Premier League: Top Ten Worst Ever Signings

On Saturday at the Emirates, Michu scored a late double to give Swansea all three points. It was also his tenth goal, an impressive tally considering his natural position is in midfield.

At £2 million, he has to be up there with one of the best Premier League signings ever.
On the same day, at the other side of London, Fernando Torres was struggling once again.

Despite three clear cut chances, the Spaniard couldn’t find the back of the net, a saying which is all too common for the striker this season. The game against West Ham was Torres’s 90th game for Chelsea, scoring just 19 goals. At £50 million, he has to be up there as one of the worst signings the Premier League has seen.

However, he doesn’t make my list. Why? Because he still has time to turn it around. It’s a similar story for £35 million Andy Carroll, who has endured a torrid time at Anfield. At the moment, it seems unlikely but the players could find the form which warranted the commanding fees, but if they did then the term ‘flop’ would be ignored.

This list will not include those who are still at their current club. So that means no Torres, Carroll, Downing and Bebe.


Number 10 – Seth Johnson (Leeds United)

Back in 2001, Leeds United were building up one of the best and improving squads in the league. It included the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Harry Kewell and Alan Smith. Also in the squad is one player who might not be remembered as much: Seth Johnson.

After an impressive season with Derby County, Leeds came in and bought Johnson for £7 million, a high fee and one that wasn’t justified. In his four years at Leeds, Johnson played just 54 times. This is down to major injury problems but also because when he did have a chance to shine, he failed to perform. It was a huge risk for Leeds to pay that much money for a youngster, and it’s one that ultimately failed to pay off.

There is also a good story surrounding his contract negotiations although its accuracy is still doubtful. Johnson and his agent went into the boardroom intending to ask for around £20,000 a week in wages, only to be offered way more than that by Leeds chairman Peter Risdale.

Eventually, Risdale upped it to £35,000 a week which Johnson gladly accepted. No wonder Leeds had money problems.


Number 9 – Tore Andre Flo (Sunderland)

The big Norwegian striker has had a rather successful career, although there might be one move he might look back on and regret. After impressing north of the border for Rangers, Flo was brought to Sunderland on deadline day back in the summer of 2002. He was signed along with Marcus Stewart for a combined fee of £10million but the Black Cats have since stated that Flo cost £6.75million.

It was hard for Flo from the off. Manager Peter Reid had struggled to bring in a striker all summer and the deadline day dealing screamed desperation. Another problem was the boots that he was replacing. Niall Quinn retired early on into the season so the pressure was on for Flo to be a straight forward replacement.

In a struggling team, Flo only managed six goals all season as the Black Cats were relegated. There were also big questions about his fitness, resulting in failing out with the incoming managers. In fact, Flo only managed 90 minutes in the last nine games of the season.

Flo soon left for a free, ending his sad and dismal spell on Wearside. The panic buy didn’t pay off for Sunderland as the great expectations were too much for Flo. It’s definitely one deadline day signing that the Black Cats regret.


Number 8 – Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool)

The Italian midfielder signed for Liverpool from Roma in a deal worth around £17million. With such a big fee, a lot was expected from the star, but it’s safe to say that he never really stepped up to the mark. It’s a big mystery as to why he never really made it at Liverpool.

One theory is that he was brought in at the same time that Xabi Alonso left, suggesting that he was to replace him in the team. However, the Italian is naturally more of an attacking midfielder, so the deep lying role never really suited him.

Aquilani played 28 times for the reds, scoring two goals. During the season, he did gain some man of the match performances, but he never seemed to live up the expectations that the Anfield faithful expected. After one season, he was sent back to Italy to regain his fitness and he never returned, perhaps suggesting that his game will always be more suited to the Italian game. This summer, he finally sealed his permanent return to Serie A in an undisclosed fee, but it’s almost certain that Liverpool would have lost some money.

There have definitely been worse performers then Aquilani but he just never made a regular impact, resulting in a short career after a big fee.


Number 7 – Robbie Keane (Liverpool)

Robbie Keane has always been one of the best Premier League strikers, scoring regularly for whichever club he has been at. It was then no surprise when Liverpool took the risk to sign in for £19 million back in 2008. However, what was surprising was that he was then sold back to Spurs six months later for just £16 million.

This wasn’t the first time that a big move for Keane didn’t work out. Back in 2000, Keane completed a £13 million move to Italian giants Inter Milan. After just 3 goals in 14 games, Keane returned back to England where he found his goal scoring boots again.

In his short time at Liverpool he scored 7 goals in 28 games. Not the Robbie Keane that we had all been used to. And he didn’t really recover. He scored five goals on his return to Spurs before successful spells in Scotland and the US.

Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, they didn’t get to see the trademark Keane celebration that much. In six months they lost £4million and Keane may have lost his confidence after his disappointing spell at Anfield.


Number 6 – Juan Sebastian Veron (Manchester United and Chelsea)

If it was possible for one player to take two places in this list, then Juan Sebastian Veron would be the man to do so. Veron endured two poor stints and both Man United and Chelsea before leaving and regretting moving to England in the first place.

It’s such a shame to see players like Veron on the list as there is no doubt that he does have the ability to shine. However, the popular cliché how it takes foreigners time to adjust to the Premier League doesn’t apply to Veron; he never managed to adjust,

Veron signed for Manchester United in 2001, a £28.million move from Lazio. He might have been one of United’s most expensive signings ever. Despite impressing in a few high profile games and winning a Player of the Month award, he failed to make an impact which he was hoping for. Ferguson famously had a few high profile rants at the press defending Veron’s performances, but deep down Ferguson must have known that his signing didn’t pay.

