The 15 Worst Transfer Moves on the Back of World Cup Performances
After impressing at the World Cup, your club buys a player who looks like the real deal. The season starts and you're genuinely excited until, after a few dreadful appearances, you tell your friends that he "probably just needs a few games to bed in."
Except, it never happens. A waste of money has replaced what looked like a world-class talent and the player is swiftly shipped out.
But which footballers—who were stars for their respective World Cup nations—turned out to be the worst buys at club level?
Over the next 15 slides we find out.
Arranged in chronological order, we work our way from Alberto Tarantini's 1978 move from Boca Juniors to Birmingham City—right up to David Odonkor's 2006 switch from Borussia Dortmund to Real Betis.
Read on for more!
Alberto Tarantini: Boca Juniors to Birmingham City
Type the name Alberto Tarantini into a search engine and, chances are, the results will yield a cornucopia of results—in which the Argentinian World Cup-winning international is branded a flop.
This list is no different.
In 1978 he was signed by Birmingham City on the back of his performances on home soil with La Albiceleste.
After making just 23 starts and scoring one goal for the St Andrew's side, Tarantini's career in England was cut short when he punched one of his club's own fans at a game. As recounted by the Birmingham Mail's Brett Gibbons in 2012:
He won 61 caps for Argentina but is best-remembered for wading into the crowd at Blues and punching a heckler. He also flattened Manchester United's Brian Greenhoff during a feisty on-pitch confrontation.
Tarantini left Blues to return to Cordoba in Argentina after just a year in the UK.
He also played for Bastia and Toulouse in France, but a lack of discipline and love of nightlife curtailed his career.
Daniel Amokachi: Club Brugge to Everton
Daniel Amokachi shone for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup. Remembered mostly for this thundering strike scored against Greece, he looked every inch the star striker.
His strong, rampaging runs earned Amokachi the nickname of "The Bull" and, according to rumours on BBC Sport, the goal against Greece was what won him a transfer to the Premier League.
After signing for Everton, the Nigeria international struggled to cement a place in the starting team, with Duncan Ferguson and Paul Rideout preferred by manager Mike Walker and later, Joe Royle.
After a brief high of winning the FA Cup with Everton in 1995, Amokachi joined Besiktas two years after arriving at Goodison Park.
Oleg Salenko: Logrones to Valencia
If you ever wanted to mount a challenge to the idea that the World Cup is a great shop window for new talent, Oleg Salenko would make the perfect poster boy.
At USA '94 the Russian striker scored once against Sweden and then put away five goals in one game against Cameroon. His six goals saw him share the Golden Boot award with Hristo Stoichkov.
On paper, it's easy to see why Valencia were interested in signing Salenko that summer, and he put pen to paper with the side in the weeks following the tournament.
But over the course of just one season at the Mestalla, the Russian failed to impress and was shipped out to Glasgow Rangers exactly 12 months after arriving in Spain.
Cobi Jones: FC Koln to Coventry City
Cobi Jones played a part in each of the United States' games at USA '94 before featuring for the entirety of their final 16 exit against Brazil.
The tournament hosts may have been knocked out of the competition, but Jones had obviously done enough to impress those watching overseas and earned himself a move to Coventry City.
Jones started as an ever-present in Phil Neal's side until his performances started dwindling towards the second half of the Premiership campaign.
In the final 10 games of the 1994/95 season, Jones made just two starts for the side, now managed by Ron Atkinson.
In July 1995, he joined Brazilian outfit Vasco de Gama before joining LA Galaxy in 1996. Jones went on to win a hatful of silverware with the Galaxy, where he became a bona fide club legend.
Ilie Dumitrescu: Steaua Bucharest to Tottenham Hotspur
Ilie Dumitrescu was signed for £2.5 million by Tottenham Hotspur in the weeks following USA '94, in which he had scored twice.
Arriving in the same summer as Jurgen Klinsmann, it looked like Spurs would have great attacking options, with Klinsmann, Dumitrescu, Nick Barmby and Teddy Sheringham up-front.
Dumitrescu's Spurs career started quite brightly. As part of the side's five-pronged attack, which became known as the "Famous Five," he was written about in glowing terms, as reported by Glenn Moore in the Independent.
