Soccer Transfers: 20 Worst-Spent Transfer Fees of All Time
When considering my options for this article I decided that I needed to focus on players who exchanged clubs for large fees, and delivered very little in terms of output or resale value. There are a few players who I suspect might be added to the list by the time this season is over, but for the moment I will stick to the certainties.
The cover photo is of Fernando Torres who joined Chelsea from Liverpool last January, and had a very poor start to his career at the club. Chelsea have had their fair share of big money failures, but if Torres fails he will be the biggest failure of all. There is no doubting his talent, but sometimes a player just doesn't fit in at a club, and it looks like it might be the case with Torres.
1: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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Zlatan ibrahimovic joined Barcelona from Inter Milan in the summer of 2009 for a fee which was valued at almost €70 million. The actual fee was €46 million, but Samuel Eto'o was also a makeweight in the deal with various other options too. Eto'o had been the striker who helped Barcelona to the Champions League title in May 2009, and he had the last laugh when he won it with Inter the next season.
Ibrahimovic is not the easiest player to get along with, and his face never really fitted in at Barcelona. He is more of an individual player than most of the other Barcelona players, and their success has been built on teamwork and fantastic football. Barcelona won the Spanish league title but they failed to retain their Champions League one, and Ibrahimovic was loaned to AC Milan at the end of the season.
He went on to win the Italian title with Milan in 2011, and he has since made his transfer to them permanent. The fee was rumoured to be in the region of €24 million which means Barcelona made a loss of €45 million in just one season when the other factors were taken into account. It's a phenomenal amount of money to lose for just one season's return, and it certainly didn't help the financial position at Barcelona.
2: Andriy Shevchenko
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Andriy Shevchenko joined Chelsea from AC Milan in the summer of 2006 for a fee of almost €44 million. He was seen as the man to help Chelsea play the stylish football their owner wanted, as well as continuing to deliver the trophies which Jose Mourinho had being delivering. In his two seasons at Chelsea he never really made a true impact, as Didier Drogba continued to score the goals but the league titles dried up.
He was rumoured to be the choice of the owner and not the manager, and it's never easy for a player when he feels unwanted at a club. His career never really took off again after that spell at Chelsea, and he eventually went back to his first club Dynamo Kiev in 2009. Chelsea never made any money on transferring him which left them with a €44 million loss after very little return.
3: Denílson de Oliveira Araújo
Denilson joined Real Betis from Sao Paulo in the summer of 1998 for a fee of almost €30 million which was a world record at the time. He looked destined to become a true star of football, but it never really happened for him. During his time with Betis they were relegated to the second tier of Spanish football, and his time there was seen as an unmitigated disaster.
He was loaned back to Flamengo in Brazil for one season before being sold to Bordeaux in France in 2005. The fee was believed to be a rather small one and Betis got very little back on their investment in footballing or monetary terms.
4: Juan Sebastian Veron
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Juan Sebastian Veron joined Manchester United from Lazio in the summer of 2001 for a fee of roughly €40 million. He had had a very good few seasons in Italy before he joined United, and he was seen by them as the player to help them continue their dominance of English football. In his first season at United they lost their grip on the domestic game in England, as Arsenal won the double.
Veron put in some good performances, but he struggled with the pace of the English game as well as the lack of time he got on the ball. Despite backing Veron to the hilt Alex Ferguson sold him to Chelsea for half of what he had paid only two years earlier.
5: Juan Sebastien Veron
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Juan Sebastien Veron joined Chelsea from Manchester United in the summer of 2003 after an unsuccessful two year spell in Manchester. He was signed for nearly €20 million, but his spell at Chelsea was just as disastrous as his spell at United. After only one season at Chelsea he was loaned to Inter Milan in Italy and he spent the next three seasons there.
Veron left Inter for Estudiantes in his home country of Argentina in 2006, but he was still a Chelsea player at that stage. His spell with Chelsea eventually ended when he was on loan in Argentina, but they received no fee for him as he was a free agent at that stage. It would seem Chelsea failed to learn the expensive lesson which United had already learned.
6: Emmanuel Adebayor
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Emmanuel Adebayor joined Manchester City from Arsenal in the summer of 2009 for a fee in the region of €30 million. He wasn't particularly happy that Arsenal had decided to sell him, but his performances and apparent lack of interest the previous season had made Arsenal realise he was a liability. His spell at City didn't take too long to unfold, and half way through his second season with them he was loaned to Real Madrid.
