Toxicity doesn’t have a profession. Let’s have a look at soccer to see some of the most toxic footballers. Football, often celebrated for its moments of brilliance and teamwork, also has its fair share of toxic players who create division within their teams.
Most Toxic Footballers
Today, we’re delving into the controversial world of some of football’s most notorious individuals who have earned a reputation for their disruptive behaviour both on and off the pitch.
1. Kylian Mbappe
Let’s start with Kylian Mbappe, a player known for his incredible talent but also for his toxic behavior. In 2022, he got into a fight with Neymar on the pitch over a penalty and even shoved Messi unprovoked in the same game. That year, he threw a tantrum because Vitinha didn’t pass the ball to him and refused to join the team in a counter-attacking move. Mbappe has been involved in physical fights in dressing rooms and reportedly even influenced PSG authorities to force certain players out. This summer, his transfer saga showcased his toxicity as he made life difficult for PSG, a club that treated him like royalty.
2. Neymar Jr
Neymar, PSG’s poster boy, has his own history of toxic behavior. He initiated clashes over penalties, such as the one with Cavani when he first arrived at PSG. His off-pitch antics, including an incident where he punched a fan, have added to his disruptive reputation. Coaches like Xavi and Luis Enrique distanced themselves from Neymar, citing his troublesome behavior.
3. Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku’s loyalty has often come into question. He fell out with Manchester United and their fans, which coincided with a significant drop in his form. After regaining his form at Inter Milan, he abruptly left to join Chelsea, only to express a desire to return to Inter Milan after a brief stint. Lukaku even flirted with Inter’s rivals, Juventus, leading to accusations of betrayal and a lack of trust from fans and clubs. Now, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Man United, Juventus, and almost every club around Europe don’t want Lukaku because he’s seen as a very toxic person.
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stands out as another player in the football world with a tendency towards toxicity. Despite his perpetual smile, his attitude marked by nonchalance and a lack of discipline has proven to be a constant challenge for his team. This toxicity reached a point where Mikel Arteta took the drastic step of stripping Aubameyang of the captaincy. Arteta went even further by terminating Aubameyang’s contract, allowing him to leave the club. The fact that the coach took such extreme measures with his most valuable player and the only Premier League Golden Boot winner on the team underscores just how disruptive Aubameyang’s presence had become in the dressing room.
5. Wilfred Zaha
Crystal Palace faced the challenges of managing Wilfred Zaha’s short temper. He frequently threw tantrums on the pitch, ready to fight players, referees, or even fans. His attitude, despite his talent, made him a demanding player to handle.
6. Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli, during his prime, possessed the talent to potentially become the world’s best striker, but his persistent toxic attitude served as a self-limiting factor. An infamous incident highlighted his disruptive behavior when he threw darts at a youth team player during a training session and astonishingly passed it off as a prank.
His behavior led to stern remarks from coaches like Roberto Mancini, who remarked that he would’ve been willing to deliver a punch to Balotelli’s head every day for a decade if possible. Even the seasoned manager Jose Mourinho labeled Balotelli as “unmanageable,” underscoring just how troublesome his conduct had become.
Liverpool’s attempt to reform Balotelli was short-lived, as they swiftly recognized his deeply ingrained toxicity. Consequently, they opted to send him back to Milan, where his disruptive behavior had already strained relations with Inter, Manchester City, and Milan.
7. Diego Costa
Diego Costa is infamous for his penchant for sparking conflicts and unnecessary altercations within his teams. However, what truly underscores his toxicity is the profound resentment he has garnered from his home country.
Born in Brazil, Costa made a surprising decision during Brazil’s preparations to host the 2014 World Cup. He chose to switch his international allegiance to Spain, even though there were no apparent issues with Brazil. Shockingly, the judicial director of the Brazilian Football Confederation revealed that Costa’s motivation for this switch was primarily financial. Consequently, Costa was labeled persona non grata within the Brazil national team. To be so intensely disliked by one’s own birthplace, especially in a football-loving nation, exemplifies the pinnacle of toxicity.
8. Ivan Toney
Ivan Toney’s outbursts against his own club are particularly noteworthy, to be honest. There’s concrete evidence of him on camera exclaiming derogatory remarks like “f*** Brentford” and dismissing the team he was a part of as “nowhere exciting.” Furthermore, his extensive involvement in gambling, which resulted in a lengthy ban, is currently taking a toll on the club’s operations and finances.
Richarlison is another player whose toxic tendencies have come under scrutiny. His perpetual bad mood and inflated ego have contributed to a negative reputation. Prior to his departure from Everton, he faced accusations of being a toxic influence within the dressing room.
One particularly memorable incident was an infamous interview in which he went on a public rant about his dissatisfaction with playing time under Conte and unapologetically labeled the season as “sh*t.” Such a public denunciation of his coach was a bold move and showcased a lack of respect for the norms and expectations within the football world.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, has not been immune to controversy. Despite his incredible skills, CR7 has exhibited moments of toxicity. When he found himself benched by Erik ten Hag shortly after the Dutchman took charge of Manchester United, Ronaldo’s discontent was evident, and he expressed it in a less than ideal manner.
In a significant display of frustration, he walked out on the team during a match. Even more concerning was his behavior during the break leading up to the World Cup, where he granted an interview in which he made several unfavorable remarks about his employers. This interview ultimately led to Manchester United terminating his contract. Regardless of one’s admiration for his talent, it’s undeniable that Cristiano Ronaldo’s actions in these instances were far from exemplary and carried a toxic undertone.
In the world of football, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. These players, despite their exceptional talents, have displayed toxic behavior that has disrupted teams and strained relationships. While their skills on the pitch are undeniable, their actions serve as a reminder that talent alone cannot always redeem a player’s reputation. So, who do you think is the most toxic footballer you’ve ever seen, past or present? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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