5 Worst Big-Money Premier League Transfers

Matt Clough@@MattJCloughFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2014

5 Worst Big-Money Premier League Transfers

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    With this summer shaping up to be one of the busiest—and most expensive—in Premier League history, it seems almost certain that one big-money signing will fail to live up to his billing.

    With more than £360 million spent in the first two months of the window, per BBC Sport, the figures serve to demonstrate an ever-increasing willingness by clubs to spend.

    Fees previously reserved for only the most monied teams in the world are now bandied about by clubs with mere mid-table aspirations.

    However, the 20 Premier League sides don't need to look too far into the past to find plenty of cautionary tales.

1. Andy Carroll: £35 Million, Newcastle United to Liverpool

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    Andy Carroll's £35 million move to Liverpool from Newcastle United was the epitome of Kenny Dalglish's massively flawed transfer policy.

    Carroll had first risen to prominence in Newcastle's successful promotion campaign in the 2009-10 season, scoring 17 times in 39 appearances in the Championship. He carried this good form into the Premier League, netting 11 times in 19 appearances before Liverpool came calling.

    Despite his popularity on Tyneside and the Magpies fans' frequent disdain for their board's transfer dealings, Carroll's fee was seen as a superb piece of business for Newcastle, while many Liverpool fans were wary from the off.

    Their apprehension proved warranted, as Carroll scored just six times in 44 league appearances for the Reds in an injury-hit spell on Merseyside. He was eventually sold to West Ham for around £20 million less than what he cost Liverpool.

2. Fernando Torres: £50 Million, Liverpool to Chelsea

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    However, Liverpool fans can now take solace in the knowledge that Carroll's deal was funded entirely by their star striker Fernando Torres moving to bitter rivals Chelsea.

    Torres' move to London was met with dismay on Merseyside, as he effectively forced a move through. It didn't take long for that misery to dissipate, however, when Torres began in faltering fashion.

    It took the Spaniard 14 games to register for the Blues, and despite brief runs of goals and the occasional outstanding performance, the striker has looked like a shadow of the player he once was.

    Still only aged 30, Torres should have enjoyed his peak while at Stamford Bridge, but injuries have robbed him of both his blistering pace and his confidence. His record of just 20 goals in 110 appearances for the club is dismal, considering their strength in the league.

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Torres' time at Chelsea is that it's still ongoing after more than three years of frustration. With the arrival of Diego Costa, it could mean he will finally be put out of his misery.

3. Alberto Aquilani: £20 Million, Roma to Liverpool

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    At a comparatively paltry £20 million, Alberto Aquilani doesn't seem to match up to the other names on our list, particularly as he didn't so much fail as barely get a chance to prove himself.

    His time at Anfield was beset by a constant string of injuries, and he made just nine league starts in three years at the club.

    However, it's when considering the man that the Italian was brought in to replace that the folly of his transfer becomes obvious. Xabi Alonso, one of Rafael Benitez's first signings upon becoming Liverpool manager, had established himself as arguably the best ball-playing defensive midfielder in the world while at the club.

    This apparently wasn't enough for Benitez, who tried to replace him first with Gareth Barry before finally shipping Alonso to Real Madrid for around £30 million.

    Ostensibly, replacing Alonso and netting £10 million didn't appear to be bad business for Liverpool fans, who had much faith in Benitez's judgement. Sadly, Aquilani never looked like a player worth two-thirds of Alonso when fit—which was rare.

    The loss of a quality player in the quarterback role was a devastating blow to both Benitez's system—which relied on the position heavily—and the club's squad, which only last season looked to be finally moving on from the loss of the Spaniard.

    Aquilani was quietly moved on to Fiorentina in 2012 for free, having spent the previous two seasons on loan in Italy.

4. Juan Sebastian Veron, £15 Million, Manchester United to Chelsea

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    Despite flashes of brilliance, Argentinian playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron was considered to be a major flop even before his arrival at Chelsea.

    He had cost Manchester United £28 million in 2001, making him the most expensive transfer in British football history at the time.

    He never really settled at United, and after two years Sir Alex Ferguson cut his losses by selling him to Chelsea for £15 million. While this was considerably less than what United had paid, it was arguably a worse piece of business.

    Veron had already shown he was incapable of adapting to the quick pace of the Premier League, causing many to question why another English side would spend so much on him.

    Ultimately, Veron made just seven league appearances for Chelsea over the course of four years, spending the bulk of his time on loan at Inter Milan and then in his native Argentina with Estudiantes.

5. Savio Nsereko, £9 Million, Brescia to West Ham United

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    You'd be forgiven for never having heard of Savio Nsereko, so brief and forgettable was his flirtation with the Premier League.

    And yet, until West Ham signed Andy Carroll last summer, the little-known Nsereko was their record signing. His fee pales in comparison to the others on this list, but £9 million for a cash-strapped club battling against relegation was a significant outlay.

    Nsereko was an unmitigated disaster, failing to score and making just 10 league appearances for the London club. However, it is the fact that Nsereko had never shown anything that warranted his fee that made this such a poor transfer. He had made just 22 senior league appearances for Brescia in Italy's Serie B, per SoccerBase, scoring three goals.

    The Irons managed to trade Nsereko to Fiorentina for defender Manuel da Costa, who scored three more times than Nsereko managed while at Upton Park. The German striker never appeared for La Viola and has spent the last four seasons at eight different clubs, two of which terminated his contract after he failed to report for training.

    Nsereko is currently without a club, and current Hammers vice-chairman Karren Brady has questioned whether the deal was entirely above board, per The Standard.