In the world of soccer, so much of the attention by the media is focused on the enormous transfers and all of the stars who are playing at the top level. But very little, if any, focus is placed on the worst transfers — the ones that make you wonder what the manager and chairman was thinking when they signed a new player.
1. Tomas Brolin
Parma to Leeds United (£4.5 million)
Having excelled at both domestic and international level, Brolin was signed by Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson for £4.5 million. Any flashes of promise shown by the former Parma striker quickly deteriorated along with his form and fitness. Brolin became embarrassingly overweight and wasn’t helped by an April Fool’s prank in which he told Swedish television he would be leaving the Yorkshire club. A disastrous move was eventually ended and a once glittering career faded into obscurity.
2. Roger Johnson
Birmingham to Wolverhampton Wanderers (£7 million)
Touted as a potential England international during a successful spell at Birmingham City (during which he led the club to a League Cup triumph over Arsenal) it was incredible to see Johnson’s career unravel so quickly at Wolverhampton. The defender suffered back-to-back relegation with Wolves, struggling for form and making headlines for turning up to training under the influence of alcohol. The club, only this season returned to the Championship.
3. Ali Dia
Blyth Spartans to Southampton
A transfer from an era of football where such mistakes were possible given less complex and detailed scouting networks, Dia managed to convince Southampton manager Graeme Souness that he was a Senegal international carrying a recommendation from the legendary George Weah. An inauspicious debut in which he came off the bench to replace Matt Le Tissier goes down as one of the most bizarre moments in Premier League history. The amateur player was promptly substituted in that same match against Leeds United, with Le Tissier commenting: “His performance was almost comical. He kind of took my place, but he didn’t really have a position. He was just wondering everywhere.”
4. Albert Luque
Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle United (£9 million)
Arriving in England with a stellar reputation, Luque’s disastrous stint at Newcastle epitomized a period of ill-advised, over-priced transfer dealings that destabilized the club during a difficult period. A solitary Premier League goal in a 4-1 derby win over Sunderland was hardly justification for a hefty price tag, as Luque spent a sizeable chunk of his time on Tyneside being treated by physios. The transfer was part of Lord Stevens’ inquiry into corruption in football back in 2006.