Ranking the 25 Worst Signings of the Summer Transfer Window
With the transfer window now slammed shut, we take a look back and rank the 25 worst signings of the summer, excluding loan captures.
So whether it be on grounds of value for money, doubts over fitness or form, suitability to a particular team’s setup or simply that the purchase is just not a very good player, these are the continent’s dud buys in descending order.
All stats taken from www.transfermarkt.co.uk
25. Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal to Wolfsburg)
OK, so Wolfsburg did not have to hand over a transfer fee in order to lure misfiring Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner from the Emirates to the Volkswagen Arena.
The Bundesliga outfit were, however, foolish enough to commit themselves to a three-year deal with the Denmark international, who managed to hit the back of the net just 47 times in his 171 appearances in all competitions during his nine-year stay in north London.
And the chances of the well-travelled 26-year-old seeing out his contract with the German top-flight outfit must be slim—at best—making this a highly risky purchase.
24. Alexander Buttner (Manchester United to Dynamo Moscow)
Dynamo Moscow paid an initial £4.4 million to sign unwanted Manchester United left-back Alexander Buttner earlier this summer in what was one of the very first moves of the transfer window to be announced.
But that three-year deal for the 25-year-old may end up costing the Russian Premier League side a whopping £5.6 million with add-ons. The player only featured in 13 top-flight contests during two seasons at Old Trafford, which says all you need to know about who got the best deal from this transfer.
23. Fabio Quagliarella (Juventus to Torino)
With Torino in urgent need of a new frontman to replace their Borussia Dortmund-bound forward Ciro Immobile this summer, the Serie A side opted to sign experienced Juventus attacker Fabio Quagliarella for €3.5 million.
And while the cost of landing the Italy international was hardly prohibitive, there is a good reason for that: The 31-year-old netted just once in the top flight last season and only four times in total during 23 appearances for the Old Lady of Italian Football.
However, with a demanding UEFA Europa League campaign contend with in this campaign, one has to question the logic behind the acquisition of a non-scoring attacker whose best days in front of goal are clearly behind him.
22. Aly Cissokho (Valencia to Aston Villa)
You can understand just why Aston Villa did not want to disclose exactly how much they paid Valencia to purchase left-back Aly Cissokho, 26, who spent the whole of the previous campaign on a season-long loan spell with Liverpool.
That is because anyone who saw the injury-prone Frenchman in action for the Merseyside giants would surely have been amazed that a club would be willing to actually pay for a player who made Reds fans long for the return of Djimi Traore.
Need I say more?
21. Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United to Borussia Dortmund)
Borussia Dortmund supporters were understandably elated following the news that former star Shinji Kagawa had returned to the Ruhr Valley just two years after leaving for Manchester United.
And while the deal does make financial sense for last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, who bought the Japanese playmaker for £6.3 million having sold him to the Red Devils for £14 million in June 2012, one has to question coach Jurgen Klopp’s thinking behind such a move.
In particular, transfers involving players making emotional returns to their former clubs rarely—if ever—work out, which makes this switch all the more dicey.
20. Michel Vorm (Swansea City to Tottenham Hotspur)
New Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino agreed to pay a reported £4.5 million to land Swansea City goalkeeper Michel Vorm in July, with the Dutchman now set to act as No. 1 Hugo Lloris’ back-up at White Hart Lane this season—at least in the Premier League that is.
But is that not a lot of money—even in this day and age of crazy transfer fees—to spend on a reserve 'keeper who for all intents and purposes will simply warm the subs’ bench all campaign long, especially when there are other areas in need of strengthening?
19. Johan Djourou (Arsenal to Hamburg)
Hamburg were happy to sign out-of-favour Arsenal defender Johan Djourou until 2016 earlier this summer after the Switzerland international spent last season out on loan with the struggling Bundesliga outfit.
But one has to wonder exactly why the German giants decided to make the versatile 27-year-old’s stay permanent after the club shipped a league-high 75 goals in 34 top-flight contests with the player marshalling their back four last time out.
18. Gary Medel (Cardiff City to Inter Milan)
It looks like Cardiff City got the best out of this particular deal after Inter Milan forked out a reported £10 million to lure Chile international Gary Medel from South Wales to San Siro last month, despite the player’s up-and-down campaign for the Bluebirds last season.
And that is because one suspects the 27-year-old defender-cum-midfielder may struggle to adapt to life in Serie A, especially at such a notoriously demanding and unstable club like the Nerazzurri.
17. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Monchengladbach to Barcelona)
Historically, foreign goalkeepers have found it hard making the move to Barcelona, and while one can’t question the Catalans’ purchase of Real Sociedad’s Claudio Bravo in June, the same cannot be said of their earlier acquisition of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The 22-year-old—who failed to even make Germany’s World Cup squad—arrived at Camp Nou for €12 million, but do not be surprised if Barca’s new goalkeeper follows in the footsteps of previous foreign No. 1’s like Vitor Baia, Ruud Hesp and Rustu Recber and struggles in La Liga.
