11 Footballers Who Were the Biggest Wastes of Money

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2013

11 Footballers Who Were the Biggest Wastes of Money

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    When it comes to football money is the name of the game. Every single club can claim that they are where they are at today because of decisions made in the past.

    For the most part, clubs have always made wise decisions on how to spend their euros, pounds and dollars. But there have always been those select few transfers that just did not work out at all.

    This article will take a look at the 11 biggest wastes of money in football. The list is in no specific order and certainly does not cover every ill-fated attempt at a big signing.

    Whether you refer to them as flops or lemons, these players are notorious for having the biggest sums of money wasted on their services.

Andriy Shevchenko

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    From AC Milan to Chelsea: £30.8 million (€43.8 million)

    After being an absolute star at Dynamo Kyiv and AC Milan, Chelsea spent big bucks to bring Andriy Shevchanko to Stamford Bridge, a move that will go down as a huge waste in the long run.

    The Ukrainian legend scored 14 goals in his first season and eight in his second year, but injuries and a severe dip in form saw the striker rarely in the starting lineup.

    Shevchenko was shipped back to Milan on loan after two seasons in England and finished his career at Dymano Kyiv.

    At the time of his purchase, Shevchenko was the most expensive player ever bought by an English club. He certainly was not worth the price.


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    From Sao Paulo to Real Betis: £21.5 million

    The original Robinho.

    Denilson was a Brazilian starlet who was the world’s most expensive player when Real Betis purchased him in 1998. However, the story would end in misery for both player and club.

    His second season with Betis saw the Spanish club relegated and Denilson loaned back to his boyhood Sao Paulo. He eventually returned to Spain but was never an integral part of the squad.

    From 1998 to 2005, Denilson competed in 186 matches for Real Betis but only scored 13 goals. For a world-record purchase, the Brazilian was nothing if not a waste.

Andy Carroll

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    From Newcastle to Liverpool: £35 million

    When Liverpool went all-in on Andy Carroll, the football world was in shock. Not only was the striker not worth the hefty price, he did not silence the critics either.

    Andy Carroll is the most expensive British player of all time but never earned such a title. In only 44 appearances for Liverpool, the striker scored a mere six goals.

    He was quickly sent out on loan to West Ham and will likely go down as one of the biggest flops Premier League history.

Nicolas Anelka

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    From Arsenal to Real Madrid: £22.3 million

    The French attacker joined Real Madrid as a record signing for the Spanish club at the time. Paying such a high fee for a 19-year-old was unheard of at the time, and it is easy to see why.

    Anelka played in only 19 matches for the Spanish giants, scoring two goals. After spending one season warming the bench, the promising striker was sent back to his boyhood club, Paris Saint-Germain.

    Nicolas Anelka did go on to have a very successful footballing career, but the business conducted by Real Madrid was an utter failure.

Juan Sebastian Veron

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    From Lazio to Manchester United: £28 million

    From Manchester United to Chelsea: £15 million

    In 2001 Juan Sebastian Veron became the most expensive transfer in English football when Manchester United broke the bank for the midfielder.

    After only 51 appearances and 11 goals, Veron was shipped off to Chelsea, who also overspent on the player. The Argentinian spent one season at Stamford Bridge and was quickly sent back to Italy.

    Veron may go down as one of the biggest wastes of money in football history. Not only were his statistics poor, but his overall play was never at the level that led anyone to believe he was ever worth such a big sum.

Dmytro Chygrynskiy

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    From Shakhtar Donetsk to Barcelona: €25 million

    Arguably the worst purchase in Barcelona history, the Ukrainian was just one of many terrible moves made by former manager Pep Guardiola.

    Chygrynskiy was thought to be a formidable defender able to play with the ball and provide aerial coverage for the back line. However, his ability never panned out, and the defender struggled to keep after.

    After just one season and a mere 14 matches, Barcelona sold the defender back to his former club for €15 million (a loss of €10 million overall).

Fernando Torres

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    From Liverpool to Chelsea: £50 million

    One year ago, Fernando Torres would have been the poster boy for wasted money. Today he still may be, but he is at least showing some promise that he could eventually work out in the long run.

    The former Liverpool star made the move to Chelsea in 2011, which shocked the football world.

    He became the most expensive player in English football history and was thought to make Chelsea one of the best clubs on the planet. But that notion has been put to rest for a long time.

    After 49 games in his first season, Torres had only scored 11 goals. Today, he has scored 15 goals over 82 matches. Torres could pan out, but right now he is still the headlining face of flops.

Robbie Keane

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    From Tottenham to Liverpool: £20 million

    The Irish striker made his way to Liverpool after several successful seasons at Tottenham. His arrival at the English club was thought of as a chance to show his absolute best, but the opposite happened instead.

    Keane spent only six months at Anfield before being sent back to his former club. Liverpool lost a great deal on the transfer of Robbie Keane, including the world-class striker they thought they would be receiving.

    The striker was a huge waste of money for Liverpool seeing as he only played in 19 games and scored a dismal five goals.

Alberto Aquilani

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    From Roma to Liverpool: €20 million

    After Real Madrid purchased Xabi Alonso, there was a giant hole in the Liverpool midfield. Rafa Benitez turned to Italian starlet Alberto Aquilani for a huge price and was greatly disappointed.

    Injuries played a big role in the saddening career of Aquilani in England. The Italian played in 28 games at Anfield but only scored two goals.

    The midfielder was never able to find his form or provide a decent cover for the departed Xabi Alonso. Aquilani was eventually sent back to Italy on loan, and Liverpool have never received anything back on their hefty investment.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    From Inter to Barcelona: €49 million plus Samuel Eto’o

    The purchase of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still seen today as one of the oddest moves in football history. Pep Guardiola sent away striker Samuel Eto’o plus a very large chunk of change for the Swede but never got a return.

    To be honest, Ibrahimovic’s time at Barcelona was successful if you look solely at his time on the pitch.

    The striker scored 16 goals over 29 matches and performed very well at the Catalan club. But his sour relationship with Guardiola and others forced the club to sell the striker after only one season.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to Barcelona is seen as a huge waste of money because of how little the club got in return when they decided to sell the striker to AC Milan for less than half of what they paid for him.

    At the end of the whole ordeal, Barcelona had lost two world-class strikers and €25 million with nothing to show for it.


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    From Real Madrid to Manchester City: €42.5 million

    Robinho is the face of football flops. The Brazilian left for Europe at a young age thought to be the future of football, but his talents never reached anywhere near the level all the hype claimed.

    When the forward was purchased from Real Madrid by newly rich Manchester City, it was seen as his last real chance to come through on his promise of greatness.

    Robinho played in only 53 games for the Manchester side, scoring 16 goals. He was soon sent out on loan to Santos before making a permanent move to AC Milan.

    So much money was spent on Robinho by several clubs. Had the hype been true, he would have rivaled world stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet Robinho lives as a shell of what could have been.

    The Brazilian is arguably the biggest waste of money in football history due to the fact that so many clubs took a chance on a sure thing that ended in disaster.


    Who is missing from this list? Who would you say is the biggest waste of money? Leave your thoughts and comments below.


    Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on world football.