The beautiful game of football is now full of money – so much so that £1 billion is spent on transfers every year in the Premier League alone! Some transfers are incredible successes, like Luis Suarez and Alexis Sanchez, but some are unquestionable failures, and here are some of the best of those!
1. Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea, £50 million
The thing is, at the time this signing seemed huge – it was the fourth biggest ever and was supposedly the signing that took Chelsea to the top of the European game. At the time, Bruce Buck, Chelsea Chairman, said;
This is a very significant day for Chelsea, capturing one of the best players in the world with his peak years ahead of him.
We have long admired the talents of a player who is a proven goalscorer in English football and Fernando’s arrival is a sign of our continuing high ambitions. I hope every Chelsea fan is as excited as I am with this news.
It didn’t go so well. He scored 46 in 172 at Chelsea, and at Liverpool he got 81 in 142 games! He was shipped out on loan to Milan and Atletico and went down in history as an incredible transfer flop.
2. Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool, £35 million
The big man from Tyneside had had a super first half of the 2010-11 season, and was scoring goals and bullying defenders. Liverpool, having just lost Fernando Torres to a jubilant Chelsea, needed a new striker, so Kenny Dalglish brought in two new frontmen: Andy Carroll and a certain young man called Luis Suarez. Having scored 11 goals in 19 games so far that season, and earned a place in the England squad, Carroll seemed a surefire injection of goals to fire Liverpool towards the top 4. However, in the end it was the Uruguayan that stole all the headlines, because Carroll simply didn’t fit in!
As we’ll see with a number of Liverpool signings, they are bought for their name, not for their footballing ability. And Carroll is a good player, for sure, but Liverpool’s style of play, playing it around on the ground, did not suit Carroll at all.
It is another example of a transfer that seemed it would be so successful but it just wasn’t to be. But Carroll seems to be doing just fine at West Ham (when he isn’t injured) and was superb against Arsenal on Saturday – hey, Liverpool could do with a big, strong, quick striker who is unplayable against every PL defence… Err, right… They sold him…
3. Kevin de Bruyne – Chelsea to Wolfsburg, £18 million
This is the opposite – an incredible purchase by Wolfsburg, but just what where Chelsea doing? Jose Mourinho was never a fan of the Belgian, saying he didn’t work hard enough for the team and had a bad attitude. De Bruyne cost Wolfsburg £18million, but since he went on to become the Bundesliga player of the season, setting a new record of 27 assists for one year, that was nothing.
Manchester City paid something nearer his true value by coughing up £55m plus wages described as ‘astonishing’ by Wolfsburg. But given his 15 goals and 12 assists in an injury-plagued season, he is now worth about £70 million. While De Bruyne has catapulted City into the Champions League semi , Chelsea are staring at a lack of Champions League football for the first time in 13 years after an appalling season. How Chelsea could have used De Bruyne’s talents while last year’s player of the year, Eden Hazard, sulked his way through a sorry, goalless, Premier League season!
4. Nemanja Matic – Chelsea to Benfica, £2.25 million
David Luiz joined Chelsea from Benfica in January 2011, and it was little-known that Chelsea reject Nemanja Matic went the other way as a small part of the deal. In Lisbon he converted from a playmaker to a deep-lying midfielder and in his new role he got Benfica to the Europa League Final and won Portuguese player of the year. After a superb start for Matic the 2013/14 season, in January of 2014 Chelsea decided to bring in a new defensive midfielder – guess who? Matic moved back to the Bridge for £19 million more than the Blues sold him for three years earlier – in those three years they didn’t win a single Premier League crown, so who knows what they would’ve had in their trophy cabinet if Matic stayed and blossomed at Stamford Bridge as opposed to with Benfica.
5. Robbie Keane – Coventry City to Inter Milan, £19 million
In 2016, the idea of someone moving from Coventry to Inter for £20 mil seems absurd, but things like that happened in 2000! Marcello Lippi signed a 19-year-old Irishman, saying;
At that time at Inter, they had a policy of going for young players and Robbie Keane was the best one that I saw.
But then Lippi left, and let’s just say the new gaffer didn’t like Robbie all that much. He ended up playing just 6 games for Inter, and joined Leeds for £12 million – what a waste of £7 million and two years’ wages!
6. Robbie Keane – Tottenham to Liverpool, £20.3 million
What is it with Robbie Keane? £70 million was spent on him in transfer fees during his whole career, and over a quarter of that was from this deal – in the summer of 2008 Liverpool ‘unsettled’ Keane, before bidding for him for £20.3 million. Spurs accepted this offer, and Keane became a Liverpool player (funny how lots of transfer flops involve LFC). But Keane played just 19 games, scoring 7, before Spurs made an approach to buy him back in January. Liverpool sold Keane – but for £8 million less than they bought him for! £8 million for 7 goals works out at nearly £1.15 million per goal! How pricey…
7. Jonathan Woodgate – Newcastle to Real Madrid, £13.4 million
Spanish newspaper Marca called this transfer the worst signing of the 21st century – with 93 years left of the century! Thought to be fair it doesn’t get a lot worse than this! Signed in 2004, Woodgate was out for over a year through injury, so didn’t play for that whole time! And when he did make his much-anticipated debut, he scored an own goal and then got sent off! He then went on to make only 8 more league appearances for Real, but made a lot more appearances at the local hospital!
His fairytale ended with him being loaned out to Middlesborough. And they all lived happily ever after by replacing Woodgate with Ronaldo.
8. Ali Dia – Free Agent to Southampton, free
In 1996, Southampton manager Graham Souness received a call from someone claiming to be former World Player of the Year George Weah, who told Souness about ‘his cousin’ Ali Dia, who was a Senegalese international and had played for PSG.
Dia was signed on a one-month loan.
Later, it emerged that it wasn’t Weah on the phone, Dia wasn’t his cousin, nor was he an ex-PSG player or a Senegalese international. In fact, he wasn’t very good at football at all! But that didn’t stop Dia making a Premier League appearance against Leeds! Did extended his football career for another year by making 8 appearances for Gateshead, but let’s face it, if you can’t become a first team regular at Gateshead then you aren’t very good at all.
9. Joleon Lescott – Everton to Man City, £24 million
Man City are the kings of transfer flops – Negredo, Jovetic, Jo, Santa-Cruz, even Robinho, but Lescott tops it all. TWENTY FOUR MILLION POUNDS FOR A CENTRE BACK! That is ridiculous by any standards, especially if that centre-back happens to be Joleon Lescott. In his first season, he was relatively successful partnering Kompany, but Man City went and did what Man City do – buy more! Matija Nastasic was brought in and suddenly Lescott was on the fringes. Injury problems meant that he spent the next few years a £24 million bench warmer, and for all their money City got one average season before demoting him to the bench.
Though for a rich guy like Sheikh Mansour, you could probably find £24 million down the back of his sofa if you looked well enough.
10. Roberto Soldado – Valencia to Tottenham, £26 million
And let’s end off with another failed striker, this time from Spain. Gareth Bale had just joined Real Madrid for a record amount, so Spurs needed some goals in their team. Step forward, Roberto Soldado! No? You kidding me? He only got 16 goals in two years? Daniel Levy, what where you thinking mate?
That’s right, Soldado got just 16 goals in 76 games, compared to 76 goals in 128 games at Valencia. And, out of just 7 Premier League goals (just 7!), 4 were penalties! In both seasons, he had goals per game of 0.21, and 0.04 respectively. Fail!
In the end, he went back to Spain where he has been OK for Villarreal, but will go down in history as the player who could only score penalties for Tottenham Hotspur