Despite having a relatively successful time at Madrid he returned to City where he is now seen as surplus to requirements. His enormous wages will make it almost impossible for City to sell him, and he will probably have to be written off as tough lesson in football for them.
7: Sergei Rebrov
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Sergei Rebrov joined Tottenham Hotspur from Dynamo Kiev in the summer of 2000 for a fee believed to be in the region of €15 million. During his time with Kiev he had struck up an excellent partnership with Andrei Shevchenko, but he seemed to struggle without his compatriot in London. Shevchenko moved to AC Milan and continued scoring goals, but Rebrov was very quickly out of favour with Spurs.
He was loaned out to Fenerbache in Turkey and after four ineffective years he moved to West Ham. Spurs got virtually no return from their investment in footballing or monetary terms, and Rebrov eventually made his way back to Kiev in 2005.
8: Alberto Aquilani
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Alberto Aquilani joined Liverpool from Roma in the summer of 2009 for a fee of about €20 million. When he signed for them he was carrying an injury, and he didn't make his full debut for a few months. He gradually made his way into the team, but he struggled to hold down a place as his main rival for a starting slot was Steven Gerrard.
When Rafa Benitez left Liverpool last year it looked like Aquilani's time there was up, and he was loaned to Juventus last season. He has since returned to Liverpool for the upcoming season, as Juventus decided against taking up an option to buy him. He will be a part of their squad for the coming season, but whether he gets to play or not is anybody's guess.
When it comes to resale value Liverpool will be lucky to get half of what they paid for him with very little return for his two years on their books so far.
9: Dmytro Chygrynskiy
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Dmytro Chygrynskiy joined Barcelona from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2009 for approximately €25 million. He was a central defender who had performed very well for both his club and his country, but the fee still seemed excessively high. He only managed to play just over 10 games for Barcelona in his first season with them, and only 12 months after joining them he returned to Shakhtar.
After only one season at Barcelona his value had fallen to just €15 million, and Shakhtar had their player back along with €10 million profit in that time. His move to Barcelona was seen as nothing short of a disaster, and called their judgement of players seriously into question.
10: Adrian Mutu
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In the summer of 2003 Chelsea paid Parma almost €23 million for Adrian Mutu when Roman Abramovich took over the club and went on a spending spree. His first season started well, but the goals dried up and his relationship with Jose Mourinho soured soon after Mourinho arrived the next summer. Not long into his second season at Chelsea Mutu failed a drugs test, and Chelsea sacked him soon afterwards.
In early 2005 Chelsea started legal proceedings against Mutu for breach of contract, and they were eventually awarded €17 million in compensation. The case has been appealed from one court to the next, and Chelsea still haven't received their compensation as it stands. I'm sure they regret signing Mutu and all the trouble he brought with him.
11: Alex Hleb
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Alex Hleb joined Barcelona from Arsenal in the summer of 2008 for a fee which eventually rose to €17 million. His style of play seemed ideally suited to them, but like so many other Arsenal players who have moved to Barcelona things didn't quite work out. It soon became obvious that Hleb would only be a bit part player for Barcelona, and by the end of his first season he wanted to move on.
He was loaned to VFB Stuttgart in the summer of 2009 and the summer after that he returned to England when he went on loan to Birmingham City. The player has since said that he regrets leaving Arsenal and proved that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. As it stands Barcelona will be lucky to receive any resale value on their initial investment.
12: Ricardo Izecson Dos Santos Leite(Kaka)
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Kaka joined Real Madrid from AC Milan in the summer of 2009 for a fee of almost €70 million. He was seen as the best player in the world at the time, but he has rarely reproduced that form for Madrid. He has spent a lot of his time in Madrid injured or recovering slowly from injuries, and his influence has not been enough for Madrid to gain superiority in Spain over bitter rivals Barcelona.
If his fee had been a quarter of what was paid his time at Madrid so far would be judged as moderately successful, but for such a large fee it has been nothing short of disastrous. Of course there is still time for Kaka to turn things around at Madrid, but I don't see it happening.
13: Elvir Baljic
Elvir Baljic joined Real Madrid from Fenerbache in the summer of 2009 for a fee believed to be in the region of €26 million. His signature for them was a surprise at the time, and the size of the fee was even more surprising. He face never really fitted at Madrid, and by the end of his first season it was obvious he had no future with the club.