16. Raul Jimenez (Club America to Atletico Madrid)
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone and his scouting department were faced with the unenviable task of trying to find a replacement for last season’s top-scorer Diego Costa after the Brazil-born attacker joined Chelsea in July.
And one of the players that the La Liga champions have brought in this season to try to help fill the gap created by their 36-goal marksman’s departure to Stamford Bridge is Mexico international Raul Jimenez.
However, 31 strikes in 82 appearances for Club America is no guarantee that Atleti’s €11 million purchase will be able to cut it in the technically accomplished Spanish top flight, with the 23-year-old yet to break his duck for his new club in this campaign.
15. Abel Hernandez (Palermo to Hull City)
Hull City manager Steve Bruce somehow managed to convince Tigers chairman Assem Allam to open his cheque book and fork out a club-record £10 million transfer fee to land Palermo forward Abel Hernandez on transfer deadline day.
But with big-money South American attacking imports having very rarely proved successful in English top-flight football, perhaps the north east club would have been better served purchasing a proven frontman with Premier League experience instead?
14. Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur to Queens Park Rangers)
This recent transfer window is not the first time that Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes has decided to spend big in an attempt to preserve the west Londoner’s Premier League status.
However, you would have thought that the Malaysian businessman may have learnt his lesson after splashing the cash in the summer of 2012, only to then see QPR relegated to the Championship the following year.
All of which makes the club’s decision to fork out what could be as much as £10 million to sign out-of-favour Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro much harder to comprehend.
13. Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United)
Do not get me wrong, I am fully confident that Marcos Rojo will in time prove to be an astute purchase by Manchester United, especially given the Premier League giant's current deficiencies at the back.
But the reason the Red Devils’ new £16m recruit was not such a smart buy is that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward obviously did not do his research, otherwise the current issue over possible third-party ownership of the Argentina international would surely have arisen.
Instead, though, one of the world’s biggest clubs has now been made to look foolish in the extreme after being unable to field the former Sporting Lisbon player, despite signing the 24-year-old a whole fortnight ago.
12. Jack Rodwell (Manchester City to Sunderland)
Again, similar to with Rojo’s transfer to United, the question marks surrounding Jack Rodwell’s £10 million move from Manchester City to Sunderland are more to do with the midfielder’s off-the-field problems than any doubts about his abilities as a footballer.
Given his injury problems, for a club of the Black Cats’ relatively weak financial strength to invest so much in the 23-year-old—who has managed just 134 appearances in the past seven seasons for both Everton and City—represents something of a gamble.
And while the Englishman has made an impressive start to life on Wearside, this particular switch falls under the category labelled “watch this space” as one wonders just how many times the Stadium of Light faithful will see the starlet during the course of his five-year deal.
11. Alessio Cerci (Torino to Atletico Madrid)
Sure, being given the responsibility of trying to help replenish the goals that now-Chelsea striker Diego Costa netted en route to Atletico Madrid’s shock league title win last season would be a tough task for even some of Europe’s most experienced attackers.
So one wonders how Italy international Alessio Cerci will cope with that sort of pressure at the Primera Liga champions this campaign, especially being a forward who has netted just 50 times in more than a decade with Roma, Brescia, Pisa, Atalanta, Roma, Fiorentina and Torino.
And while the 27-year-old is far from being a like-for-like replacement for the Brazil-born frontman—the versatile Cerci will most likely be stationed out on the wing at the Vicente Calderon this season—one still has to query how easily the player will fit into his new setup.
10. Enner Valencia (Pachuca to West Ham United)
There is something about this particular marriage between West Ham United and Enner Valencia—their new £12 million signing from Mexican outfit Pachuca—that seemingly does not fit at all.
The Ecuador international really caught the eye with his impressive attacking displays for the South Americans during this summer’s World Cup, scoring three goals at the tournament.
But with the Hammers already heading for another relegation dogfight this season, one has to have huge doubts about the 24-year-old’s Upton Park future, given that boss Sam Allardyce has not even started him in any of the club’s opening three Premier League encounters.
9. Shane Long (Hull City to Southampton)
Quite how Hull City were able to justify demanding a fee of £12 million from Southampton last month for striker Shane Long, when the Tigers themselves only paid £7 million for the player in January, is anyone’s guess.
I mean, as competent a finisher as the 27-year-old is, Long still only managed to hit the target on four occasions in 17 matches during his stay in the north east, making the cost of the Republic of Ireland’s switch to the south coast the subject of much discussion.
8. Jan Oblak (Benfica to Atletico Madrid)
La Liga champions Atletico Madrid bought two new goalkeepers in the transfer window in a desperate attempt to try and replace world-class Belgium international Thibaut Courtois between the posts this season.
One of those was Getafe shot-stopper Miguel Angel Moya, who arrived for just £2.4 million in June, the other being £12.6 million Benfica custodian Jan Oblak, although it is the former who has begun the new campaign as Atleti’s No. 1.
