Top 11 most expensive flops in Premier League history

The Premier League is easily the most marketable and followed football league in the world, with interest in England’s top division spanning across the nook and cranny of the globe.

Given its immense popularity, it stands to reason that brands fall over themselves in a bid to win sponsorship rights to clubs in the Premier League, as an endorsement by the biggest sides in the league leads to unlimited exposure to fans around the world.

This coupled with the crazy revenue gotten from Television coverage deals means that there is an abundance of cash available to Premier League clubs and teams in England generally spend more on transfers, with players usually eager to come to the Premier League due to the attractive wages on offer.

Since the official introduction and regulation of the transfer window in 2003, Premier League clubs have spent more than five billion pounds on player transfers in a bid to strengthen areas of weaknesses and augment their squad to achieve their aims.

Inflated markets and increased revenue means that transfer records are broken almost every year and in a bid to stay competitive, the biggest clubs are constantly spending more money to remain on par with their contemporaries.

While some of these big-money signings go on to achieve legendary status at their various clubs, there are others who for different reasons struggled to step up to the plate.

Here, in no particular order, we shall be having a rundown of 11 big-money signings who flopped massively in the Premier League.

Honorable mentions: David Bentley: Blackburn to Tottenham, £15m (2007), Alberto Aquilani: AS Roma to Liverpool, €20m (2009), Serhiy Rebrov: Dynamo Kyiv to Tottenham, £11m (2000)

Adrian Mutu: Parma to Chelsea, £15.8m(2003)

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After impressing with his form in front of goal in the Serie A with Inter Milan, Verona, and Parma, Chelsea signed Adrian Mutu for the sum of £15.8m.

This was the first summer with Roman Abramovich as the owner at Stamford Bridge and the former Romanian international was the maiden big-money signing by the Russian Oligarch.

It was expected that Mutu would help kickstart Chelsea’s ascent to the top-tiers of European football, but his career never really kicked off in London and he scored just six goals from 25 Premier League matches in his debut season.

The arrival of Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba the next season limited his game-time and which was exacerbated when he tested positive to the use of Cocaine which saw him banned for seven months.

He was transferred to Juventus in January 2005 and had a messy dispute with Chelsea over a contract breach allegation.

Roberto Soldado: Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur, £26m (2013)

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Tottenham made Roberto Soldado their most expensive signing when they bought him for the sum of £26m from Valencia in the summer of 2013.

The North London club are notorious for their frugality under Daniel Levy and it would have been disheartening for them to spend such an amount without getting the requisite performance from the Spaniard.

Soldado did not score from open play for over two months into his Tottenham career and ended his debut season at the club with just six goals from 28 Premier League matches, four of which were penalties.

He fared even worse in his second season as he was displaced by Harry Kane as the club’s star forward and he posted a return of just one goal from 24 Premier League games.

It came as not much of a surprise when he was sold back to LaLiga to join Villareal in 2015.

Robbie Keane: Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool, £20m (2008)

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Robbie Keane is the most potent striker in Irish footballing history and he had decent scoring spells with various clubs in Europe.

It was his performances with Tottenham from 2002 to 2008 that convinced Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez to sign him for the sum of £19m.

Things did not, however, go according to plan for Keane at Anfield and he struggled massively in front of goal which came as a major surprise, given that he had been banging goals for fun in the same league with Tottenham.

Just six months after his big-money move, Tottenham sought to bring Robbie Keane back to White Hart Lane and Liverpool sanctioned the move for £12m, which was eight million less than what they paid for him.

Robinho: Real Madrid to Manchester City, £32.5m (2008)

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Manchester City have seen a massive transformation in the last decade since their take over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008 and one of the very first signings the Oil magnate made was the purchase of Robinho from Real Madrid.

The Brazilian had been one of Europe’s premier talents and City went head-on with Chelsea in their pursuit of Robinho and the London side seemed destined to land him, only for the deal to take a U-turn right at the end, with City making him the most expensive Premier League arrival in history at that point.

So close to joining Chelsea was Robinho that during his unveiling at Manchester City, he stated his happiness at having ‘signed for Chelsea’ and perhaps this was a sign of things to unfold.

In ironic scenes, his first game for the club came in a 3-1 defeat to The Blues and despite scoring in the game from a delightful free kick, things never worked out well for Robinho and he departed Manchester permanently in 2010 after injuries and a loss of form hampered his second season.

Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio to Manchester United, £28.1 m (2001)

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Juan Sebastian Veron completed a mega move to Manchester United in the summer of 2001 for the sum of £28.1m, which was by far the highest amount any club had played for a player in the history of the Premier League.

The Argentine was one of the best-attacking midfielders in his heyday and he had impressed in the Serie A with Sampdoria, Parma, and Lazio.

Sir Alex Ferguson saw him as the missing link to help Manchester United consolidate on their Champions League win in 1999, but despite impressing on occasion (particularly on the continent), Veron struggled to come to grips with the more demanding and aggressive Premier League.

In strange scenes, Chelsea brought Veron’s Old Trafford nightmare to an end when they paid United £15m for his services in 2003, but the former Boca Juniors man also struggled for another injury-plagued season at Stamford Bridge.

