EPL: The 10 Biggest Flops in Recent Times

Cameron OliverContributor IIApril 15, 2011

EPL: The 10 Biggest Flops in Recent Times

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    Fernando Torres' form for Chelsea since his £50m move in January has been less than inspiring. He's now played a part in 11 games for the Blues and is yet to find the net or even assist on a goal.

    Now we all know that to go with the successful purchases, there's bound to be a dodgy purchase or two to go with them. Here, I'll explore 10 of the worst...

    And, no, Fernando won't be on the list. It's a bit soon for that.

10. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)

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    He probably missed this one...Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    We'll start with another striker who moved to Chelsea for big money.

    At AC Milan, the Ukranian was an unqualified success. He found the net 173 times in 296 appearances for the Rossoneri, helping them to both League and Champions League success.

    Shevchenko built a formidable reputation for himself at the San Siro, becoming one of the most feared strikers in world football and when partnered with his much-publicized friendship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, a move to London seemed a certainty.

    And so it was. In 2006, Sheva moved to Stamford Bridge for £30.8 million, at the time a record fee for an English club. Much was written about a potential strike force of Shevchenko and Didier Drogba under the astute management of Jose Mourinho, but it was not to be.

    Shevchenko never reached the heights he did in Italy. A modest return of 14 goals in 51 appearances led many commentators questioning the motivation behind the purchase, with many accusing Abramovich of buying the striker as a vanity purchase, especially since Mourinho notoriously avoided buying big names and he wasn't a fit for his favoured tactics.

    Sheva's second season was blighted by injury before he was shipped back to Milan on loan for the next season, where his miserable run continued. Eventually, he found himself back at his home club, Dynamo Kiev, where he has shown glimpses of his former self, especially in the current campaign.

    All in all, Shevchenko scored 22 competitive goals for Chelsea. That's £1.4m a goal. Ouch. Perhaps what Chelsea fans will remember him for is a crucial goal-line clearance in the 91st minute against Man Utd that secured them victory.

9. Per Krøldrup (Everton)

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    The big Dane enjoyed several seasons in Udinese's defensive line before Everton came calling in 2005 and Krøldrup moved to Merseyside for £5million.

    Not the biggest sum paid on this list by a long way, but David Moyes is a shrewd transfer market mover, and has to be, given the limited budget the Toffees operate on, and £5m would of constituted a large part of that budget.

    His move to the Premier League started disastrously, as he immediately injured his groin and was forced to undergo surgery. He finally made his debut in December against Aston Villa, where he displayed absolutely none of the talent that £5m would suggest he had, as Everton suffered a 4-0 defeat.

    He would go on to make just one more appearance, against Millwall in the FA Cup, before being shipped back to Italy the following season where he remains today, playing for Fiorentina.   

8. Michael Owen (Newcastle United)

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    After Real Madrid splashed out on two shiny new Brazilian strikers in 2005, speculation was rife over Owen's future. Liverpool fans craved to have their hero back, but eventually Newcastle came in with £16 million and secured his signature.

    He was unveiled to nearly 20,000 Geordie supporters at St. James' Park who came to show approval of their new goal machine. Little did they realise they'd see more of him at St. James' Hospital (I know it's in Leeds).

    Owen, it seemed, was permanently broken. Injury after injury came and went for Owen, and the toll taken was evident as the searing pace that he was known for was no longer there.

    But he still demonstrated his knack for getting on the scoresheet, netting 30 times in 79 appearances for the Magpies.

    Usually, this wouldn't constitute a flop. But those 79 apps came over four seasons.

    Owen now plies his trade at Manchester United, where he is used largely as an impact sub. He is still no stranger to the physio's table though, having only recently returned to the bench after a groin problem.

7. Mateja Kežman (Chelsea)

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    Signed for £5m from PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea and many commentators thought they'd secured a bargain.

    Kežman had scored more goals than he'd played games for two seasons on the trot and a sensational overall scoring record for the Dutch side of 105 in 122 league games.

    Kežman's impact, however, was minimal. He made just 14 starts in his solitary season at the London club where he constantly performed abjectly.

    His biggest claim to fame was scoring the winning goal in Chelsea's League Cup triumph over Liverpool that season, though it's unlikely fans will keep him in their hearts for it.

    Since leaving Chelsea, Kežman has been something of a journeyman, playing at Athletico Madrid, Fenerbahçe, Paris Saint-Germain and Zenit St. Petersburg and he now performs at the dizzy heights of Hong Kong's first division playing for South China.

    He has failed to recapture the goal-scoring abilities that once promised so much from the Serb.

6. Diego Forlán (Manchester United)

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    Perhaps the most fondly remembered on this list, Diego Forlán nonetheless flopped a big one at Old Trafford.

    Garnering a reputation as goal scorer playing for Argentinian side Independiente, Manchester United parted with £7.5million to secure the Uruguayan's services.

    He didn't show any of the goal scoring fortitude so ably demonstrated in South America; however, he worked hard and always looked busy, which bought affection from the fans. Kind of like a rubbish Carlos Tevez.

    He will be forever remembered by Utd fans after a brace by the Uruguayan put fierce rivals Liverpool away, and he would go on to repeat the trick in the Europa League playing for Atletico Madrid

    All in all, Forlán managed just 17 goals in 95 appearances for the Red Devils, and left in 2004 when Wayne Rooney arrived at the club.

    This story has a happy ending though, as Forlán would go on to find huge success in La Liga playing for Villareal and Atletico Madrid where he became something of a goal machine.

    Indeed, such has been his success that a move back to the Premier League with Spurs has been strongly rumoured in recent times. 

5. Titus Bramble (Anywhere and Everywhere)

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    How Titus Bramble has had a football career I'm not entirely sure, though deals with demons are a likely cause.