And while the Slovenian keeper shone for the Portuguese Primeira Liga champions last time out, in hindsight, the 21-year-old’s big-money move to the Vicente Calderon—certainly when compared to the cost of his rival’s transfer—is not looking like such a smart piece of business.
7. Juan Iturbe (Porto to Roma)
Roma decided to splash out an eyebrow-raising £17.4 million in July to lure former Argentina under-20 international Juan Iturbe from Porto, with the Giallorossi hoping to this season go one better on their runners-up finish in Serie A last time out.
But with just 14 goals to his name in the last six years, one has to seriously question both the sum that the Roma hierarchy invested in the 21-year-old winger and how that decision will look come the end of player’s five-year stay in the Italian capital.
6. Mario Balotelli (AC Milan to Liverpool)
While the £16 million Liverpool paid AC Milan for forward Mario Balotelli last month may seem relatively cheap compared to other transfer fees for strikers this summer, let’s see how much the Reds offload the player for when his stay at Anfield inevitably ends in controversy.
Now were this a world-class attacker who brought with him a guarantee of goals—like his predecessor on Merseyside Luis Suarez—then you could understand boss Brendan Rodgers’ decision to gamble on the unsettled Italy international.
But this is a frontman who has netted just 88 goals in 221 matches in all competitions since making his professional bow nine years ago, a profligacy in front of goal that continued on his debut for his new team at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
All of which makes the Northern Irishman’s purchase of Balo, 24, even harder to understand—let alone justify.
5. Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal to Barcelona)
It seems odd that of all the reported central-defensive targets Barcelona were linked with during the summer, the Primera Liga giants ended up landing Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen for £15 million.
Barca could have gone for other, more suitable, defenders instead, such as Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen or Liverpool’s Daniel Agger, with the Dane having recently re-joined Bronby for a fee of just £3 million.
But when the Catalans did finally sign their first centre backs for five years, they opted for an injury-plagued 28-year-old with declining pace and Valencia's Jeremy Mathieu.
4. Mehdi Benatia (Roma to Bayern Munich)
There is no doubt that the one area of the team Bayern Munich desperately needed to strengthen this summer was the heart of their defence. As a result, the Bundesliga champions splashed out a fee of around €30 million to sign Roma defender Mehdi Benatia.
But as impressive as the Morocco international was as the back for the Giallorossi in the previous campaign, I have strong doubts whether the Bavarians’ huge investment in the 27-year-old will prove to be money well spent come the end of his five-year deal at the Allianz Arena.
3. Eliaquim Mangala (Porto to Manchester City)
Again, much like with Bayern’s multimillion-euro capture of Mehdi Benatia, Premier League champions Manchester City were also in urgent need of a big-money defensive recruit during the summer transfer window to build on the team’s recent on-field progress.
And while City’s new £32 million centre-back from Porto, Eliaquim Mangala, has huge potential, it was intriguing to hear ex-Manchester United assistant coach Phil Neville’s reasons for why the Red Devils did not sign the 23-year-old when David Moyes was in charge at Old Trafford.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Neville said the Scot had been put off by the fact the player was only France’s fourth-choice central defender, while also claiming there were far better alternatives on the market for the price City had splashed out on Mangala.
All of which makes complete sense, placing a huge question mark over Blues coach Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to bring the defender to Eastlands.
2. Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester United)
Manchester United were elated to finally capture Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera for £29 million in June after more than a year trying to lure the Basque to Old Trafford.
Previous boss David Moyes had spent most of last summer’s transfer window trying to sign the 25-year-old, only for the club to fail to meet the player’s buyout clause.
And after a relatively disappointing first half to last season, Moyes opted against returning for Herrera in the January transfer window, and yet now United have decided that he is worth the money after all as they look to fix a long-running issue in central midfield.
But the club’s purchase of a Spaniard, who has still to even be capped by Spain at senior level, resembles a panic buy, which also now begs the question: why did the Red Devils not follow up their long-running interest in a similarly-priced Cesc Fabregas this summer?
1. David Luiz (Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain)
When Paris Saint-Germain announced that they had reached an agreement with Chelsea for the purchase of central defender David Luiz for a fee believed to be an initial £40 million prior to this World Cup there was some consternation across the world of football.
However, that was nothing compared to the reaction following Brazil’s humiliating exit from the tournament after a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of eventual champions Germany, a contest in which a tearful and error-prone Luiz captained the host nation.
In fact, had the west London club not been able to finalise the big-money deal before that semi-final clash, one wonders whether the 27-year-old would be a PSG player, so woeful was his display at the heart of the Selecao’s back four that night in Belo Horizonte.
But instead, the mega-rich Ligue 1 champions made the centre-back the most expensive defender in the history of football on a five-year deal that could ultimately cost the club as much as £50 million, depending on certain add-ons.
Need I say anymore?