The Top 5 Worst Premier League Signings of the Season
As a follow-up to my piece that looked at the five best signings of the season in the Premier League, it's time to look at the other sign of the coin.
Which players have been the worst signings of the season?
This list applies only to players signed in the summer 2011 and January 2012 transfer windows. In other words, no Carroll and Torres.
Let's get this dirty business started.
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Robin van Persie may well be the best striker in the Premier League, but he can't do it all on his own.
With Marouane Chamakh appearing to have forgotten how to play football, let alone score goals, quite a few gooners were relieved to see Arsenal pick up a new striker in the last week of August last year.
Yes, the team he'd been playing for (Monaco) had just been relegated. But with a respectable 12 goals in 35 games, Park Chu-Young seemed like a perfect backup player to van Persie.
What, exactly, has happened with Park Chu-Young is anyone's guess. The facts are these: He has played approximately five minutes of Premier League football this season, despite not suffering any serious injuries.
Whether this was a panic-buy that didn't work out or whether Arsenal's scouting department simply got it badly wrong, the man from South Korea has been a terrible signing, contributing nothing to Arsenal.
Thankfully, he only cost about five million euros, so the gunners have not taken a huge financial hit. But that is money that could have gone on a better reserve striker, and which has been, ultimately, wasted.
Who knows what the future holds for him. One thing is almost certain: it's unlikely he'll be at Arsenal next season.
Roger Johnson and Scott Dann
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When Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2011 season, the reputations of their two centre backs, Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, somehow emerged relatively unscathed.
Both were relatively hot property during the summer transfer window, but both ended up at clubs that have struggled over the last few years.
Once at these clubs, they've shown that, in fact, there was a reason that bigger sides weren't interested in them: neither are very good.
Johnson, after being made captain, was not only dropped during the last few weeks, but he also decided to have a very public argument with his own goalkeeper on the field (see the picture above).
I have a little more sympathy for Dann, given that he suffered surely the most painful sporting injury that can befall a man: a ruptured testicle.
But he's still been a big part of a team that has shipped a huge amount of goals this season.
As it stands, both look set for back-to-back relegations. Perhaps they'd be better off just staying in the Championship this time around.
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Not so much a terrible signing, just a pointless one.
Hargreaves' injury problems are well documented, so it was a bit of a surprise when he was picked-up by Manchester City as the transfer window shut in August.
Since then, he's played for City four times, of which only one was a league appearance (and even then as a substitute).
With the news emerging yesterday that City will not be offering him a new contract in the summer, this could just be chalked up as a gamble that didn't pay off.
But really, it seems to harden the impression that City are a club being managed by people with more money than sense. Indeed, it seems vaguely unfair that they can afford to take gambles like this in the first place.
And if they do win the league this season, it won't be because of Hargreaves.
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If Alex McLeish had ever wanted to endear himself to Aston Villa fans, then signings like Alan Hutton were certainly not a way to go about it.
Hutton has not been terrible per se—just terribly mediocre.
He's been part of a defence that has leaked enough goals to drag Villa into a relegation scrap.
There were surely more talented right-backs out there than Hutton for Villa to buy, and McLeish showed a lack of imagination in picking up a fundamentally limited player.
Moreover, Hutton has shown a thuggish streak that has won him few fans. A dangerous challenge on Shane Long ruled the striker out for a number of weeks, while a series of impetuous challenges saw Hutton sent off in Villa's defeat to Arsenal in December.
This combination of mediocrity and violence earns him a place among the worst signings of the season.
Almost Everyone Liverpool Signed
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Liverpool signed so many poor players last summer, it's really too hard to single out one for particular criticism.
OK, they weren't all bad: Jose Enrique has justified his £6 million price tag (although that is perhaps to damn him with faint praise), Sebastian Coates looks a prospect, and Craig Bellamy has been a welcome re-addition to the squad.
It's the near £50 million spent on Stuart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson where the real pain starts.
In return for £20 million, Downing has contributed 0 goals and 0 assists. Henderson has one goal and one assist for £16 million. Adam's fee was at least more modest, and he has contributed two goals and six assists.
But those numbers are still less, put together, than the eight goals and eight assists that Theo Walcott has provided Arsenal with this year.
Liverpool's epic wastefulness in the transfer market, and in particular their penchant for over-priced and over-hyped British players, is the main reason they are languishing in the middle of the Premier League table rather than challenging for Champions League football or even the title.