The English Premier League is arguably the best football league in the world. Some of the best players in the world entertain fans week in, week out with their flair and skills. Talents from all over the world are enticed to these shores with the prospect of gaining success and great financial reward.
Over the years many professional footballers have enjoyed these opportunities and attained sporting success and the associated wealth.
However for every success story there is a story of failure. Players who have failed to get to grips with the style of play in the Premiership. Players who have been over hyped and overpriced. The result of these failures can be extremely costly to the clubs in question.
We look at the five most costly failures in recent memory:
Seth Johnson (Derby County to Leeds)
In 2001 Johnson was one of the brightest prospects in the English game. So much so that big spending Leeds United signed the tough tackling youngster for £7m from Derby. Quite an excessive fee for a young prospect, especially in 2001. Rumour has it that Johnson and his agent went into negotiations with a figure of £13,000 a week as a target.
When then chairman Peter Ridsdale offered them £30,000 a week right off the bat they must have laughed all the way to the bank. Johnson unfortunately had four years of injury at Leeds before moving back to Derby in 2005 for free, and Leeds dropped out of top flight football in a cloud of debt.
Ali Dia (Blyth Spartans to Southampton)
The Ali Dia story has gone down in Premier League folklore. Signed by Graeme Souness in 1996 after he reportedly got a phone call from Liberian international and former FIFA world player of the year George Wear. ‘Wear’ urged Souness to sign Dia whom he outlined was his cousin, had played for Pairs Saint-Germain, and his country thirteen times.
Unfortunately for Souness non of this was true, and in-fact the phone call was not from Wear at all but a fellow university student of Dia’s. Souness fell for the ruse however and duly signed Dia on a one month contract. Dia played 20 minutes as a substitute for the Saints where he displayed all the skill of the amateur footballer he actually was, before being substituted himself. His contract was cancelled two weeks later much to the embarracement of Souness and the club’s owners.
Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan to Chelsea)
This was the one big money transfer that surely couldn’t go wrong for Abramovich, right? For an incredible £30.8m for the then 29 year old he was getting arguably the best striker in the world. Shevers had scored 127 goals in 226 appearances for Milan.
Unfortunately for Blues fans they were never to see the best from the Ukrainian as he struggled to adapt to English football. A disappointing return of nine goals in 46 appearances ensured a loan spell back to Milan and the end of a troubled period in an otherwise glittering career.
Massimo Taibi (Venezia to Manchester United)
In his search for a replacement for goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel Fergie obviously had a hard job on his hands. For a brief period he thought Taibi may have been the answer.
A very brief period. Signed from Venezia for £4.5m in 1999, Taibi made a number of high profile gaffs in his four appearances for United, most notably letting a Matt Le Tissier long shot slowly trickle through his legs. Dubbed the blind Venetian by one newspaper.
Winston Bogarde (Barcelona to Chelsea)
Bogarde is a cautionary tale for big spending clubs. Signed during Gianluca Vialli’s reign although reportedly without his knowledge, Bogarde had a valuable contract.
For his £40,000 a week over four years he made only a staggering four appearances. But as he stated himself, why would he move on when he knew no other club would pay him anywhere near that figure? So he just stayed and collected.