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Top 5 Premiership Flops That Shone Elsewhere


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


ShevaWithout 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?

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  1. David Allison

    August 28, 2009 at 5:40 am

    As a Newcastle fan, I remember well the signing of Jon Dahl Tomasson, went on to play for Feyenoord, Milan, Stuttgart and Valencia, whilst amassing 51 goals in 104 appearances for Denmark. He seemed a sure-fire bet at 21 years of age and 27 goals in 37 U-21 games…

  2. Ian B

    August 28, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Djibril Cisse maybe? When Liverpool signed him there was a load of BS about him becoming Europes best striker, replacing Theirry etc. Now we switches clubs every year, scores a few goals a long the way, but hardly sets the world alight.

    • Eddie

      August 28, 2009 at 10:24 am

      That’s a good one, too. Come to think of it, just about any Liverpool striker in the period between Owen and Torres … Cisse, Morientes, Baros.

  3. Cam

    August 28, 2009 at 2:50 am

    United could fill this list if they wanted to. Kleberson is one that jumps to mind..Also Hargreaves, Carrick and Berbatov could fit the bill of being major flops!

    • Peter

      August 28, 2009 at 4:06 am

      Bit premature to say that Berbatov and Hargreaves are flops in fact it’s insanity to claim Hargreaves is a flop. As for Carrick, I don’t belive he has played abroad yet!

      • Cam

        August 28, 2009 at 5:04 am

        I don’t know about that…if you think about it logically Hargreaves has produced nothing and has been at United for 3 years with only 37 games under his belt. Anderson, who has been there for the same time, has done way more (77 games) and is a lot younger! Nani is the other one, who again, has done way more and is younger (75 games). They all cost around the same, but Hargreaves may only have a couple more good years left in him, where as the other two have plenty of time to develop!
        When United bought Hargreaves the expectations were huge, he averaged over 30 games a year for Munich, now all we get is just over 12….I wouldn’t say thats worth 15mill. Xabi Alonso when he went to Liverpool is a good example, played over 120 games in the same 3 years, is a year younger and was 5mill less than Hargreaves. I could go on FOREVER with stats that say Hargreaves is a flop. I’m not saying I don’t want him in my team, just stating that he hasn’t done anything for the club.

        As for Berbatov, he hasn’t scored many goals for a striker, who’s main job is to score goals! Even though he has bags of assists, he has done very little for the 31mill spent on him. Its a lot of money for very little return and in business sense, its a bad deal.

  4. Ford Prefect

    August 28, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Interesting list–Sadly, 2 of the 5 played for United

  5. acn

    August 28, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Freddy Kanoute?

  6. wllmhll

    August 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    adrian mutu? well, he flopped due to drugs use but he has done since then in serie a, albeit 15m poorer.

  7. Kautzie

    August 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I don’t think Reyes fits your criteria for this list, sure he was a bit of a flop at Arsenal but then again he’s also been a flop at every place he’s been since leaving.

  8. boldsoul

    August 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Your are an idiot…

    • andrew

      August 28, 2009 at 12:31 am

      useful comment.

      not great to see our remember veron or forlan two biggest united flops ever.


    August 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Good list there. Guess Kezman could be considered, but then so could Julio Baptiste when he was at Sevilla, but of course that was before the loan spell at Arsenal. Since then it’s like he’s not the same player.

  10. Eddie

    August 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm


  11. djl

    August 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I’d be interested to see a list of players who played well in the Premiership but flopped in smaller, less-talented leagues.

    Shaun Bartlett immediately comes to mind…he was reasonably decent with Charlton, won goal of the year, but was mediocre at best in MLS.

  12. usf_fan1

    August 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    SHEVCHENKO….why, why, why….I was having a good morning today, and now you’ve gone ahead and reminded of Mr. Flop. I still blame him 100% for Mourinhos exit. Still gets my blood boiling yrs later. Maybe I need therapy…dunno.

  13. Andrei

    August 27, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Rebrov wasn’t really given a fair chance at Tottenham…

  14. randomsausage

    August 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Sheva/Reyes seem out of place here……I thought the point was players who were crap but — after leaving EPL — became veritable Hot Shot Hamishes? The most astonishing of these is quite rightly Forlan, who was always a good source of amusement at ManYou but has played quite fantastically in Spain.

    Whit aboot 5 EPL exports who flopped abroad: Viera is #1 on the hit parade…….I saw him this summer when Inter came on their US tour. He is simply pants…completely uninterested.

  15. Danny

    August 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I don’t think Shevchenko has found form elsewhere? Had form (plenty of it) beforehand but his career has nosedived after joining Chelsea.

    • Rory

      August 27, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      Bit of a misunderstanding on the post, could have been clearer. I was looking at players who performed well in other leagues but did not cut it in the Premier League, in Sheva’s case his form was in the years preceding his move to England, as opposed to Forlan who has flourished since or Veron who has re-established his reputation since leaving EPL

  16. Basian Nescorto

    August 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    What other players can you remember that disappointed in England only to blaze it up in another league?

    – What about Mateja Kezman??? In Chealse and in PSG!

    • Rory

      August 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      Good one.
      Kezman’s record in Holland was unbelievable but the move to England seemed to destroy all his confidence. Has pretty much disappeared since.

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