Andriy Shevchenko: AC Milan to Chelsea, £30.8m (2005)

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Andriy Shevchenko was arguably the best striker of his generation and he burst into global consciousness when he helped Dynamo Kyiv make it to the semifinals of the Champions League in 1999.

This prompted a transfer to AC Milan and at San Siro, the former Ukrainian international took his goalscoring exploits to new heights, helping the Rossoneri to win the 2003 Champions League in addition to several domestic titles and for his efforts, he was rewarded with the 2004 Ballon d’Or.

Chelsea and Roman Abramovich came calling in the summer of 2006 and the sum of £30.8m was paid for his services.

Head coach Jose Mourinho reportedly did not want him and Shevchenko’s signing was seen by many to be a personal decision by Abramovic, but it proved to be a colossal waste of money, as he struggled for form and scored just nine goals from 47 Premier League matches across two seasons which was a far cry from the numbers he posted in Milan.

A return to Italy followed but he was not quite the same player and did not find the back of the net in 18 league games before one last ride with Dynamo Kyiv saw him get back to his scoring ways.

Angel di Maria: Real Madrid to Manchester United, £59.7m (2014)

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Angel di Maria played a crucial role in ending Real Madrid’s long wait for a 10th Champions League title and put in a man-of-the-match display in the 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final.

It, therefore, came as a major surprise when Los Blancos elected to let him leave for Manchester United soon after, even though the English giants paid a British record fee of £59.7m for his services.

Things began well enough for the Argentinian under Louis Van Gaal and he was voted as the club’s Player of the Month for September after scoring two goals and providing two assists in his first four games for the club. However, from then on, it went downhill for Di Maria and he failed to cement his stake in the starting lineup.

He was sold to PSG after just one season at Old Trafford and he has since rediscovered his form in the French capital.

Andy Carroll: Newcastle United to Liverpool, £35m (2011)

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In the immediate aftermath of Fernando Torres’ sale to Chelsea on deadline day in January 2011, Andy Carroll was snapped up by Liverpool from Newcastle United for the sum of £35m, making him the most expensive British footballer at the time.

He had starred in front of goal with Newcastle and was tipped to be the next big thing in English football, but things did not exactly pan to plan for the Tyne native.

Carroll was signed on the same day as Luis Suarez, but both men’s careers took very different trajectories at Anfield

While Suarez went on to become a Liverpool great, Carroll struggled and scored just six goals from 44 league matches for Liverpool across two seasons and the Merseysiders decided to count their losses and let him join West Ham for £15m in the summer of 2013.

He, however, failed to impress with the Hammers and is currently back at Newcastle United, and at 30 years, it is safe to say that Andy Carroll did not live up to the hype generated as a youngster.

Christian Benteke: Aston Villa to Liverpool, £32.5m (2015)

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Before Jurgen Klopp struck gold with the front partnership of Salah, Mane, and Firmino, Liverpool struggled to effectively replace Luis Suarez and Christian Benteke would go down as one of the worst buys of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool era.

The Belgian international impressed with Aston Villa and this prompted The Reds to splash the cash and bring him to Anfield as their second most expensive signing in the summer of 2015.

However, it was a spell to forget for Benteke, as he scored just 10 goals from 42 matches in all competitions. He was promptly sold to Crystal Palace after just one season, but it is unlikely that there are many  Koppites who miss him.

Michael Owen: Real Madrid to Newcastle, £16.8m (2005)

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Michael Owen is the last Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or and distinguished himself as one of the premier goalscorers of his generation, so it might seem strange to see him on a list of flops.

However, after starring with Liverpool, an ill-advised move to Real Madrid sent Owen on a downward spiral and after just one season in the Spanish capital, Newcastle United brought him back to England in a club-record deal of £16.8m.

A thigh injury sustained before the start of the 2005/2006 season set the precedent for the rest of his career and Owen spent the next four years at Tyneside mostly on the treatment table.

Despite earning a hefty sum in wages, Owen never really got going at Newcastle and could not stop their relegation at the end of the 2008/2009 season.

In total, Owen made just 71 appearances in four full seasons at Newcastle, scoring 26 goals and he incurred the wrath of fans of the club when he decided to leave for Manchester United after the Magpies’ relegation.

Fernando Torres: Liverpool to Chelsea, £50m (2011)

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Fernando Torres emerged as a prodigiously talented teenager at Atletico Madrid and was named club skipper at the tender age of 19.

He boosted his reputation further with stellar displays for Liverpool in four years and signed for Chelsea on deadline day in January 2011.

His £50m transfer was at the time the most expensive transfer in Premier League history, but the former Spanish international looked nothing like the player he was at Liverpool.

Torres scored goals for fun and tore defenses to shreds at Anfield, but at Stamford Bridge, he was a shadow of himself and missed gilt-edged chances which should have been converted in a heartbeat previously.

He went over 10 matches and 903 minutes before he got his debut goal for Chelsea and this set the template for what was to follow and Torres ended his Chelsea career with just 20 goals from 110 Premier League matches before his loan transfer to AC Milan.

Ume Elvis

157 articles

Ardent football fan and one of the best footie writers you'll find anywhere on the net.


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