Worst 20 Signings in European Football so Far This Summer
Plenty of clubs have hit the ground running in the summer transfer market, looking to make additions to their squad ahead of the 2014-15 season.
While some of those signings are expected to be exciting or even merely average but to serve a purpose, some can be seen as extremely dubious signings at present due to the player's quality, transfer fee or form over the past couple of seasons.
Here are perhaps the 20 worst of the summer so far—though every manager (and player themselves, of course) will be hoping their new charges go on to prove us very wrong.
Starting in the English Premier League, Aston Villa have captured the free transfer arrival of Philippe Senderos.
The Swiss centre-back is experienced, knows the top flight in England well and was at the World Cup this summer with his nation.
Unfortunately none of that experience and knowledge of the big international stage has shown him to have eradicated the issues that have plagued his game since he was a youngster breaking through at Arsenal. He alternates between rock solid and completely error-prone, and Aston Villa don't have that much room to spare at the bottom of the table.
Sorry, Villa fans.
Joe Cole is an abysmal signing, even if his wages are significantly lower than at his last few clubs.
The former scheming midfielder is now more a wide ball-winner, huffing and puffing down the touchline, rather than a creative genius.
He hasn't impacted tremendously on a Premier League game in about four years and isn't going to start now at Villa Park. Playing on the counter-attack with pace down the wings...not exactly the ideal setup for Cole to thrive.
Rio Ferdinand has joined Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer, and while it seems as though it could be a deal to suit all parties, it could also go disastrously bad.
Ferdinand looked significantly off the pace at times last season, even against mediocre opposition forwards and not all of that can be put down to Manchester United's poor overall form.
QPR might be playing three at the back, which will allow Ferdinand to dictate and organise, probably from a very deep starting point, but there's no doubt he needs to pick up his levels of agility and consistency again or else it could be a very humbling campaign indeed.
Marvin Sordell was once, briefly, thought of as one of the newest young English forwards who could break into the Premier League and international setup.
He's managed 19 goals in the last three seasons, has never looked top-flight quality yet and spent last season on loan at Charlton Athletic.
Burnley have signed him to help spearhead their first season back in the Premier League.
Chris Baird never really cut it as a reliable full-back, so Fulham pushed him into a defensive midfield role in his final campaign with them.
Last season he ended up at Reading, where he could barely get a game in a six-month deal, before playing out the last two months of the campaign at Burnley.
Having also left them on a free transfer in summer, West Bromwich Albion have picked him up, giving the 32-year-old a one-year deal to replace the outgoing Billy Jones at right-back.
Enough of the free transfers—here's the inflated English market in full swing...in the Championship.
Relegated Fulham have splashed out a hefty £11 million on the 27-year-old forward, capped 11 times by the mighty Scotland.
£11 million. For a forward who will be 28 by the time the season starts and has never played in the Premier League. This is why teams shop abroad for so-called second-rate players.
Let's take a trip around Europe, starting in Germany.
Sebastian Rode is undoubtedly a fine central midfielder, but he is hugely unlikely to make a big splash at Bayern Munich this season.
Appreciating his ability to run with the ball, being an all-action style of central player and the fact he would do well within the right tactical setup...none of this applies to Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich midfield. He'll be wasted, ignored and underused—and none of that is Guardiola's fault.
Into Italy now, and Inter Milan signing Dodo from AS Roma has made it.
The left-sided player has the capacity to be far better than he has shown in Italy so far, but two things in particular make it a poor piece of business for Inter: firstly, the fact that he hasn't been extraordinary in his handful of games for last season's second place team.
And more importantly, the bizarre loan-to-buy agreement. Inter paid just over one million euro for the initial loan deal but will also pay close to a further €8 million...after his first appearance. So, beyond training ground time, there is little chance to evaluate whether Dodo will fit in with the club long-term and prove his ability on the pitch.
As soon as he features, Inter must pay up.
Across the other side of Milan, AC have signed Jeremy Menez from PSG.
It's not that he's a terrible player, Menez has his own skill set and when given the chance to play regularly and with freedom, he can impact on the final third.
But where does he fit in Milan's mismatched, underperforming side under a rookie coach? Is he the hard-working example of new players that Milan desperately need to get anywhere near back to the top of Serie A? Not likely. At all.
Urby Emanuelson, meanwhile, has departed AC Milan after a season where he managed 14 90-minute appearances throughout the league season.
Far from first choice either at full-back or further forward, Emanuelson does not appear to offer anything that Roma didn't already possess last season as they came second in the league.
Ashley Cole has joined at left-back and Emanuelson is nowhere near the level of most of Roma's midfield players, making it a strange choice of moves from the capital club all-round.
Somewhere along the line, Alvaro Morata's reputation has gotten far bigger than the reality of his current level of ability.
