-0. Turn a couple of those losses into draws, add in a win or two, and suddenly Barça is three points behind Real instead of 12.
Yerry Mina (Everton)
Regardless of how Everton's season finishes, there will be plenty of blame to go around, whether it be the lack of leadership from Frank Lampard, goalless droughts from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin or calamitous defending. One factor that has not been considered enough is the injury to Colombian center back Yerry Mina.
Mina has missed 16 matches this season through injury, and during that span, Everton has earned three wins and three draws — that's 0.75 points per game. In matches Mina has played, Everton is averaging 1.5 points per game. When the defender was first sidelined, Everton dropped from fifth to 14th. During his second injury span, the Toffees went from 14th to 18th. Mina's recurring hamstring injury kept him out for Wednesday's fixture against Watford, and (look away Everton fans) he could potentially be out for the rest of the season.
Ben Brereton Díaz (Blackburn Rovers)
You may wonder why we've included a second-tier player who missed a month of football. Still, Blackburn Rovers fans will know that the mid-season injury to star striker Ben Brereton Díaz cost them at least a promotion playoff spot, if not automatic promotion. The Chilean striker had 20 goals in 30 league games, and Rovers were on the brink of returning to the Premier League for the first time since 2012.
When Brereton Díaz went down with an ankle injury against West Brom in February, Blackburn Rovers were third in the Championship. Blackburn won twice in seven games without their talented striker and dropped to eighth place. All momentum was lost, and a healthy Ben Brereton Díaz could only lead the club to two wins in seven matches to finish the campaign as Rovers finished eighth.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
It might not be a vintage Vardy season, but the ever-consistent English striker has more than 10 Premier League goals for the seventh straight season despite two separate injury spells. Leicester has not been the same without its frontman — in 11 matches Vardy has missed through injury, Leicester has won just twice.
Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim)
Hoffenheim CDM/CB Florian Grillitsch is far from the most talented player on this list, but the 26-year-old Austrian has a case for being one of the most underrated players in the Bundesliga. He has been part of the club's backbone for five seasons now, starting matches at CDM, CM, CAM and, more recently, as a center back.
Consider his impact on the club. Due to a variety of injuries and illnesses this season, Grillitsch has featured in 18 of 33 possible matches for his club this season. With its versatile midfielder sidelined recently, the club lost three and drew two matches. During this ongoing five-game skid, Hoffenheim slid from a Champions League spot down to eighth place — 11 points behind fourth-place Leipzig and that final UCL berth. Five games missed might be costing Hoffenheim tens of millions of dollars and a rare Champions League spot.