Premier League’s Biggest Transfer Flops

This article is a submission for the Soccerlens Football Writing Competition; to participate, please read the details here.

How much does true class and talent cost? In the football world, a lot. Or nothing. It depends. You could be paying Winston Bogarde his 160 000 Pounds a month salary. Or instead you could take that months salary and invest it in a Kolo Toure. This article takes a look at the Bogarde’s of our time.

Admittedly this article has been done to death, but I’m sure with my bag of clichés and feeble sarcasm, I can put a whole new spin on things.

So here goes… in no particular order… besides alphabetical…

Nicolas Anelka

Established himself as a top-class striker at Arsenal, but after interest came from Real Madrid, Nick forced a move which got Arsenal ₤22.3 million (Which bought them a new training ground and a Thierry Henry) and Real got one crap striker who scored 4 goals in 29 appearances before moving on at the end of the season. He’s been to Paris Saint Germain, Manchester City, Fenerbahçe and is currently at Bolton Wanderers. Still considered a top class striker though, and it seems only a matter of time before a big name manager is again willing to take a risk on Le Sulk. Until then, you can hear his weekly rants about life at a small club… in any paper.

Bosko Balaban

Left Dinamo Zagreb where he was the league’s highest scorer to join Aston Villa for ₤5.8 pounds. He played 9 games in all (7 as a substitute) and didn’t succeed in scoring a single goal. He did have a funny name though. Balaban. Good stuff. It was fun to listen to Ron Atkinson saying Balabalan is about to come on.

Winston Bogarde

If ever proof was needed that footballers are amoral mercenaries than all you had to do was look at Chelsea’s reserve squad. There proudly sitting on the bench would be the useless turd that is Winston Bogarde, Signed on a free from Barcelona, two weeks later then Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri asked him to leave. He refused saying that no one would pay him what Chelsea did. He proceeded to see out his contract on the Chelsea reserve bench and it was only when Abramovich came to the club with his bevy of snipers that Bogarde decided it was the right time to retire. While sitting on the Chelsea (reserves) bench he took out the time to pen an autobiography in which he confirmed that he was indeed the greediest and laziest player to ever take to football. It was entitled, This Nigger bows to no one… Really.

Jean-Alain Boumsong

Not the worst of flops, but Newcastle did get a raw deal after signing him from Rangers in 2005 for ₤8 million (Ranger’s got him for free). He started off decently but soon got so bad that his defending was calamitous even by Newcastle standards (They of Titus Bramble fame). After costing loads of points and near the end of 2006, he was shipped off to… (wait for it) Juventus.

Tomas Brolin

The man made a name for himself at AC Parma and at the 1994 World Cup with a few stunning goals. At the end of 1995 he moved to Leeds for ₤4.5 million and after arriving with weight problems, ‘Tubby’ scored a shocking 4 goals in 2 seasons all the while heavily lining the pockets of every McDonald’s manager in Leeds. Leeds terminated his contract in 1997 and it was all over for Fatty.

Bruno Cheyrou

Came to Liverpool for ₤4.5 million and even though he was dubbed the “Next Zidane”. In his four years at Liverpool the only similarities to Zidane were a similar hairstyle. After being loaned out for two seasons to Marseille and Bordeaux without much (read: no) success. Bruno was snapped up by Rennes for the 2006/07 season.


Christiano Ronaldo without a brain would be a very apt title with which to describe Denilson. After signing for Betis for a then record 21.9 million Pounds, he proceeded to dribble himself for 7 years, before everyone realized how crap he really was. After an unsuccessful spell with Bordeaux, he decided to test his talent in the fairer climes of Saudi Arabia and FC Dallas. He seems to have found his level. Except FC Dallas don’t want him anymore.

Ali Dia

He slipped into English football under the watchful eye of Graeme Souness after Souness received a call from “George Weah” saying that Dia was his cousin. Souness, who apparently doesn’t believe in watching a player train, gave Dia a 1-month contract. After coming on as a sub in his first match, he was subbed after 20 minutes and kicked out of the club after two weeks. Widely considered to be the worst player to ever play in the Premier League. Which is bad. Because even Schevchenko has played in England.

Salif Diao

The injury-prone wonder, who was snapped up by Gerard Houllier after an impressive 2002 World Cup. He went on to make the physio earn his cash, playing only 37 times in 4 seasons. Maybe it was Houllier’s fault for not playing him in his preferred position at Liverpool and so he was considered a failure, going on season loans to Birmingham and Portsmouth, getting injured early on in the season both times. He then went on loan to Stoke City where he found his feet and got a permanent transfer. Maybe not a happily ever after ending, but at least his fairy Godmother didn’t abandon him (Actually she did. Even Stoke City told him to piss off). You can tell I’m a girl, right?

Eric Djemba-Djemba

One of Sir Alex’ biggest flops, the Cameroonian could never find his feet at Manchester United. Signed as a long term replacement for Roy Keane, Djemba squared was more clumsy and pathetic than aggressive and physical. Being sold to Aston Villa didn’t help him much either, playing only once for the club and being loaned out on semi-successful spells, he eventually left Aston and now plays in Qatar, where he apparently survives on a diet of Slushies and Naan bread.

