The 14 Worst Transfers In Premier League History
The transfer window is about to open once again and there will be obscene amounts of money flying around world football for established superstars and wonderkids with potential. Some of these moves will prove fruitful, some will end in unmitigated disaster. Many in the past have proved disastrous but none more so than these 14 deals. Here are the worst transfers in Premier League history.
14. Steve Marlet: Lyon – Fulham £11.5m
This looked a very exciting signing for newly promoted Fulham in 2001, but it was certainly a big gamble for the huge price of £11.5m. His return of 10 goals over the next two seasons was very disappointing, but not the worst ever – his place on this list, though, is secured by the actions of Fulham owner Mohammed Al Fayed. So disappointed was Al Fayed that he took the Fulham manager Jean Tigana to court over the fee paid for Marlet, accusing him of profiting from it himself, as he was clearly not worth that much. Al Fayed was unsuccessful, but when a signing was so bad a chairman tries to sue, then he deserves a spot on here.
13. Paul Pogba: Juventus – Man Utd £89.3m
Depending on what he does from here on in, Pogba could end up nowhere near this list, or possibly significantly higher up it. Pogba, of course, was at United before he departed for Juventus in the summer of 2012. He left on a free transfer, with the compensation to United thought to be around £800,000. Four years later he returned as the world’s most expensive player, costing the Red Devils £89.3m. He is going to have to do very well indeed to make that dreadful bit of business look worthwhile, and so far, he has not. He has shown very slight flashes over brilliance in his United career so far but has largely appeared lost in a midfield that has regularly changed around him. Unless he improves dramatically, his outrageous price tag looks like an outrageous waste of money.
12. Angel Di Maria: Real Madrid – Man Utd £59.7m
United splashed out £59.7m for the Argentinian in 2014, more than a British team had ever paid for a player at that point, so there was plenty expected of him. Unfortunately, and it is not obvious why, Di Maria did not deliver in the slightest. He was only at Old Trafford for one season, managing four goals in 32 appearances in all competitions. His poor relationship with manager Louis van Gaal didn’t help matters, but that was no excuse for the woeful nature of his performances over the season before he was shipped off to PSG in the summer for a £15m loss.
11. Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio – Man Utd £28.1m
Manchester United really have suffered with expensive flops in the Premier League era and Juan Veron is certainly among them. Alex Ferguson broke the English transfer record for the Argentinian as he paid Lazio £28.1m for his services in 2001, but scarcely any of that was recouped through performances on the pitch. Veron managed 82 appearances in two seasons across all competitions, but his displays in the Premier League were especially poor and he was sold for half what United paid for him in 2003, where he flopped even further at Chelsea.
10. Georgi Hristov: Partizan Belgrade – Barnsley £1.5m
The Macedonian was (and still is) Barnsley’s record signing as they arrived in the Premier League in 1997 for their first ever season in the top flight of English football. Despite the whopping £1.5m outlay, the forward managed just four goals as the Tykes were relegated. He also managed to wind up his adopted town with the following, immortal comments on Barnsley ladies. "The local girls are far uglier than the ones back in Belgrade or Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where I come from. "Our women are much prettier. Besides, they don't drink as much beer as the Barnsley girls which is something I don't like at all.”
9. Massimo Taibi: Lazio – Man Utd £4.5m
£4.5m for a goalkeeper who made just four appearances and is remembered chiefly for two howlers is a pretty awful bit of business by anyone’s standards. That is how you can sum up the Manchester United career of Massimo Taibi who did not distinguish himself in the Premier League at all. He is remembered for shoddy goalkeeping which led to goals for Liverpool and Southampton whilst one of his other outings was a 5-0 loss to Chelsea. He returned to Italy after just one season.
8. Thomas Brolin: Parma – Leeds £4.5m
Back in 1995 £4.5m was an awful lot of money and Leeds expected to get a lot in return for it when they splashed that amount on Swedish international Thomas Brolin. The striker has scored three times at the 1994 World Cup and impressed in Serie A with Parma so appeared to be something of a coup for the Yorkshire side. Injury, form, weight and disciplinary problems followed which saw him loaned out after just one season and four goals for the club. His contract was terminated a year later. Given his reputation and the relative expensive at the time, to be voted Leeds’ worst player in living memory, as he was by the fans in 2003, really sees him deserve a place on this list.
