20 Worst Premier League January Transfers
We're heading into the January transfer window, so here are 20 bad English Premier League signings.
If you're a Premier League director of football (Joe Kinnear, I know you're reading this), these 20 failed Premier League signings will serve as cautionary examples of what not to do this January for EPL clubs.
The list is ranked by how expensive the transfer fee was.
No list is exhaustive, so don’t hesitate to comment below with your own examples.
20. Dong Fangzhuo (Dalian Shide to Manchester United for £500,000; 2004)
When Manchester United signed Dong Fangzhuo, he was raw, lacked a track record in China and his ceiling for success was nowhere near as high as 2004 Asian Young Footballer of the Year nominees Park Chu-Young, Wang Dalei and Yusef Ahmed.
United paid Fangzhuo to be loaned out to Royal Antwerp, so what exactly was the point of signing him?
He was out of his depth when he played for the Chinese national team, and even a loose cannon like Mao Jianqing looked better than Fangzhuo.
The random signing of Fangzhuo foreshadowed the Bebe transfer.
19. Valerien Ismael (Strasbourg to Crystal Palace for £2.75 Million; 1998)
"For once, Valerien Ismael got his tackle in," per the BBC News in its match report of Crystal Palace suffering relegation.
Palace thought Ismael was their saviour, but he could not stop the club from going down.
He was sent back to France seven months later.
Ismael was their transfer record holder from 1998-2013, so Palace management thought they had found their version of Marcel Desailly.
Ismael would later restore his reputation in the Bundesliga by being named the seventh-best player in the 2003-04 season while playing for Werder Bremen.
18. Ricardo Rocha (Benfica to Tottenham Hotspur for £3.3 Million; 2007)
The Ricardo Rocha deal was a transfer Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy got completely wrong.
Rocha was a defensive liability, once clearing the ball straight to Everton's Leon Osman, who scored in a 3-1 win.
Rocha went from being in the Portuguese national team setup to one of the worst defenders in the league.
17. Franco Di Santo (Audax Italiano to Chelsea for £3.4 Million; 2008)
Was Franco di Santo set to become the Argentine Didier Drogba? Chelsea spent £3.4 million on an 18-year-old who was already playing professional football in the Chilean league.
He would go goalless in 16 games for Chelsea while spending most of his time in the reserves.
Spending £3.4 million for a reserve footballer is a waste of money, as the club could have just blooded one of their own prospects.
16. Jimmy Bullard (Fulham to Hull City for £5 Million; 2009)
Jimmy Bullard could score free-kicks, take penalties, was a sublime passer and has spent a bit of time in the England national team squad.
So leaving Fulham for Hull City was not a footballing decision, but if he felt his knees were about to give way, you can't really blame him for seeking one last big payday.
Hull were the ones who closed their eyes and prayed it would work out.
It didn't, and it cost them around £50,000 a week for an injury-prone player who loved to drink.
15. James Beattie (Southampton to Everton for £6 Million; 2005)
James Beattie scored more league goals for Southampton in the 2003-04 season (14) than he did in three seasons at Everton (13).
One reason why he failed was him not seeing eye-to-eye with then-Everton boss David Moyes, from The Daily Telegraph via Pete Allison at Sky Sports. Beattie explained:
Moyes said [to me], "I have accepted a bid from Sheffield United. I think it's time you moved on."
I wanted to stay and prove him wrong.
But, he made it clear in no uncertain terms that I wasn't going to play. I would have liked closure but it was left as "you're off, see you later."
I tried my best but wasn't getting a look-in. Coming from being the club's top scorer the year before to being Mr Nobody, and fifth in the pecking order for no apparent reason, was pretty harsh.
Nowadays, Beattie manages Accrington Stanley.
14. Georgios Samaras (Heerenveen to Manchester City for £6 Million; 2006)
Manchester City chose the wrong Eredivisie footballer.
Instead of signing Georgios Samaras, City should have gone for Feyenoord's Dirk Kuyt, one of the most lethal Dutch strikers at the time.
Perhaps City read too much into Samaras' match-winning double in a 4-2 win over Ajax.
City projected that he would turn into an elite footballer.
It never happened, and he struggled to score consistently in the Premier League (eight goals in three seasons).
13. Fernando Morientes (Real Madrid to Liverpool for £6.3 Million; 2005)
Fernando Morientes was on a 13-game goalless streak and had scored three times in 21 games for Real Madrid prior to moving to Liverpool.
What did then-Reds manager Rafael Benitez expect?
What he got was 12 goals in 61 games from Morientes.
12. Diego Forlan (Independiente to Manchester United for £6.9 Million; 2001)
In Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography, he wrote about Ruud van Nistelrooy's inability to combine with Diego Forlan: "Another striker who ran up against the problem of Ruud's singularity was Forlan, a grand player. Ruud wanted to be the No. 1 finisher. That was his nature. Diego Forlan didn't register on his radar at all, so when you put the two of them out there together, there was zero chemistry."
It would explain why Forlan started his Manchester United career with an 18-game goalless run.
He would later rebound post-United by winning two European Golden Shoes and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball.
11. Duncan Ferguson (Everton to Newcastle United for £7 Million; 1999)
Even a conviction for assault and questions over Duncan Ferguson's body being able to hold up did not dissuade Newcastle United from paying what was a hefty amount at the time for him, who was sold back to Everton a season-and-a-half later at a loss.
