For every Ronaldo, there’s a Shevchenko. Sometimes, great reputations come at a great cost yet fail to deliver. Shevchenko is a great player to start with. Feared throughout Europe, his performances for Dynamo Kiev and A.C. Milan saw him become one of the most lethal strikers in the world. Once he arrived at Stamford Bridge, his reputation began to fall apart.
Yet these things happen. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, some players cannot settle. Yet others flourish when they were expected to fail. Now we look at some of the worst signings in the last ten years and ask ourselves, did Juan Sebastian Veron really cost £43 million for English clubs alone!!
Well over the years, especially as the Premiership’s international appeal has grown, we now find ourselves in a situation were probably as case can be made for a large chunk of the best players in the world currently ply their trade in England. From Rooney to Torres, Essien to Mascherano, every team offers us a plethora of international flavour. Now let’s cast our eyes over some of my selections for the worst signings this decade in no particular order.
1. Juan Sebastian Veron £43.6 million
Now Veron’s failure to cope with the Premiership is something I still can’t get to grips with. His international pedigree was assured, he’d pulled the strings for Lazio and Parma during a 5 year spell in Italy, he was a top player. The failure of the Little Witch to adapt to the Premiership still astounds me. Manchester United paid £28.1 million for him, but off loaded him 2 years later to Chelsea, were he continued to under-perform. A return to Italy at Inter Milan never saw him recapture his form and he has now returned to Argentinian football.
2. Andrey Shevchenko £30.8 million
As I’ve mentioned earlier, a striker with one of the most feared reputations in Europe caused Chelsea to change their system and lose their way a little under Jose Mourinho. Rumours abound that the Special One never wanted him at Stamford Bridge but since he joined Chelsea, his career has taken a nose dive. Even a return to A.C. Milan couldn’t recapture his glory days and he has now returned to Kiev. It was like watching a different player when he was at Chelsea, he just couldn’t cope with the game.
3. Sergei Rebrov £11 million
Oddly, Shevchenko’s strike partner failed to adapt to the English game also, but his refusal to accept black players as team mates meant that he was always going to struggle. Perhaps a little more digging in to his personal life would have avoided an £11 million mistake for Tottenham Hotspur in 2000. Made a return to publicity when Spurs signed Roman Pavlychenko, warning him about the amount of “Non-whites” in the Tottenham area. A thoroughly horrible man, the Premiership is better for his absence.
4. Fernando Morientes £6.5 million
Another striker with a fearsome reputation who looked as if he’d been kidnapped and replaced by a stand in when he joined Liverpool in January 2005. It was especially strange as the season before, he’d had a marvelous campaign in the Champions League with Monaco and a solid reputation forged for Real Madrid and Spain. He just never got going at Anfield and returned to Spain after just 18 months.
5. David Bentley £15 million
Bentley had forged an excellent reputation under Mark Hughes at Blackburn Rovers but his spell at Tottenham has seen him under perform constantly. That goal against Arsenal was expected to be the catalyst but Aaron Lennon’s continued excellent form has seen him become a peripheral player at his beloved Tottenham. It’s simply not worked for him and the problem is no one can work out why.
6. Jean Alain Boumsong £8.2 million
This transfer still makes me laugh, as it was a ludicrous amount of money for a centre half who struggled to cope with Scottish football during his spell at Rangers. Yet, if you want someone to pay over the odds, who better than Graeme Souness to come to your rescue. Never coped while he was at St James’ Park, he was moved on to Juventus and struggled in Serie B before joining Lyon.
7. Albert Luque £9.5 million
Another one of Souness’ signings during his awful spell as Newcastle manager, Luque came highly rated but never saw his career take off at all in the North East. He’d had three excellent seasons at Deportivo but since his two year hell at Newcastle his career has collapsed. Another dreadful Souness signing that never recovered to show his early potential.
8. Bosko Balaban £6 million
Was highly rated when John Gregory signed him for Aston Villa but in his 30 month spell he never started a game or scored a goal. The long running joke amongst Villa fans was that they’d actually signed the wrong player but he was signed as a goal getting striker. On leaving Villa he continued to score goals but will always be remembered for the goalless spell at Villa Park.
9. Steve Marlet £11.5 million
The signing that brought the end to Jean Tigana’s reign as Fulham manager and caused a legal battle with the chairman of Fulham, Marlet was an unmitigated disaster. 11 goals in 4 years says it all and he is currently without a club. Though how he was ever valued at £11.5 million after scoring just 13 goals in 2 seasons at Lyon still mystifies me.
10. Robbie Keane £20 million
Poor old Robbie Keane thought he’d gone to heaven when Spurs grudgingly accepted a hefty bid for the Liverpool supporting Irishman. Yet, unbeknown to Keane, Benitez didn’t want him and he became a pawn in an internal battle between Rick Parry and Rafa Benitez. 6 months later he was on his way back to White Hart Lane for the remainder of the fee that Liverpool owed Spurs, so effectively the Reds paid £8 million for a 6 month loan deal. Has never looked the same player since he returned either.
11. Francis Jeffers £8 million
Arsene Wengers most expensive mistake, Jeffers was supposedly the fox in the box the Gunners needed as the long term replacement for Ian Wright. Yet Jeffers’ attitude had caused him to be gladly sold by Everton and his career has seen him fall down the leagues, failing to score or stay fit for than a month a time. A shining example of wasted potential, he scored on his England debut in 2001 and it was all down hill from there. Is frighteningly still 28, currently injured at Sheffield Wednesday.
So, any thoughts on who you feel was the worst Premiership signing of the last 10 years? Please leave your comments below.