With the Premier League quickly becoming tougher than ever to compete in, recruitment has become of the utmost importance for clubs. And, generally, they’ve done quite well.
Over recent years we’ve seen the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Sergio Agüero, and N’Golo Kante all arrive on English waters to play in the top flight. They have all contributed massively for their clubs, as well as the division as a whole.
But not all transfers have worked out quite so well – there have also been some gargantuan flops. Some players just simply haven’t been able to cut it since arriving.
Here are our five worst Premier League signings since 2010. Do you agree?
5. Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United (2016)
This is one that may cause some disgruntlement amongst United supporters – but hear me out.
In 2012, United released Pogba after deeming him unable to make the step up from youth to adult football. He made the switch to Italian giants Juventus on a free transfer where he went on to make 178 appearances during a four year stay at the club. 34 goals and 40 assists in this period earned him a reputation as being one of the hottest prospects in European football. In 2016, United made the decision to re-sign the French international for what was a world record fee believed to be around £89m. This surpassed the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £85m.
Any transfer which involves a player being allowed to leave the club for free – only to be re-signed for the best part of £100m including add-ons – is a perfect example of how not to conduct business in the footballing world.
Since re-signing, Pogba has made 165 appearances for the Red Devils with a total of 68 goal contributions according to TransferMarkt. The frustration with Paul Pogba lies within his lack of consistency. One game he will run the show; however, other games he will be largely anonymous and float around the pitch uninterested.
From a business perspective, this has to go down as one of the worst dealings in Premier League history.
4. Ricky Alvarez – Inter to Sunderland A.F.C. (2014)
Back in 2014, Sunderland were an established Premier League side. Six years on, they find themselves lingering in the third tier of English football.
In September 2014, Sunderland confirmed the loan signing of Inter Milan midfielder Ricky Alvarez for a fee believed to be around £1m. At the time, many Sunderland fans were optimistic about Alvarez – but it wasn’t to be. In the 14/15 season, Alvarez made only 17 appearances for the club in all competitions, contributing just one goal. To make things worse, the Argentine would then attain a season-ending knee injury..
As part of the loan deal, Sunderland agreed a £10m fee obligating them to sign Alvarez after the loan. After the North-East side avoided relegation, they attempted to get out of their obligation to buy. They claimed that the injury that had ruled Alvarez out of action had been a product of the left knee troubles that were originally acknowledged in the transfer agreement.
The club failed to win their case which resulted in Sunderland paying £10m to Inter Milan. However, they didn’t offer Alvarez a contract. Instead, after Sunderland ‘signed’ Alvarez, he was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer. He then went on to immediately join Sampadoria in Serie A.
Alvarez also took Sunderland to the Court of Arbitration of Sport to sue the club for his loss of earnings between his time with Sunderland and then with Sampdoria. Sunderland ended up suing their club doctor to recoup losses.
3. Kepa Arrizabalaga – Bilbao to Chelsea (2018)
In August of 2018, Kepa became the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of football, joining Chelsea for a world record £72m. The previous record was the transfer of Alisson to Liverpool.
Kepa arrived at Chelsea with high expectations following the departure of Thibaut Courtois. However, even today, he has failed to live up to those expectations. Since signing, Kepa has made 72 appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League – one appearance for every £1m he cost. In this period, he has kept 22 clean sheets, but also conceded 92 goals.
Kepa’s Chelsea career took a turn for the worse during the infamous 2019 Carabao Cup final. In the second half of extra time, Sarri was ready to replace the Spaniard with Willy Caballero. However, Kepa downright refused to leave the pitch. From this moment on, his career in English football went downhill.
Fast forward to now, he is second choice at Chelsea following the summer signing of Edouard Mendy from French side Rennes, accumulating only three appearances this season. An expensive mistake!
2. Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Manchester United (2018)
At the time, this transfer was deemed to be good business by Manchester United and had many supporters excited to see him in action. Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Arsenal in a swap deal that saw Sanchez move in the other direction.
Once again, the business side of this transfer certainly contributes to it being one of the worst in the recent Premier League history. According to ESPN, Sanchez agreed a contract worth £391K per week – this with £75K appearance bonuses alongside a £1.1m annual bonus.
Sanchez spent one and a half seasons at United where he managed just three Premier League goals in 32 appearances.
Solksjaer was clearly not keen on Sanchez sticking around at the club and United decided to ship him out on loan last season, the Chilean joining Inter Milan where he would go on to score four goals and created a further nine in his first season. However, United were still paying a large part of Sanchez’s wages whilst he was in Italy, this believed to be around £200K a week. For a player that isn’t playing for you anymore, that’s a remarkable amount of money.
Quite possibly the worst signing for Manchester United in the Premier League era.
1. Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea (2011)
During Torres’ time at both Athletico and Liverpool, he was labelled as one of the most clinical strikers on the planet. 65 goals in 102 Premier League games made the Spaniard a fan favourite amongst Liverpool fans before his Chelsea move. His record came to an approximate one goal every 120 minutes – simply astonishing.
Given his impressive record at Liverpool, Chelsea decided to swoop for the Spanish international in a deal worth around £52m. However, from the day he signed, it just wasn’t to be.
Torres made 110 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, netting just 20 goals. His best goal return for the West London side came in the 12/13 season where he boasted a rather underwhelming eight in 36 record.
In his first season at the club, Torres scored once – and who can forget his horrendous miss at Old Trafford? 3-1 down with eight minutes of normal time to go, Torres found himself through on goal and took the ball around David De Gea, before firing wide of the target much to the amusement of the home supporters.
Torres did actually have some successful times at Chelsea, most notably his goal against Barcelona that sealed Chelsea a spot in the 2012 Champions League final.
Chelsea eventually allowed the Spaniard to leave the club on loan, joining AC Milan before eventually returning to his native Athletico Madrid. Another expensive flop.
Any other choices?
The Premier League has been rammed full with shocking signings over the years – this is just the start. From Andy Carroll to Liverpool, to Joelinton to Newcastle, to Jack Rodwell to Sunderland… the list goes on and on.
Are there any additions you would make? Here at FanHub, we’re looking to put fans first – and we’d love to hear from you. Make sure to Tweet us in on @FanHub_Football or drop a comment in the section below.