Transfer windows generate a host of excitement for football fans everywhere, but for every new star signing, there’s a high profile bust.
Most football fans will remember the excessive fees spent on players like Andy Carroll or the unbelievable story behind Ali Día. But for nostalgia’s sake, let’s take a trip down memory lane to relive some of the lesser remembered blunders.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing in football, and these clubs will wish they held onto their receipts!
West Ham shattered their transfer record in January 2009, paying £9 million to welcome the Ugandan-born German attacker commonly known as Savio. The 19-year-old had shown glimpses of brilliance playing for Brescia in the Italian top flight and boasted an impressive resume capped off by being voted player of the tournament in the European under-19 championships.
Hope quickly evaporated. Savio was simply out of his depth in the EPL. His lightweight frame and inability to deal with any physical pressure led to him being shipped off to Fiorentina a mere six months later for a substantial loss.
Almost a decade on, Savio’s fall from grace has been monumental. He has represented 13 clubs and scored only one goal since leaving West Ham, most recently turning out for FC Vereya in Bulgaria. Laughably, in 2012 he faked his own kidnapping and attempted to extort his family – unsurprisingly this also failed and he was promptly arrested by Thai authorities.
During the early stages of the Roman Abramovich era, fans were salivating over the amount of talent that came into Stamford Bridge. This period saw the foundation for what has become a long and successful period for the Blues, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss.
While Shevchenko’s ill-fated spell and Adrian Mutu’s off-field issues became front-page news for Chelsea fans, there was another striker whose reputation crashed and burned in West London – Mateja Kezman.
The Serbian goal machine joined Chelsea in 2004 for £5.3 million with high confidence, having turned out 179 times for PSV in all competitions and netting a staggering 129 goals.
Like many other prolific strikers playing in the Eredevise, Kezman failed to transition to England as he looked overawed by the big stage and utterly impotent as a finisher. All in all, Kezman scored four goals in 25 league games, including an injury-time penalty and a few goals against teams who went on to be relegated. He was quickly shipped off after just one season.
The No.9 jersey in football is associated with the classic centre-forward, but Arsene Wenger must have missed the memo. Some miserably underwhelming strikers donned the No.9 during his tenure, including Julio Baptista, Francis Jeffers and Lucas Perez, but none failed the role as much as the former golden boy of South Korean football, Park Chu-Young.
The 2011 transfer window ended with Arsenal making several late panic buys, including the Korean, who signed for £3 million from Monaco. The striker had enjoyed an astonishing youth career at international level but quickly found himself out of sorts at Arsenal. It is one of the most baffling transfers in recent times, as after being brought to the club, Park made just one league appearance – a ten-minute cameo against rivals Manchester United.
He had such limited game time that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what his deficiencies were, but clearly the Arsenal hierarchy had no faith in him, as they promptly shipped him off on several loan moves before he joined Al-Shabab in 2014.
El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf’s starring role for Senegal in the 2002 World Cup made the £10 million that Liverpool agreed to pay Lens before the tournament seem a bargain. Interchanging as a winger and forward, the then 21-year-old tormented defenders with his dynamic pace and flair.
Diouf’s questionable attitude railroaded his undeniable talent, leading to only three league goals in 55 appearances. Jamie Carragher went on to say that had never met one “who seemed to care less about winning or losing”.
Liverpool fans began to lose patience with Diouf when he was involved in several controversies, including several incidents of spitting at opposition fans, one of which was directed at an 11-year-old.
Diouf continued to find trouble after leaving Anfield, racially abusing a ball boy in 2009 and taunting QPR’s Jamie Mackie in 2011 while he writhed on the ground with a broken leg. His verbal war with KOP heroes Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard continues to this day.
Gilberto da Silva Melo
Gilberto Silva was a monstrous Brazilian defensive midfielder who served as a valuable member of Arsenal’s Invincibles campaign. Unfortunately we are focusing on a different Gilberto from North London, his similarly named but far less famous compatriot Gilberto da Silva Melo
Joining Tottenham in 2008, the £2 million left back from Hertha Berlin is about as forgettable as they come (seriously, who is this guy?). His debut resulted in a comical blunder leading directly to PSV scoring before he was substituted at half-time.
To add to this, in three of his six league starts he was also dragged at half-time, which surely must be some kind of record. In fairness to the Brazilian, he did manage to score a league goal against West Ham before his contract was mutually terminated in 2009.
While Tottenham fans cringe at the memory of his sloppy defensive work, the most baffling part of this tale is that Gilberto somehow managed to represent his native Brazil 35 times.
Hopefully you enjoyed that trip down memory lane – although it might bring back some painful for moments for some fans! There are many other players who are worthy of being on this list, if you can remember some of the premier leagues more forgotten failures please leave them below!