However, a bad run of form for Spurs saw manager Ossie Ardiles lose his job in October 1994. Dumitrescu fell out of favour with his replacement, Gerry Francis, and the Romanian was sent out on loan to Sevilla.
Dumitrescu returned to White Hart Lane for the 1995/96 campaign but—his playing career already in decline—he failed to make an impact, appearing in just eight Premier League ties all season.
Dumitrescu struggled to be signed by West Ham in February 1996, where work permit problems threatened to derail his career in England, as reported by Glenn Moore and Trevor Haylett in the Independent.
He made 10 appearances for the Hammers, and by July 1996, he left to join Club America.
Borislav Mihailov: Botev Plovdiv to Reading
Borislav Mihailov captained the Bulgaria side that raised more than a few eyebrows at USA '94.
With Hristo Stoichkov on fire up front with six tournament goals, the Bulgarians made it as far as the semi-finals, eventually finishing in fourth place.
The goalkeeper did not get his move to England until 1995, but Reading's decision to sign him as a replacement for Shaka Hislop is likely to have been inspired by Mihailov's outings at both the 1986 and 1994 World Cups.
However, the Bulgarian's stint with Reading did not go well—partly for rather amusing reasons. As Harry Pearson wrote in the Guardian in 2002:
One of Bulgaria's stars of USA 94 and Euro 96, Borislav Mihailov, did have a spell with Reading where his confidence was severely undermined by constant press speculation as to whether he was wearing a wig or not.
Elsewhere, in magazine When Saturday Comes, Roger Titford wrote in 2005:
After his final injury both he and the club were delighted to pay up the contract and part ways without animosity. Today in Bulgaria some keen fans seem unaware of this two-year interlude in the life of a national hero. But in Reading, he never amounted to more than a local zero.
Robert Jarni: Real Betis to Coventry City
Robert Jarni's performances at France '98 won him the admiration of Coventry City. The Croatian—who appeared in all seven of his country's games, en route to finishing in third place—was quite the star signing for the Sky Blues, who paid £2.6 million for his services.
The only problem was, he never kicked a ball for Gordon Strachan's side and was sold on to Real Madrid just one month later.
The move never worked out as intended, but at least Coventry could charge a tidy £3.4 million for Jarni's sale.
Javier Margas: Universidad Catolica to West Ham
Javier Margas' move to the Premier League did not go as smoothly as anticipated.
The Chilean was signed by West Ham from Universidad Catolica in July 1998, on the back of his impressive outings at the World Cup.
In his first season at Upton Park, he made three top-flight appearances for the Hammers. However, a knee injury, coupled with family problems and homesickness, saw Margas go missing.
As reported in the Irish Independent: "West Ham thought they had lost the World Cup defender who cost £2m a year ago when he was injured and went back to Chile during an unsuccessful first season in England because he was homesick."
Margas did return to the club, where he went on to make 23 further appearances for Harry Redknapp's side. However, he will always be remembered as the World Cup player who went AWOL (and had really, really bad hair).
Denilson: Sao Paulo to Real Betis
After appearing in every game of the 1998 World Cup with Brazil and, as winner of the 1997 Confederations Cup Most Valuable Player award, the Sao Paulo winger was one of the most exciting young players around.
Signed by Real Betis for a world record-breaking fee of £21.5 million, it looked like Denilson was going to be a hit at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
However, perhaps it was the price tag that hung heavy around his neck, but things did not turn out as planned. Denilson struggled to become a regular starter, and in his second season with Betis, the club were relegated into the Segunda Division.
The Brazilian returned to Flamengo on loan before returning to Betis in January 2001. The club were promoted back into the Primera Division, but Denilson was sparingly used—most often as a substitute.
A World Cup-winner in 2002, Denilson went to Bordeaux on a free transfer in 2005.
Agustin Delgado: Necaxa to Southampton
Technically, it wasn't his performances at a World Cup finals that got him a big-money move to the Premiership in 2001.
However, Agustin Delgado's incredible prolificacy in front of goal in Ecuador's World Cup 2002 qualifiers made Southampton sit up and take notice.
En route to helping La Tri qualify for their first-ever finals, Delgado registered nine goals. This bagged him a move to the south coast of England for a fee of £3.5 million.