He was loaned back to Fenerbache in 2000 before joining Rayo Vallecano on loan the following summer. By the summer of 2002 he had his contract terminated and Madrid failed to get any return on their investment.
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Robinho joined Manchester City from Real Madrid in September 2008 for a fee of almost €43 million. At the time he was seen as one of the best players in the world, but he was particularly fond of making the move to newly rich City. His first season was relatively successful, but he never seemed happy in Manchester.
By midway through his second season it was obvious he had no real interest in playing for City, and he was loaned to his home club Santos. He was put up for sale by City in the following transfer window, but they only managed to recoup €18 million of their initial outlay when he joined AC Milan on deadline day. City lost €25 million in only two years, and the player spent some of that time on loan elsewhere.
15: Francis Jeffers
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Francis Jeffers joined Arsenal from Everton in the summer of 2001 for a fee of approximately €10 million. Arsene Wenger described him as a "fox in the box" at the time, and he said he was exactly what Arsenal needed. He was part of the Arsenal squad when they won the double in 2002, but his contribution was fairly insignificant.
By the end of the following season he was loaned back to Everton, as Arsenal again won the FA Cup without him in the squad. Since then his career has steadily gone downhill, but Arsenal at least managed to get a €3 million return on him from Charlton Athletic in 2004. In total they made a €7 million loss on the purchase of Jeffers, and he contributed very little to the team in his time at the club.
16: Ricardo Quaresma
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Ricardo Quaresma joined Inter Milan from Porto in September 2008 for a fee believed to be in the region of €19 million. He had previously had a spell at Barcelona which hadn't worked out very well for either party, and his time at Inter was no different. He had been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, but unfortunately he didn't manage to live up to his potential.
Like so many other signings who didn't work out Quaresma found himself out on loan, and when he returned he tried to resurrect his career at Inter. It didn't really work for either party and he was eventually sold to Besiktas in the summer of 2010.
17: Gaizka Mendieta
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Gaizka Mendieta joined Lazio from Valencia in the summer of 2001 for a fee in the region of €48 million. He was bought to replace both Juan Sebastian Veron and Pavel Nedved, but he never really lived up to the billing. Only a year later he was loaned to Barcelona, and he followed that with a loan move to Middlesbrough.
He played quite well at Middlesbrough and they eventually paid a smallish fee to Lazio for him. It meant Lazio lost over €40 million in total on the player, and they only had his services in the team for one season.
18: Gianluigi Lentini
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Gianluigi Lentini joined AC Milan from Torino in the summer of 1992 for a fee approximately €16 million which made him the world's most expensive player at the time. His first season at Milan was a good one, as they won the league title and he played very well. Unfortunately he was in a very serious car crash before the next season started, and despite making a full recovery he was never really the same player again.
He was sold to Atlanta in 1996 and Milan didn't recuperate much of their original fee on the transaction. Lentini might possibly have become a world class player if he hadn't been involved in that car crash, but it's impossible to tell either way.
19: Owen Hargreaves
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Owen Hargreaves joined Manchester United from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2007 for a fee of more than €20 million. His first season at United went fairly well, and he looked like he would become the driving force in their midfield. However, he hardly played at all after that, as he suffered a series of injuries which seemed endless.
At the end of last season United decided not to offer him another contract, and he is currently looking for another club. United got very little return for their investment after the initial promise, and Hargreaves will find it very hard to find a new club with his injury record.
20: Diego Ribas da Cunha
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Diego joined Juventus from Werder Bremen in the summer of 2009 for a fee of almost €25 million. He had just had an excellent couple of seasons in Germany, and the world appeared to be his oyster. Things didn't really work out for him at Juventus though, and only a year later he was sold to Wolfsburg with Juventus losing €10 million in the space of just one year.
Wolfsburg didn't have a good season with Diego in their team, and he had a few disciplinary problems as well. His star has fallen quite a lot in the last two years, but he is possibly still a player with a lot to offer to the right team.
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That's the end of my list of the 20 worst signings in world football, but as always there are bound to be a few players I've missed. The list isn't necessarily in order of which signing is the worst, as it's pretty tough to judge one against the other. I'm sure there are a few players who are included who might just turn things around with their clubs this season, but I can only call it as I see it.
Feel free to tell me where you think I may have gone wrong, or indeed if you agree with some of my choices.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.
Finally for today this season's Fantasy Premier League is up and running again. My league has almost 250 teams in it already, but I will welcome any new teams. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.