In lieu of the festive season, here’s a chance for a few Premier League teams to look back on past misdemeanours and regret. This countdown of the ten most overpriced players in recent years actually wouldn’t make a bad team on paper; however, their current managers might not care to remember just how much money they spent on these players, all of whom have failed to justify their price tag.
Some have been hampered by injury, others seemed like a good idea at the time, and the players themselves are certainly not entirely to blame. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, good money was wasted on:
10. Ramires. Last summer, Chelsea lost the combined talents of Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Deco. To fill the void in their midfield, they paid £17m for Ramires. Yet to score in 16 appearances for the champions, the Brazilian has shown little to justify his price tag, and does not even compensate for the loss of one of the aforementioned trio, let alone all three.
9. Theo Walcott. In 2006, Arsenal paid £12m for the teenage Walcott, who has since then enjoyed stuttering spells in the starting line-up, with Arsene Wenger seemingly protecting his player in preparation for a career which will never be given the chance to get off the ground. When he makes an appearance for England, Walcott’s shortcomings are exposed every time, yet the occasional goal for Arsenal is apparently always enough to prove just what an exceptional talent he is. Thus far, he’s got 13 in four seasons.
8. Alberto Luque. Newcastle paid £9.5m to Deportivo La Coruna for the Spaniard, and got three goals out of him in two years. Perhaps worst for Newcastle was the fact that Luque’s transfer was one of those embroiled in the Stevens Report of 2006, investigating corruption in transfer dealings.
Any way you look at it, Luque’s outlandish price tag brought the Magpies nothing but trouble.
7. Owen Hargreaves. United needed a holding midfielder, Hargreaves had finally established himself as one of the best, and a fee of around £18m looked like a fair price. Yet Hargreaves’ chronic injury is such that it even makes the experts shudder, and now all fans ever hear of the former England man is that he is nearing recovery and full training… before he’s set back another four weeks. He may never play at the same level again, and certainly never at that which made his transfer seem fair at the time.
Given the choice again, Fergie would almost certainly go for Wesley Sneijder or Bastian Schweinsteiger. However, Hargreaves’ injury is neither his, nor his manger’s, fault.
6. However, paying £28m and breaking the British transfer record for Juan Sebastian Veron is a mistake entirely of Fergie’s making. A midfield of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs had no room to accommodate the Argentine, and it certainly didn’t need him, either. Waste of money doesn’t quite cover Veron’s time at Old Trafford…and he didn’t do much better at Chelsea, either. Having seen him play at United, Chelsea really should have known better.
5. Alberto Aquilani. In the summer of 2009, this was to be Rafa Benitez’s £20m replacement for Xabi Alonso, to ensure the Liverpool fans that the club would continue to push for the league title, having come so close the season before. Biggest problem? Benitez was trying to replace a creative, holding midfield playmaker with a much more forward-minded, attacking midfielder.
Needless to say, it didn’t work; Aquilani came to the club with a long-term injury anyway, flopped quite dramatically after that, and is currently on loan at Juventus. However, perhaps most worrying for the Anfield faithful is the fact that Roy Hodgson has yet to sign anyone better!
4. David Bentley. The man who makes Cristiano Ronaldo look humble; David Bentley’s undying love for himself transcends all physical bounds and social conventions. Just watch him pout, preen and pose next time he plays.
If he plays, that is. He will never dislodge Aaron Lennon from Spur’s right flank, and his £15m price tag makes his transfer from Blackburn Rovers all the more baffling.
3. But not as baffling as Manchester City paying at least £22m for Joleon Lescott. Yes, he’s not a bad defender, and yes, at the time City just needed to make some big signings regardless of cost. But £22m for Lescott? Come on, now.
2. Adrian Mutu. Similar story to the Lescott signing, in so much that Chelsea were also simply looking to spend big and show their intentions when they forked out £15m-plus for the striker. Yet despite a good scoring record for his former clubs, Mutu failed to deliver at Stamford Bridge, netting only 6 times in 27 appearances.
That and the fact that he tested positive for Cocaine and was subsequently dismissed by Chelsea would make him a good candidate for the top spot on this list.
But to my mind nothing beats…
1. Andriy Shevchenko. In 2006, Chelsea broke the transfer record to land the AC Milan striker for £30m. During his long Serie A career, he was regarded as one of the best in Europe, and that’s exactly what Chelsea thought they had signed.
They hadn’t. Shevchenko looked out of place from the moment he appeared in the Premiership, and only managed 7 goals before returning to former club, Dynamo Kyiv. For the sheer promise, the huge failure and the record-breaking fee, Shevchenko’s transfer to Chelsea makes his the most overpriced Premiership transfer in recent times.
So, that’s the list as I see it, but I’m sure you could think of some alternative names, so let’s here them..!