When he was back at Everton, he didn't live up to the billing.
"The basic truth is that since he came back to this football club he has done nothing but drain away resources," an Everton insider told Jamie Jackson at The Guardian.
10. Jean-Alain Boumsong (Rangers to Newcastle for £8 Million; 2005)
Rangers made an £8 million profit on a talented but wayward defender in Jean-Alain Boumsong.
In his first 10 league games for Newcastle United, he was part of a defence that kept two clean sheets and suffered four successive defeats.
His agent then somehow managed to get him employment with Juventus, Lyon and Panathinaikos.
9. Alan Hutton (Rangers to Tottenham Hotspur for £9 Million; 2008)
According to Scotland national team manager Gordon Strachan, Alan Hutton is a changed man.
When he played for Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, he lacked defensive nous, was caught out of position and was considered a burden.
This is why he was generally loaned out.
Spurs spent £9 million on a player who didn't even log 20 Premier League games, let alone 30 in one season.
8. Wayne Bridge (Chelsea to Manchester City for £10 Million; 2009)
If Manchester City were willing to pay Wayne Bridge £90,000 a week, City management should have known he would outstay his welcome.
He was paid train and go on loan to three different clubs.
Speaking to Neil Ashton at The Daily Mail, he painted a different image than someone earning easy money:
I feel I am letting my mum and dad down and they basically live for following me around and watching me play football.
I hate that my parents can't come and watch me or Frankie, who loves to watch football, can't come with her mum and dad.
It is like I am letting them down as well because they are so proud to see me out there playing. They have been really supportive.
7. Savio Nsereko (Brescia to West Ham for £10 Million; 2009)
Savio Nsereko is not one of Gianfranco Zola's greatest moments.
Clearly what happened was Zola being conned by one of his Italian contacts.
Savio lacked the ambition, did not look like a Premier League player and had issues off the field.
His transfer was so odd that West Ham United commissioned an investigation over how it happened.
6. Scott Parker (Charlton Athletic to Chelsea for £10 Million; 2004)
Chelsea took two seasons away from Scott Parker's career that he will never be able to get back.
Glen Johnson was at the club around the same time, and perhaps the Blues had planned on integrating English prospects into the starting XI, but it didn't pan out.
Both Parker and Johnson have enjoyed success post-Chelsea.
5. Christopher Samba (Anzhi to QPR for £12.5 Million; 2013)
"I still think that when he [Christopher Samba] is right and fit, he is up there with any central defender in the Premier League, but he was unfit when he came to us," Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp wrote in his autobiography. "After one very poor performance, his confidence completely fell apart."
Why weren't QPR aware of Samba's fitness issues?
Did they monitor his performances for Anzhi Makhachkala via scouting reports and statistical data?
These things seem simple, but given that they gave Jose Bosingwa—one of the worst players in the Roman Abramovich era—a salary that matched what world-class defenders earned, you're not quite sure if QPR did their research on Samba.
The drive Samba had shown at Blackburn Rovers was missing when he was at QPR.
4. Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough for £12.7 Million; 2008)
In hindsight, the whispers of Afonso Alves' attitude issues should have been taken more seriously.
He was petulant, he was narcissistic and, above all, very selfish on and off the field.
Yet for one glorious season at Heerenveen, Alves was one of the best finishers in Europe.
Middlesbrough looked at the mind-boggling numbers (48 goals in his last 48 games) and went all in.
He has since wasted the prime years of his career in the Middle East, strolling on to the field and earning obscene amounts of money while not being challenged.
He could have rectified his reputation by moving to another European club in an elite league, but he chose not to.
3. Andy Carroll (Newcastle to Liverpool for £35 Million; 2011)
Lesson One: Don't buy a limited English forward for £35 million.
Lesson Two: Don't buy him when he has injury issues.
Liverpool learned the hard way, and now West Ham United, a club that spent £15 million on Andy Carroll, are also wondering if it was worth it.
2. David Luiz (Benfica to Chelsea for £21.3 Million and Nemanja Matic; 2011)
In the League Cup defeat to Sunderland, one David Luiz moment summed up why he will never be a world-class defender at Chelsea for multiple seasons.
For whatever reason, once he puts on a Chelsea shirt, he is devoid of positional ability.
With Mark Schwarzer out of position, Luiz was on the near-post anticipating a shot from the right-footed Fabio Borini, who was shooting on a right angle.
The only way the ball was going to find the back of the net was through a gap.
Lo and behold, Luiz had his angles all wrong and kept his legs wide open.
Borini scores and Sunderland are back in the game. (They would later win it in extra time via Ki Sung-Yueng.)
Mistakes like this happens all the time with Luiz.
What makes the deal even worse is that Nemanja Matic is now worth more than £20 million.
So essentially, Chelsea paid Benfica around £41.3 million for a frustratingly inconsistent centre-back.
1. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea for £50 Million; 2011)
Fernando Torres was in decline in his last season for Liverpool, scoring nine goals in 26 games (his worst return in his Liverpool career).
Chelsea logic: Pay Liverpool £50 million for Torres, whose best game during a struggling season came against Chelsea.
Look at what Luis Suarez does for Liverpool and compare it to Torres at Chelsea.
Suarez scored more Premier League goals in 35 minutes against Norwich City (three; would finish the game with four) than Torres has done so far (two).