    Bramble makes this list as Newcastle, Wigan and Sunderland have all signed him and immediately regretted it as the man nicknamed Titus Shambles (amongst other, less family-friendly variants) would invariably get something wrong and cost his side the game.

    Fans weep when they see the player constantly voted as the worst in the Premier League in the starting XI.

    Newcastle paid £6m for him. Sunderland £1m. Jesus. 

    If you are reading this, Titus, I'm sorry. You're probably a nice bloke. Just stop playing football. Please

4. Adrian Mutu (Chelsea)

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    Chelsea fans, I'm not picking on you. I promise.

    Mutu arrived at Chelsea in 2003 on the back of two seasons in Serie A which had seen a high level of performance from the Romanian. He started well, scoring four times in his first three appearances but after that, his form suffered a sharp dip and he had a strenuous relationship with manager Jose Mourinho.

    Things went from bad to worse when the Romanian tested positive for cocaine at the start of his second season in London and he was promptly sacked in October.

    Mutu would go on to receive a seven-month ban from the FA. The saga continued though, with Mutu being ordered by FIFA to pay some 17 million euros to Chelsea as compensation. 

    After his ban expired he headed back to Serie A, he played briefly for Juventus before signing for Fiorentina, where he enjoyed good form before failing another drug test and incurring a further ban from playing. He is still playing in Florence, but now largely from the bench.

3. Fernando Morientes (Liverpool)

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    After losing Michael Owen in the summer, Liverpool responded by signing Morientes from Real Madrid for around £6 million.

    The Spaniard was signed largely due to an impressive loan spell with AS Monaco the previous season, where his goals had propelled the French side to the Champions League final.

    Strikers trade in goals, and it appeared that Morientes was fresh out of stock upon arrival at Anfield.

    Despite public votes from manager and compatriot Rafa Benitez, he managed only eight league goals from 41 run outs during his season and a half stay on Merseyside and found himself benched more and more. 

    He would eventually move back to Spain with Valencia, although he was able to take an FA Cup winners medal with him.

    Morientes would never again show the scintillating form he did for Monaco and after a brief spell in France with Marseille, the Spaniard hung up his boots in August last year.

2. Massimo Taibi (Manchester United)

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    Perhaps not that recent, but long will the legacy of Massimo Taibi live.

    Bought in what one can only assume was blind panic by Sir Alex Ferguson for £4.5 million from Italian side Venezia, Taibi had spent most of his career playing for a mid-table side in Serie A or warming AC Milan's bench.

    Despite this, Taibi made his debut for the Red Devils in the cauldron that is Old Trafford when Liverpool came to visit. The writing was on the wall as the Italian's first significant action was to flap at a cross, handing Liverpool a goal.

    Despite this, though, Taibi excelled for the rest of the game, and was named Man of the Match as United came back to win 3-2.

    Things quickly turned sourer though, as a string of errors led to stinging criticism in the press. The final straw was a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea, a match in which Taibi looked more than hopeless.

    He made only four appearances for Manchester and was soon back playing for mid-table sides in Italy.

    He spent the remaining of his playing days jobbing around Serie A, though he did enter Italian record books, as he scored a last-minute equaliser for Regina from a corner becoming only the second 'keeper in Serie A history to score from open play.

    He retired from professional football in 2009.

1. Juan Sebastián Verón (Manchester United & Chelsea)

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    Another player who forged his reputation in Serie A, Verón was a driving force for Sampdoria, Parma, whom he he helped to Italian Cup and UEFA Cup success; and then Lazio, where he helped to their first Scudetto in 26 years as well as further domestic cup success.

    In 2001, he signed for Manchester United for £28.1m, another sum that was a record for an English side. 

    La Brujita had a torrid time at Old Trafford, where he found the pace of the game much too quick for his liking and he only ever looked comfortable in the Champions League where the football is played at a slower tempo.

    He did, however, manage to get Fergie to deliver an expletive-ridden rant to the media over his performances. Which was worth a chuckle.

    After his second season with the Red Devils was hampered by injury, he was sold to Chelsea for about £15m where he flopped all over again.

    This is arguably a worse purchase, as the Stamford Bridge outfit will have been all too aware of his misgivings in English football. The temptation to put him on this list twice was there, but that's probably a bit unfair.

    After Chelsea, he was loaned out to Inter for a a couple of seasons before returning to his home club Estudiantes (sound familiar?) in Argentina where he achieved his boyhood dream of winning the Copa Libertadores in 2009 as well as being named player of the tournament,

Honorable Mentions

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    Looking back my list, it's a little bit heavy on strikers, Chelsea and Manchester United. It's not deliberate, remember this list is purely my opinion, one that I hope you'll enjoy debating over.

    Here's a few more players that sucked quite hard, just not enough to make the top ten...

    Francis Jeffers, Everton to Arsenal, £8m

    Jo, CSKA Moscow to Manchester City, £17m

    Sergei Rebrov, Dynamo Kiev to Spurs, £11.5m

    Jonathan Woodgate, Middlesbrough to Spurs, £7m

    Stephen Ireland, Manchester City to Aston Villa, P/X

    Javier Mascherano, Corinthians to West Ham, Undsic.

    Bébé, Vitória de Guimarães to Manchester United, £7m

    Steve Marlet, Lyon to Fulham, £11.5m

    Alberto Aquilani, Roma to Liverpool, £17m

    Owen Hargreaves, Bayern Munich to Manchester United, £17m

    David Nugent, Preston North End to Portsmouth, £6m

    Sebastien Squillaci, Sevilla to Arsenal, Undisc.

    Titus Bramble, because he deserves it twice

     

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, until next time....

    Ciao.