Working as a freelance journalist has its perks but one of the drawbacks is having free time when the rest of the world is out there earning a crust. This time must be filled somehow and today I found myself perusing the BBC website checking the scores from the early kick offs in the Europa League qualifiers.
Not exactly time well spent I know, but I came across the Werder Bremen scoreline and saw that Claudio Pizarro had bagged a first half brace. Pizarro has recently made his loan to Werder Bremen permanent after failing to make a telling contribution during his time at Chelsea. Following a fine season last year Pizarro has begun this term in the goals aswell and already has five to his name in all competitions.
This got me thinking about those players that have failed miserably in the Premier League in the past but enjoyed success elsewhere. The English league has a style of its own and for some players they just do not fit or they make the wrong move at the wrong time.
Here are my top five Premier League failures who were revered for their contributions in other climes.
1. DIEGO FORLAN
When two English clubs are scrapping over your services it is fair to say expectations will be aroused. So it proved when Manchester United gazumped Middlesbrough to acquire the services of Uruguayan Diego Forlan. Poor Diego, no sooner had he landed than he became the source of much derision for opposition fans, going on a a goalless streak that made Jesus’ 40 days in the desert seem quite timid. Alex Ferguson eventually ran out of patience and Forlan found a home in La Liga where he has not stopped scoring since, at Villareal and Atletico Madrid he has been sensational. Regularly found at that the top of the goalscoring charts in a league with some of the finest marksmen in the world, Diego has proved the doubters wrong and erased the memory of his days in England when he could not hit a barn door.
2. JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON
Chelsea and Manchester United fans will remember this man. Acquired by Manchester United for the princely sum of £28 million in 2001. He was seen as the player to take United to another attacking plain but failed to ever really ignite. Chelsea flush with Roman’s roubles thought they could coax the best out of him but again Veron did not oblige. English fans would wonder how this player could have garnered such a formidable reputation but he has always been revered in Italy, where he had spells with Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio and Inter, and in his native Argentina. Veron’s laconic style and passing game did not fit in the Premier League but he has achieved considerable success in his career. He was the lynchpin for Lazio when they won the Italian league in 2000 and recently he inspired his first club, Estudiantes, to their fourth Copa Libertadores title.
3. JOSE ANTONIO REYES
Reyes is something of an enigma, one of those players who looks destined never to be the player he could have been. Reyes’ time at Arsenal was not a complete failure, he won the Premier League title and scored some spectacular goals but he never fulfilled his potential. Reyes, though, will be remembered fondly in Seville for his youthful panache playing for his beloved Sevilla. He had it all pace, skill and a great left foot. He loved turning out against Real Madrid and on one occasion tormented them so, the Madrid coach removed young centre half Ruben in the first half and the defender took his place on the bench where he cried his eyes out. Reyes is still relatively young but it looks like that initial promise at Sevilla will be as good as it gets, but how good he was.
4. SERGEY REBROV
Tottenham fans will wince at the thought of the diminutive Ukrainian striker purchased for £11 million in 2000. At the time this really was a coup for the North London club, much to the delight of everyone else Rebrov failed to adapt to the rigours of the Engish game. His career elsewhere though was punctuated by phenomenal success, Rebrov, partnered by Andrey Shevchenko, formed one of the deadliest strike partnerships in European football in an excellent Dynamo Kiev team. Rebrov is the all-time top scorer in the Ukrainian league and the veteran played a large role last season as unheralded Rubin Kazan claimed their first ever Russian league title.
5. ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO
Without doubt the biggest disappointment ever to appear in the Premier League. Shevchenko arrived at Chelsea in 2006 with a reputation cast in iron after goals galore for Dynamo Kiev and Italian giants AC Milan. Shevchenko secured the European Footballer of the Year at Milan and seemed the striker Chelsea needed to take them to the next level. The rest is history as he has struggled dreadfully to show anything resembling form in England. Sheva will still go down as one of the great strikers of his generation but his legacy is no doubt sullied by his abysmal spell in the Premier League.
What other players can you remember that disappointed in England only to blaze it up in another league?