In fact, Ferguson soon sold Veron to title rivals Chelsea for just £15million. His time at Chelsea proved to be even worse. Despite scoring on his debut, Veron played just 14 times. He was sent out on loan for three years before eventually ending his sorry, sorry spell in England.


Number 5 – Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)

After a prolific spell at AC Milan, a lot was expected of Andriy Shevchenko when he finally joined Chelsea. After being pursued for over a year, he finally joined Chelsea in the summer of 2006 for £30.8 million, at the time a British transfer record.

After scoring on his debut, it looked like it could have been one of the best signings ever, but it was anything but that it was anything but that. He was to score only 4 league goals in his first season at the club, scoring 5 the year after. For someone who was regularly scoring 20+ goals at AC Milan, it was a hugely disappointing return for the Ukrainian striker.

After a disastrous loan move back to AC Milan (scoring two goals all season), Shevchenko played one more game for Chelsea before moving on. After scoring 22 goals for Chelsea, it just seemed a massive shame that his full potential at Chelsea wasn’t explored. The huge fee might have put a bit too much expectation on his shoulders. Fernando Torres anyone?


Number 4 – Jo (Manchester City)

It’s safe to say that Mark Hughes had a difficult spell at Manchester City. Despite having the money available to buy the superstars and challenge for the league, it just didn’t work out for him. However, some of his transfers may explain why it didn’t work out. Hughes had signed Bridge and Santa Cruz, who both flopped at City but his worst transfer has to be Jo.

The Brazilian striker joined City in 2008 for £19 million, which was at the time a club record fee. After impressing in Russia (44 goals in 78 games), a lot was expected from the tall target man. However, he was anything but championship challenging material.

During his spell at City, Jo only managed six goals in 41 appearances. The City revolution made it even harder for Jo to seal his place at City, forcing him to go out on loan to Everton and Galatasaray. After struggling to force his way back into the team, he finally left to return to his native Brazil on a free. The Premier League has seen some fantastic Brazilians over its time but Jo has to be one of the worst.


Number 3 – Steve Marlet (Fulham)

There is one thing that Fulham must regret more than the Michael Jackson statue: Steve Marlet. In fact, Marlet must be one of the only footballers whose manager was summoned to court over the high fee surrounding him.

The striker joined Fulham from Lyon in 2001 for £11.5million which was at the time the Cottagers record fee. It wasn’t to be a good investment. In 55 games, Marlet returned only 11 goals before Fulham loaned him back to France for 18 months.

After the loan spell (for which Fulham were paying the majority of the wages) Marlet’s contract was then cancelled. With the huge transfer fee and high wages, Marlet must be one of the costliest transfers in Premier League history.

After Marlet moved on, owner Mohammed Al Fayed took Jean Tigana (the manager who signed Marlet) to court due to the over-payment of the fee. Al Fayed suspected that Tigana might have had links at Lyon and would be taking a cut of the fee himself. The charges were dropped but the ugly memories for Fulham fans still remain.


Number 2 – Francis Jeffers (Arsenal)

When Arsene Wegner finally leaves Arsenal he will be considered a legend by the majority of their fans. They’ll remember the invincible year, the FA Cup victories and Thierry Henry. One person who is certain to not be mentioned will be Francis Jeffers.

Jeffers burst onto the scene as a youngster at Everton. He showed a lot of promise linking up with Kevin Campbell and ended up with a scoring record of 1 goal in 3. When he left to join Arsenal for £8million, Everton fans were left hugely disappointed. But it was the chance for Jeffers to make it on the big stage and enhance his ‘fox in the box’ reputation.

However, he ended up being a big flop. With Henry and Wiltord leading the line, Jeffers had little opportunity to make his mark. In his only season at the club, Jeffers made 22 appearances, scoring only 4 times.

Despite winning an FA medal (although he was left out of the final squad) Jeffers was quick to leave Arsenal to rebuild his reputation. However, he never managed to do that. In 279 career games, Jeffers has scored only 50 goals, an awful record considering how much promise he initially showed. He’s also looking for a new club after a brief 2 game stint in Malta.

Whatever did you do Mr. Wenger?


Number 1 – Winston Bogarde (Chelsea)

“Chelsea offered me a contract, I signed the contract, so what is the problem?” These are the words of Winston Bogarde, the centre half made nine appearances in four years at Stamford Bridge.

And his career started so well. The Dutch defender spent the majority of his youth career in Holland, gaining many admires for his immense physical presence and powerful play. At Ajax he won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup as well as the Eredivisie twice. After a brief stint at Milan, Bogarde went to Barcelona where he was to win La Liga twice as well as earning an international call up for Holland.

Chelsea then bought Bogarde, giving him a four year contract worth £10million. It’s been reported that Bogarde was actually bought without manager Vialli even knowing, perhaps a reason for why he never featured. Despite being on £40,000, Bogarde only started four games for Chelsea, but still earned bonuses when Chelsea won silverware.

Due to his high wages, Chelsea couldn’t offload Bogarde to any club so he decided to stay to honour out his contract. He even spent his last season at Chelsea commuting in for training from his home at Ajax. However, the most remarkable thing is that Bograde is now bankrupt despite earning so much. It must be easy being a footballer.


Written by Craig Lishman

Follow him on Twitter @CraigLishman

Check out his new blog, Offside By A Country Mile

Please like O-Posts on Facebook

You can follow O-Posts on Twitter @OPosts