Francis Jeffers

The best ever strike rate for an English striker (A goal a game) boded well for Francis Jeffers. Too bad he only ever played one game for England and is considered the biggest flop in Arsene Wengers reign at Arsenal, Jeffers was the Wayne Rooney of Everton… ummm… You know what I mean. Jeffers caught the eye of Wenger by scoring 20 times in 60 matches and despite being offered record terms by Everton chose to join Arsene army for ₤8 million. And aren’t Everton glad that he did. 4 goals in 4 seasons for Arsenal, the jug eared one struggled with Arsenal’s brand of free flowing football. He’s now at Sheffield Wednesday,

Jose Kleberson

Another flop that happened when he went to Manchester United. Kleberson was in the words of Big Phil Scolari the driving force of the Brazil team that won the 2002 World Cup (If driving force suddenly means hiding behind the skills of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho than yes… yes he was. As a matter of fact if that’s what it means than so was I). That was good enough for Alex Ferguson who signed him for ₤6.5 million but he never got a good go, being injured early in the start of the season and playing as if he had two left feet, both of them with the big toe cut off and very long toe nails. Only after leaving, did he accuse Sir Alex of not putting enough faith in him. Which tells you what an all round braveheart he was.

Albert Luque

This dude rocked at Deportivo (isn’t that such a fun name to say?) and it was no wonder that Newcastle United were willing to fork over ₤9.5 million for the player. But as soon as he stepped on English shores, his luck failed him, not only was he injured in his second game, he lost his first team place and his confidence. After Damien Duff was signed to patrol the Newcastle left wing, Luque’s career seemed completely dead. It was thought if you walked around St. James’ Park after 10, you can hear the ghost of his career crying. Or it could just be Alan Shearer after listening to himself on MOTD. I like to believe it’s Luque though, He was signed by Ajax at the end of last season, scoring a goal on debut. Than he got injured.

Steve Marlet

Fulham’s largest transfer (₤11.5 million) and cause of the (figurative) death of Fulham manager Jean Tigana who brought him to the club. He only scored 11 goals in 54 games and was loaned to Olympique Marsielle to record a similar “impact”. He’s now desperately trying to nab a contract with Ipswich…

Serhiy Rebrov

Pfft, a Russian league bully. Anywhere else, he sucks. Serhiy made a name for himself at Dynamo Kyiv alongside Andrei Schevchenko, where genuine questions were raised as to who was the more talented of the two. After transferring to Tottenham Hotspur (Where amazingly he was hailed as a saviour by Tottenham fans and the Spurs answer to Dennis Bergkamp… so no pressure then) He fulfilled their dreams of being the next Dennis Bergkamp, if the Dennis Bergkamp we’re referring to is the gay, fat, Dutch kid that plays Lacrosse for St. Davids elementary. If we’re referring to the non flying Dutchman… than… HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Andriy Shevchenko

A legend at AC Milan, Andriy hasn’t been anything more than a billionaire’s plaything at Chelsea. The star moved there for ₤30 million… but hasn’t come near to finding the form he had previously. And he’s 30…that’s a disgusting sum to pay for someone who’s basically over the hill in football world. With Chelsea now in disarray, is it any wonder that Sheva prefers golfing than a day in training? No really… He’d rather play golf than train. It’s truly one of the saddest sights in football history to watch the once great Ukranian predator miscontrol a through ball and watch as he’s outpaced by Linvoy Primus. Sad,

Chris Sutton

Another Chelsea flop, Sutton never really did much at Chelsea in one season, after transferring from Blackburn Rovers for ₤10 million. Luckily he did better at Celtic forming a deadly partnership with Henrik Larsson. Aaah, the Scottish League, a retirement home for below average English strikers.

Massimo Taibi

Stars as the ‘Blind Venetian’. He proves that playing well might not get you praises but screwing up a few times will have people laughing at your chubby ass forever. Bought by Manchester United for ₤4.4 million, he only played in 4 games in which his form was atrocious (Think Paul Robinson times a million… no wait… Think Paul Robinson, that is all). He later returned to Serie A, where people didn’t laugh at him so much.

Juan-Sebastian Veron

Possibly the worst ever buy for Manchester United after they paid Lazio ₤28.1 million for him. He found the culture shock hard to take after being the head playmaker at Lazio where flair players were appreciated and covered by two defensive midfielders, to being a part of a midfield where he was expected to put in a tackle now and again. As far as having a defensive midfielder cover for him… forget it. Roy Keane looked more likely to gouge his eyes out with spoons before donating his legs to Alf Inge Haaland following a “make up” dinner. ManU became so desperate to unload him after 2 seasons and shockingly Chelsea obliged, buying him for half price. He did even worse there, scoring once in his season there before he was loaned out to Inter and then Estudiantes.

And I guess that’s it. Maybe you won’t agree with all the guys on the list, but shit happens. Even to guys worth ₤30 million…actually, especially to guys worth ₤30 million. It’s only fair.

This article is a submission for the Soccerlens Football Writing Competition; to participate, please read the details here.

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