Premier League transfers have made history for better and for worse, exchanging millions in return for the industry’s biggest names. But sometimes, it doesn’t all go according to plan. Here are the top 10 worst and most costly transfers that the Premier League has ever seen.
10 – Juan Mata – Chelsea to Manchester United, January 2014 – £37 million
The brilliantly talented Spanish midfielder set Chelsea alight, scoring 32 goals for the club during 130 performances. Moving to Manchester United with a sign up fee of £37 million, his start was a bit hit and miss, with substitutes and injuries. Time will tell if Mata can be as good as before.
9 – Roque Santa Cruz – Blackburn Rovers to Manchester City, August 2009 – £17.5 million
Although he was bought by Manchester City for £17.5 million on a four-year deal, Santa Cruz only had one good season in his career in Blackburn. Manchester City were feeling a little flush and bought four other great forwards, meaning that poor Roque was on the bench more than the field.
8 – Angel Di Maria – Real Madrid to Manchester, August 2014 – £59.7 million
A brilliant player in Madrid, Di Maria joined Man United for a staggering £59.7 million. After a year of struggling to settle into the team he was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £44 million, where he’s found his striking excellence once again.
7 – Roberto Soldado – Valencia to Tottenham, August 2013 – £26 million
Spanish striker has Real Madrid, Valencia and Getafe on his CV, scoring an impressive 29 goals in 60 league appearances for the latter. He was swiftly sold to Tottenham Hotspur, who were mourning the loss of Gareth Bale, for £26 million. This lucky streak ran out and Soldado only netted 16 goals in 76 games for Tottenham. He returned to Spain in Villareal (for £10 million) in 2015.
6 – Steve Marlet – Lyon to Fulham, 2001 – £11.5 million
Bought for the sizable sum of £11.5 million, but this French player was so bad that the Fulham owner accused Jean Tigana, Fulham’s French coach, of over-charging the transfer and pocketing the cash. Marlet headed back to France after 50 games and only 11 goals.
5 – Juan Sebastian Veron – Lazio Rome to Manchester United, 2001 – £28 million
Over 15 years ago, Veron was one of the best midfielders in the sport and Lazio Rome was at the top of their game. He was transferred for the record sum (at the time) of £28 million to Manchester United for a five-year deal. After what looked like an impressive start, the English pace and style got the better of him and he couldn’t find his place in the United midfield.
4 – Andriy Shevchenko – AC Milan to Chelsea, May 2006 – £30 million
Winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or with AC Milan in 2006, Shevchenko was classed as one of the best forwards of his generation. But after moving to Chelsea for the deal of £30 million, his flourish turned to a flop. Continuous injuries and goals missed meant he sat on the bench for the majority of his time.
3 – Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea, January 2011 – £50 million
Torres’s, Liverpool’s Spanish striker, made transfer history with the astronomical transfer fee of £50 million when he was bought by Chelsea in 2011. Despite his popularity and success at Liverpool, Torres failed to take off after his move to Chelsea . Whatever the critics said, Torres deemed the move a success, despite only scoring 20 goals in three years.
2 – Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool, January 2011 – £35 million
After selling Torres to Chelsea, Liverpool had some cash to spare. Choosing to put most of their eggs in one basket, they bought Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll for a record fee of £35 million.
Caroll wasn’t a top goal scorer, but he was young, tall, athletic, and a great prospect. However, his track record didn’t improve, but the number of alcohol-related incidents did. Caroll was soon loaned and then sold to West Ham for £15 million, where he’s since not performed any better.
1 – Mario Balotelli – AC Milan to Liverpool (and back again), August 2014 – £16 million
Renowned for his bad behavior but good score record as AC Milan’s striker, Balotelli joined the Reds in 2013 for the cool price of £16 million and a string of incidents on his record. His feisty attitude remained but he lost his edge on the field, with only 4 goals scored in 28 games. This disappointing performance led to the rupture of his three-year contract with Liverpool, who loaned him back to (guess who?) AC Milan in August 2015. With a massively subsided salary and mounting pressure, Balotelli promised to “work and not speak”.
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