Yes, he possesses good movement and has a decent strike rate (a 20 percent conversion rate last season) but he is not a starting quality addition who will suddenly make Juventus far more competitive in the Champions League. Many of his appearances as sub for Real Madrid came late in games when they were chasing a winning goal, piling on the pressure and creating plenty of chances as the opposition sat back—and as striker, he was naturally in a position to see plenty fall his way.
Will he do the same game after game, 90 minutes after 90 minutes when his side are not as good as some of those they come up against in European competition?
It doesn't help that he's managed to get injured in almost his very first training session, either. 50 days out, already.
If Roma signing Emanuelson was strange, the arrival of Seydou Keita is downright unbelievable.
The Malian midfielder is no longer the rangy, aggressive player of old and at times with Valencia looked past capable of managing a full 90 minutes.
Aged 34, he adds nothing but perhaps additional depth to the Roma midfield.
Espanyol are the latest European club to put their faith in Felipe Caicedo, the Ecuadorian journeyman striker.
Despite being a powerful presence and a regular with his nation up front, Caicedo has simply never given any indication of being capable of delivering on a regular basis at club level.
Since leaving FC Basel in 2008 he has played for the likes of Manchester City, Sporting, Lokomotiv Moscow and Levante—13 goals in 2010-11 for the latter side was the only time he has hit double figures in a single league campaign.
Espanyol have now taken him on a free from Al Jazira.
Staying in Spain, former rich club Malaga have continued their restructuring for another trying season by signing Ivory Coast left-back Arthur Boka.
Aside from pace, he offers little to the defence in the way of reliability or good positional sense, and is in no way at all an upgrade on present incumbent Vitorino Antunes.
Boka is a squad signing at best, but an unimpressive one who won't help Malaga in their bid to return to the top half of the table.
FC Porto did splendidly well to land Oliver Torres on loan from Atletico Madrid for the season—but then followed that up by splashing over €11 million on Adrian Lopez.
A hard worker with a bit of acceleration and the capacity to play up front or on the flank, Adrian basically offers nothing exceptional that you might expect from a league-winning forward.
His finishing isn't top notch, the movement isn't always particularly proactive and he is very, very one-footed.
Still at Porto, Daniel Opare has been added at right-back.
Once vaunted as one of the biggest defensive prospects in European football, Ghanaian full-back Opare has not kicked on tremendously in his time in Belgium. Fast, compact and direct, he is still capable of looking promising...but he's also now 23 years old, a little beyond the "promising" stage.
With Danilo firmly established as the impressive right-back, it would be a surprise to see Opare get too much game time this year.
Even when David Luiz's signature for Paris Saint-Germain from Chelsea was confirmed, just a day after the World Cup kicked off, many onlookers where aghast at the French club paying what could be a total £50 million for him.
That reaction will only have increased tenfold after the public meltdown Luiz managed during the World Cup's latter stages, looking completely out of control as a "centre-back" and no doubt leaving PSG fans praying that Thiago Silva stays fit throughout the whole of 2014-15 to keep Luiz in check.
Then again, if PSG play Luiz in midfield—where he excelled against them in the Champions League last season—it could end up looking a snip...
Alexander Buttner was never likely to get much of a chance at Manchester United with Patrice Evra in place...and so it proved, playing less than 30 games in two seasons for the Red Devils.
He looked good at times going forward, driving to the byline and looking for cut-backs, but he was also ridiculously exposed and beaten in defence, never looking Champions League-standard and never managing to hit 10 league appearances in either of his seasons at the club.
Dynamo Moscow have seen fit to rescue him from Old Trafford—weeks before Evra also departed.
As a younger player, Manuel Fernandes was seen as a classy, elegant, creative midfielder who could dictate the flow of games and who could grow to be one of the more complete advanced playmakers around.
However, he never really got his game together consistently at Valencia, was let go on loan to Besiktas and has spent most of his permanent move there trying to recapture his once-heralded potential—and failed to make a very average Portugal squad for the World Cup.
Lokomotiv Moscow have taken him to the Russian Premier League now on a free transfer, but Fernandes has fallen off the football map in a big way and he'll not be anything like the sort of level that Loko need to push themselves toward being a title challenger next season.
Luuk De Jong
Our final name takes us to Netherlands, where Luuk de Jong has apparently ended his two-year jaunt around Europe and returned to the Eredivisie to try to find his scoring boots once again.
A 25-goal season in 2011-12 seems a long way away now for the Dutch forward, who moved to 'Gladbach in 2012 for €15 million.
He managed six goals there, none on loan with Newcastle last season and has now moved back to PSV Eindhoven for a third of that price tag—and even that looks as though it might be high, judging by his past 18 months.