Yesterday, I considered the best Premier League signings of the season.
But as any football fan will know, there are more than enough bad deals going about to make the game interesting (and kind of hilarious).
So let’s now look at the 10 worst signings of the 2011-2012 Premier League season—and, as usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
When Arsene Wenger picked up Park Chu-Young from AS Monaco last summer, many were predicting him to be a solid acquisition for Arsenal.
Giving him the No. 9 shirt could have been a media ploy of sorts, but all the signs pointed to a talented striker who would play an important role, even if not as a starter every week.
Fast forward nine months, and the Park transfer has attracted plenty of criticism and questions.
He hasn’t even been given a chance at the first-team level, despite showing glimpses of quality—including an expertly taken finish against Bolton in the Carling Cup—on his rare outings.
Truly a baffling transfer.
Fresh from a top-scoring season for FC Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie, Bryan Ruiz arrived at Craven Cottage with a hefty reputation.
The fact that Fulham, usually operating on a tight budget, shelled out a generous £10.6 million to sign Ruiz merely added to the expectation.
Nine months on, it’s fair to say that it hasn’t worked out.
While he has displayed his undoubted skill on the pitch, he has failed to gel with his teammates, and stars like Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Pavel Pogrebnyak have deservedly shone in his place.
A mere two goals in 30 appearances says everything we need to know about Ruiz’s signing.
Former Blackpool talisman Charlie Adam is only the first of three Liverpool signings to make this list, which reflects just how poor Kenny Dalglish’s transfer record has been.
After a roller-coaster season with Ian Holloway’s Blackpool, where Adam notched 12 goals in 34 appearances and made a name for himself as a set-piece specialist, Liverpool made their interest public even in January 2011.
When they finally secured his signing last summer, he was tipped to be the midfield playmaker capable of providing a whole new facet to the Reds’ attacking play.
But not only has he failed to deliver on his set-piece deliveries, he has proven to lack the speed of thought, composure and mentality to play for Liverpool.
Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise when he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury in April.
When Tony Fernandes jetted into Loftus Road with his megabucks, he immediately set to work trying to secure players capable of preserving QPR’s Premier League status.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was brought in for £2.5 million, a signing whose top-level experience and individual skill was supposed to help QPR greatly, even take them to the next level.
Thirty-one appearances and no goals later, he has proven to be just one of many misguided transfers for QPR.
His fall from grace has been so dramatic that he’s even lost his first-team place in Mark Hughes’ team as they battle to save themselves from relegation.
Like the case of Bryan Ruiz, sometimes a player’s transfer is seen as that much worse considering the context of his arrival.
Aston Villa’s Charles N’Zogbia has been an undoubted disappointment in his first season at Villa Park.
He arrived at Villa with much fanfare, after his starring role in Wigan’s ultimately successful fight to stay in the Premier League in 2011.
With Ashley Young leaving for Manchester United and Stewart Downing for Liverpool, N’Zogbia’s transfer was first seen as a coup, and then as a vital move to ensure Villa’s competitiveness.
And how has he repaid them?
With a mere two goals from 30 league appearances, and plenty of generally subpar performances.
When Jordan Henderson made a name for himself at Sunderland, everyone saw that he had the potential to play for a big club eventually.
That he was made captain of the England U-21s, and that he was capped for the senior national team in 2010 was testament to his potential.
Then a £20 million move to Liverpool took place, and suddenly, he doesn’t seem all that much anymore.
Lacking the pace, dribbling and crossing as a right winger, the shooting and passing as an attacking midfielder, and the tackling and positioning as a central midfielder, Henderson has been used in a variety of positions by Kenny Dalglish this season, and all to little effect.
A perfect example of overpaying for young British prospects—but luckily he still has time on his side.
When Birmingham were relegated in 2011, their central defenders attracted major attention from all over the Premier League.
Scott Dann reportedly drew admiring glances from Liverpool and Arsenal, and when he eventually signed for Blackburn, it was seen as a major achievement by Rovers.
Now, it is seen as a masterstroke on the part of Liverpool and Arsenal.
His at-times hapless defending has been a reflection of Blackburn’s season as a whole, and he failed to step into the breach when erstwhile man-mountain Christopher Samba departed Ewood Park for Anzhi Makhachkala’s millions.
Birmingham could well be playing in the Premier League next season. Dann won’t be seeing his former club there.
Romelu Lukaku’s £18 million switch to Chelsea should surely rank as one of the most perplexing transfers of all time.
When the young Belgian striker decided to leave Anderlecht for Stamford Bridge, it was seen as a natural progression for a striker destined to emulate Didier Drogba’s achievements in the European game.
Other starlets like Kevin de Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois were also signed, but were immediately loaned to other clubs to continue their development, but not Lukaku.
Instead, Lukaku has wasted an entire season on the bench (and most of the time not even), with Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba continuing to occupy the striking berths, and Daniel Sturridge stepping up as a young Premier League force.
Where does Lukaku go from here? Perhaps Drogba’s mooted summer exit might finally pave the way for the youngster who grew up idolizing him.
The third Liverpool summer signing on this list, Stewart Downing has the potential to become one of the biggest flops in Anfield history.
After an impressive last season at Aston Villa, Downing arrived at Liverpool with a reputation as one of England’s best wingers, despite an overinflated transfer price of £20 million.
Due to his crossing ability, he was hailed as the last puzzle piece in the Liverpool jigsaw, the signing to unlock Andy Carroll’s potential.
With zero goals and zero assists in all of 35 league appearances, he has been more underwhelming than Anfield’s last great wing flop, El-Hadji Diouf, who did record two assists in 25 appearances in the 2003-2004 season.
Epitomizing Liverpool’s wastefulness and profligacy in front of goal this season, Downing has not shown the pace, dribbling, creativity and mentality to succeed at Liverpool week in, week out.
If Kenny Dalglish loses his job at the end of the season, Downing should also be worrying about his own Anfield future.
The winner of the Worst 2011-2012 Premier League Transfer award, however, must go to Roger Johnson.
As part of Birmingham’s much-vaunted central defensive partnership alongside Scott Dann, Johnson arrived at Molineux for a club-record fee, and was promptly made captain by then-boss Mick McCarthy.
To underperform and lead his Wolves side to relegation form is already bad enough.
So while he hasn’t proved to be the biggest flop in terms of pure monetary value, his attitude must land him the unwanted title of worst transfer of the season.
You might have noticed that none of the players on my list were signed on free transfers.
The likes of Jay Bothroyd and Kieron Dyer (both QPR) have been quite terrible in hindsight, but they have been saved by the fact that they arrived for free, and thus the expectations on them can be mildly adjusted.
What do you think? Did I pick the 10 worst signings, or do you think some others should have made the list? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in my 10 Best Signings and EPL Team of the Year. Please also check out my writer’s profile, where you can find more of my work, and my blog, The Red Armchair, for Liverpool match reactions and opinions.