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Sport and Fitness

Premier League’s 10 biggest transfer failures

Words by Nathan Irvine

These players faces appear next to the dictionary definition of 'flop'.

As the 2019 summer transfer window creaks open, we look back at the Premier League deals involving players that flopped.

A quick disclaimer first: we’re focusing on more recent transfers in the EPL. The ones that cost northwards of £24m (approx. AED 110m) to keep the list relatively current. So don’t expect to see super-flops such as Francis Jeffers (Arsenal) or Juan Sebastián Verón (Manchester United).

You’ll also notice a lot of the same teams popping up, too. Top six sides seem to love burning money on expensive benchwarmers.

From lowest to highest transfer fee, here’s a look at the Premier League’s 10 biggest transfer failures.



Roberto Soldado - Tottenham Hotspur - £26m

Roberto Soldado wearing Tottenham Hotspur kit.

Spurs broke their transfer record when they bagged the Spanish striker from Valencia. Having been prolific in the Primera Division, Soldado’s red-hot goal streak turned to ice and could only manage 16 in 76 games. By the end of his two year spell, Bobby was wandering around the pitch with the look of a man that’d witnessed a murder.


Wilfried Bony - Manchester City - £29m

Wilfred Bony wearing Manchester City kit.

It was a classic case of a big fish in a small pond with Bony. At Swansea, alongside forgotten man Michu, the Ivorian striker was the surprise package of the 2013/14 EPL season. A slew of goals bagged him a big money move to Manchester City… and the ignominy of being the laughing stock of their forward line. Six goals in 36 games wasn’t enough to convince new manager Pep Guardiola to keep him.


Christian Benteke - Liverpool - £33m

Christian Benteke wearing Liverpool kit.

On paper, everything was perfect for Benteke and Liverpool. Announced at the same time as Luis Suarez, the former Aston Villa man was set to form one of the most formidable strike-forces in world football. However, while the controversial Uruguayan chipped in with his fair share of goals, Benteke was anonymous by comparison. He reportedly fell out with Jürgen Klopp before heading to Crystal Palace.


Danny Drinkwater - Chelsea - £34m

Danny Drinkwater wearing Chelsea kit.

Much like the player himself, we forgot that Danny Drinkwater still plays for Chelsea. The midfielder won the Premier League title with Leicester City the season before his ill-fated move to London. Since 2017, Drinkwater has 12 appearances and one goal to his name at Chelsea. He may yet get a new lease of life under recently appointed manager, Frank Lampard.


Andy Carroll - Liverpool - £37m

Andy Carroll on all fours wearing Liverpool kit.

The Magnificent Ponytail™ is further proof that Liverpool and lanky strikers don’t work well together. There were flashes of brilliance from the 6ft 4″ striker. Notably scoring important goals such as his last minute header against Everton to take Liverpool to the FA Cup final. But Carroll, with his magnificent mane, turned out to be a donkey.


Shkodran Mustafi - Arsenal - £37m

Shkodran Mustafi wearing an Arsenal kit.

BBC Sport reporter, and trusted Gunners insider says “Arsenal have tried to sell Mustafi pretty much every window since they signed him”. Pretty damning, eh? The World Cup winning centre-back was supposed to plug the holes in Arsenal’s leaky defence, but seems intent in poking more in it. He has remarkable consistency in switching off at key moments that cost his team goals. No wonder Unai Emery is keen to jettison him soon.


Andrei Shevchenko - Chelsea - £40m

Andrei Shevchenko in Chelsea kit.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that, Andrei. Chelsea fans and casual observers of the Premier League were hot for Shevchenko to ply his trade in one of the toughest leagues in the world. Especially considering how he tormented Serie A defences with AC Milan. At first glance, it appeared Chelsea had actually signed the ghost of Andrei Shevchenko. His ineffectual approach in front of goal reeked of a player struggling with the price tag. Shame.


Eliaquim Mangala - Manchester City - £42m

Eliaquim Mangala wearing Manchester City kit.

Here’s an interesting fact about Mangala At the time of writing he still has a contract at Manchester City. He’s spent more time on loan at other clubs than he has in City’s backline, but the former Porto defender is, indeed, still a city player. Once tipped as the eventual replacement for Vincent Kompany, Mangala never quite got to grips with the pace of the Premier League.


Alvaro Morata - Chelsea - £60m

Alvaro Morata wearing Chelsea kit.

Morata wasn’t ready for the physical side of English football. No, sir. The former Real Madrid striker seemed absolutely dumbfounded after being dumped to the ground by his opposite number, only to see the ref wave play on. Every game. A back injury and murmurings of falling out with manager Antonio Conte saw him phased out of Chelsea, before a move to Atlético Madrid materialised.


Ángel Di María - Manchester United - £68m

Angel Di Maria wearing Manchester United kit.

To say he had a bad time in the Premier League would be an understatement. It was clear from the off that the former Real Madrid player’s heart wasn’t in the move to Manchester United. His inconsistency on the pitch was matched by his belligerence off it. If rumours are to be believed, in twelve months Di María fell out with almost everyone at the club and secretly agreed a deal with PSG without informing Manchester United. What a guy!

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