Unfortunately, hit by injury, Delgado was restricted to just 11 appearances for the Saints, and the striker was also unable to feature at the 2002 World Cup.
He was sold on to Ecuadorian side Aucas in March 2004.
El Hadji Diouf: Lens to Liverpool
On May 31, 2002 Senegal shocked World Cup holders France with a 1-0 win on the opening day of the tournament.
A day later, it was announced that Liverpool had signed the African Footballer of the Year, El Hadji Diouf, on a five-year deal.
Although he wasn't signed directly on the back of his exploits in Japan and South Korea, Reds fans had reason to get genuinely excited about their new buy as he turned in some excellent performances en route to Senegal's eventual exit in the quarter-finals.
However, the promising World Cup star turned out to be quite the flop.
Diouf scored a brace in his second Premier League game for Liverpool before going on a barren stretch until March, where he registered just one more. The following season Diouf did not find the back of the net once in 26 top-flight appearances.
The Senegalese striker was eventually sold on to Bolton Wanderers in August 2004, having made 69 appearances (in all competitions) for Liverpool.
Diouf will be best remembered for spitting at a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup tie at Celtic Park.
Salif Diao: Sedan to Liverpool
El Hadji Diouf was not the only dubious buy made by Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier in the summer of 2002. Step forward, Salif Diao.
After impressing for Senegal, who made it as far as the quarter-finals in their first World Cup, Diao was snapped up by Liverpool on July 1.
After being shunted around in a number of positions, Diao played at centre-back, full-back and in his favoured centre-midfield but failed to make an impact at Anfield under Houllier. In his second season at the club, the Senegalese made just three appearances in the Premier League.
When Rafa Benitez came in as manager, Diao fell even further down the pecking order—before being eventually shipped out on loan to Birmingham City in January 2005.
In total, Diao was on Liverpool's books for five years. In that time he made just 61 appearances and scored three goals and went out on loan to Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Stoke City before the Potters acquired him on a free transfer in 2007.
Kleberson: Atletico PR to Manchester United
He may not have put pen to paper with Manchester United until July 2003, but it was Kleberson's performances at the 2002 World Cup that attracted the Old Trafford side.
Upon signing, the then-24-year-old told BBC Sport:
To be the first Brazilian to sign for United is special. This is the biggest opportunity of my life. I had offers from other clubs but they weren't Manchester United. What I promise the fans is to give my all on the pitch from the outset.
Two injury-hit seasons followed, and the World Cup-winning midfielder managed just 26 appearances for United, before being sold on to Turkish side Besiktas in the summer of 2005.
Andreas Isaksson: Rennes to Manchester City
Andreas Isaksson was signed by Manchester City in August 2006, following his four World Cup appearances for Sweden. The Swedes had made it to the final 16 where they were beaten by Germany, the tournament hosts.
David James had departed for Portsmouth and City were in need of a new goalkeeper. As an international and at £2 million, Isaksson looked like a decent bargain.
However, with injuries keeping him on the sidelines, the Swedish stopper did not make his first appearance for Stuart Pearce's side until December when he replaced Nicky Weaver in the derby against Manchester United.
His next Premier League performance eluded him until February, and he went on to make just 12 more appearances that season.
In 2007/08, Isaksson was an ever-present with Sweden yet only a bench warmer at City, where he made just five top-flight outings all term. To add insult to injury, Isaksson's last game in a City shirt was an 8-1 mauling at the hands of Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.
In July 2008, he was sold on to PSV Eindhoven.
David Odonkor: Borussia Dortmund to Real Betis
Speedy German winger David Odonkor attracted Real Betis' attentions during the 2006 World Cup.
The Borussia Dortmund man had made four appearances for Jurgen Klinsmann's side during the tournament, in which Germany finished in third place.
After signing for La Liga side, Odonkor was hit hard by injury and was ruled out for three months, as seen on Skysports.com.
Odonkor made just 13 appearances for Betis during 2006/07, and the following three seasons were largely disrupted by injury.
By the time he went back to Germany in 2011, to join second-division side Alemannia Aachen, Odonkor had played just 52 games (in all competitions) for Betis.