7. Bosko Balaban: Dinamo Zagreb – Aston Villa £5.8m
Not many knew too much about Bosko Balaban when Aston Villa shelled out £5.8m for him in 2001 – a sizeable outlay for the club at that time. Not many knew much about him when he left on a free two years later. That is because the Croatian managed just nine appearances for Villa, seven of which came as a substitute and none of which produced a goal. He went on to bang them in for the likes of Club Brugge and on a return to Dinamo Zagreb, but he certainly could not cut it in the Premier League.
6. Danny Graham: Swansea – Sunderland £5m
Never a big name so can go under the radar in terms of dreadful signings, but Danny Graham to Sunderland in January 2013 was one of the biggest wastes of £5m in history. The striker didn’t manage a goal from that January till the summer and then went out on loan for a couple of years to Hull, Middlesbrough and Wolves. He returned to the Stadium of Light in 2015 and played 24 more times in the Premier League, managing one goal. Not a great move for anyone involved.
5. Winston Bogarde: Barcelona – Chelsea
Most would deny their place on this list, but not Winston Bogarde, and so he very much deserves a spot right near the top. The Dutchman famously said: “I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don't care.” The reason for this was the Dutchman arriving at Chelsea after spells with Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona and totally failing to live up to his reputation. Bogarde was on (what was then) a massive £40,000-a-week but as Claudio Ranieri replaced Luca Vialli as manager soon after arrival he was deemed surplus to requirements. The club wanted rid, but Bogarde wouldn’t budge, happy to take his wages for four years, making just 13 appearances in that time, 12 of which came in the first year. Bogarde added: "Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract." Fair enough.
4. Konstantinos Mitroglu: Olympiacos – Fulham £13m
This was a huge roll of the dice by the Cottagers who broke their transfer record on a striker in the January transfer window in a bid to save them from relegation. Mitroglu came with a big reputation after an impressive run of goal-scoring in Greece, but injury kept him from showing any of that form in England. From January until the end of the season, the forward started one game and came off the bench twice, not finding the back of the net once. Fulham were relegated and he was gone in the summer – a forgettable stay to say the least.
3. Andriy Shevchenko: Milan – Chelsea £30.8m
Shevchenko arrived at Chelsea in 2006 with a reputation as one of the very best strikers on the planet having just scored 173 goals over seven seasons for AC Milan. The £30.8m was a record for a British club at the time but it didn’t even seem that bad for a man who looked guaranteed to produce goals. Unfortunately, Sheva could not guarantee them. Four strikes in 30 Premier League games in his first season is not what the Blues were expecting and just one more in his second campaign was not the improvement they were after either. Across all competitions, the Ukrainian managed 22 goals in two seasons, which isn’t the absolute worst, but for the money and reputation he came with, it is appalling.
2. Andy Carroll: Newcastle – Liverpool £35m
January 2011 was an odd time for transfers, we will come back to that very shortly, but the second worst transfer of that month saw Andy Carroll move to Liverpool for a ridiculous £35m. The big man had looked pretty good for Newcastle on their return to the Premier League in 2010 but the six months until January of that season was basically all of his experience in the top flight. The Reds paying that much for him seemed a big risk to say the least. Carroll managed two goals over the remainder of the season before the big test of his first full campaign with Liverpool in 2011-12. In 35 league appearances he managed four goals before being farmed out on loan to West Ham for the following season. 11 goals in all competitions for £35m makes Carroll one of the worst transfers in history.
1. Fernando Torres: Liverpool – Chelsea £50m
The Spanish superstar was sensational for Liverpool for three seasons from 2007-10 when he banged in 72 goals. However, he started to look like he had lost something at the start of the 2010-11 season, which is why it was surprising that Chelsea forked out £50m for him in January of that season. Torres managed just one Premier League goal before the end of that campaign. He stayed for three more seasons at Stamford Bridge and returned 19 goals in 96 league games. A truly woeful return for the amount spent.
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