Money, it can be both a gift and a curse. The Premier League has definitely benefited from it. Several top signings have been made possible by it. To choose the best signings is not easy, but it is equally difficult to find the worst ones, as the Premier-League clubs pay outrageous sums to acquire players who are useless, troublesome, or just plain stupid on the field.
Claudio Pizarro, Steve Sidwell, and Tal Ben-Haim (Bayern Munich, Reading and Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea).
It is never advised to include free signings in a list of this nature, but when three really abysmal ones are made by club which is one of the richest clubs in the world, we must raise our eyebrows.
It is understood that they were brought in to enhance squad depth, but to treat players possibly in their prime like this is laughable. Claudio Pizarro was a top striker in Bayern Munich. Fellow South American Roque Santa-Cruz has settled well at Blackburn Rovers after his summer move, Pizarro has followed Shevchenko's footsteps.
Steve Sidwell was possibly the best player at Reading last season. To be honest, nothing more can be said. With owner Roman Abramovich calling for sexy football, one of the possible ways for Sidwell to light up Stamford Bridge is by his ginger hair.
Tal Ben-Haim is the least affected of the trio. But he has looked very slow against far less illustrious opposition. He has failed to repeat the levels he had set at Bolton Wanderers. To make matters worse, fellow new signing Alex was settled and did a good job covering up for John Terry during his absence. But let's face it, he has to fight for places with Carvalho and Terry, so his oppurtunities have been few.
Even when fellow Israeli Avram Grant took charge, Ben Haim's first-team prospects did not change one bit, which has resulted in an outburst from him aimed at his already under-fire boss, which resulted in a cut of two weeks wages for him.
Robert Earnshaw (Norwich City to Derby County)
Derby have become so pathetic that finally boss Paul Jewell has accepted that his side do not belong in the premier league. A club-record fee of £3.5 million was spent on a striker who had proven himself in the lower leagues. What's ironic is the fact that both Billy Davies—who signed the 27-year-old—and his replacement Paul Jewell have decided against playing the Zambian-born Welshman (yup, it seems Wales has a Zambian population of nearly two: Earnshaw and his mother).
The Rams have long been destined to relegation, and as their ugly season draws to a close, let's face it: if ugliness is the problem, Earnshaw is not the solution.
Younes Kaboul (Auxerre to Tottenham Hotspur)
While bitter rivals spent £1 million less buying from the same club, what must turn out to be one of the signings of the season in Bacary Sagna, Tottenham got Kaboul. He is young, he has scored goals, he's named after a terror-zone—what's not to love?
Well, he can't defend. £7 million for the Moroccan-born French national was beyond excessive. Kaboul is looking to be very much surplus to requirements at the Lane, and could well be headed for the exit door as Juande Ramos plans his summer overhaul.
Rolando Bianchi (Reggina to Manchester City)
Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City revolution has been amazing. Yes, he has Thaksin Shinawatra's big, black sack of quite-possibly-laundered money to back him up, but he has spent fairly well, and has a good eye for talent.
Bianchi, though, just did not work out. Splashing out a sizeable £8.8 million to land the 25-year-old from Serie A relegation strugglers Reggina is questionable.
First off, he hates England. He's not the first, and certainly will not be the last, Italian to come to this country and despise it from top to bottom. He has been spared the embarrassment, because Sven made the smart move of offloading him at the first possible opportunity.
He has gone back to Italy on loan to an under-performing Lazio side, with whom he has made a good start. Assuming Sven does well enough to recover a significant amount of the original transfer fee come this summer, it will be business not-so-badly done on part of the Swede.
Diomansy Kamara (West Bromwich Albion to Fulham)
Has Lawrie Sanchez cost Fulham their place in the Premier League? The coach did a fantastic job in charge of Northern Ireland, and was head-hunted by Mohamed Al-Fayed to take over from Chris Coleman at Craven Cottage.
Cookie was constantly forced to sell while in charge of the club, while Sanchez was allowed to reap the benefits of his work by spending over £25 million in one summer. Most of it was spent on trying to re-unite all of Northern Ireland at the Cottage; a disastrous experiment that went horribly wrong.
Chris Baird in particular stood out as the white equivalent of Titus Bramble, for his consistent ability to make the worst of each and every situation.
However, the biggest money was splashed out on Diomansy Kamara—a man little more proven than Earnshaw, who cost almost twice as much—and he has failed to live up to his price tag.
Craig Bellamy (Liverpool to West Ham United)
If your budget can't quite buy consistency, that's one thing, but why anyone would willingly sign Craig 'nine iron' Bellamy given his track-record off the pitch, quite frankly beggards belief.
He is reported to have earned Liverpool an unbelievable £7.5 million—yes, they made a profit—despite enduring a hit-and-miss time at the top. Bellamy has always been erratic and inconsistent everywhere else. Bellamy has failed to pay back even a quarter of his transfer fee during his stay so far at Upton Park. He is the sole representative from the Hammers' summer signings, of which several were absolutely woeful.
Florent Malouda (Olympique Lyonnais to Chelsea)
On paper, it was logical. Chelsea offloaded Arjen Robben to Real Madrid, chaired by the eccentric Ramon Calderon, who had developed a fondness for the part-time Flying Dutchman.
They then brought in France international Malouda, who was a hero of the Lyon side that dominated Ligue 1. Though he is still a quality player in his own right, injuries, poor form and a rumoured distaste for the English appetite has made him be labeled a flop.
David Nugent (Preston North End to Portsmouth)
Why Harry, why? No doubt the 22-year-old was extremely prolific with lowly Bury and the Championship's Preston, but ultimately, commanding a fee of £6 million when all he was ever seemingly going to do was warm the bench is an astounding decision.
The Huyton-born striker's career highlight is being handed his first and only England cap by the clueless Steve McClaren, and in that solitary England appearance as a substitute against the mighty Andorra, he achieved the incredible feat of stealing a goal from his new teammate Jermain Defoe. Wonderful!
Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic to Tottenham Hotspur)
It must be said, it's not all his fault—but ultimately, he should have known better. Perhaps he anticipated that Dimitar Berbatov would be on his way out at White Hart Lane, but ultimately, he has spent most of his time on the bench. This after commanding a transfer fee in excess of £16 million.
It's laughable—that goes without saying. Though to his credit, he was the highest English scorer in the Premier League last season. Ultimately, it has been a waste of a year for the 24-year-old, and if he has any sense, he will follow Jermain Defoe out of White Hart Lane elsewhere, so he can play regularly and reap the same rewards as Defoe is now.
Joey Barton (Manchester City to Newcastle United)
One of my personal favorites to win this award. What a waste of space. Manchester City will have laughed all the way to the bank when they cashed in £5.8 million for this glorified thug.
In fact, I take that back—there's nothing glorious about him. He has scored just one goal, a last-minute penalty against Fulham, and has been lucky to escape suspensions for some of petulant acts on the field. He has spent about as much time in custody as he has in training.
It is time for you to decide deserves to be the worst of this lot.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!