The 10 most expensive flops in Premier League history
The Premier League is one of the biggest and best leagues in world football.
Countless top talents have plied their trade in the English top-flight over the years. One of the reasons for this is the sheer financial power of the division.
Just this past summer, the current 20 Premier League clubs are estimated to have spent over £1.1b on transfers. In comparison, the Serie A was the second-highest spending league with a gross spend of £475m – less than half of the PL.
But with such financial muscle, there is bound to come some serious financial mistakes. With this in mind, 101 have taken a look at the 10 most expensive flops in Premier League history.
10) Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United) – £30.6m
Alexis Sanchez would sign for Manchester United in January of 2018 after a very fruitful spell at Arsenal.
The Chilean cost the Red Devils an estimated £30.6m, though it was actually a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Sanchez managed just three goals and six assists in his 32 league appearances for Manchester United, working out at £2.35m per goal contribution.
The South Americana would then be loaned to Inter Milan for 2019/20, before he later completed a free transfer to the Italian powerhouse in the summer of 2020.
9) Christian Benteke (Liverpool) – £32.5m
Christian Benteke made a name for himself in the Premier League with Aston Villa, netting 49 and assisting 12 in 101 games for the Villains.
The Belgian’s superb form for Villa earned him a transfer to Liverpool in 2015 for £32.5m.
However, Benteke’s form took a serious nosedive when he made the move to Merseyside, scoring just 10 and assisting six in 42 outings for Liverpool. This works out at £2.03m per goal contribution.
Benteke would go on to join Crystal Palace just one year on from his Liverpool switch and has never been able to recapture that form he found at Villa.
8) Sebastien Haller (West Ham) – £45m
The 2019 summer transfer window looked to be one filled with promise for West Ham. The Londoners spent over £80m on transfers, including bringing in Sebastien Haller, who was part of that impressive Eintracht Frankfurt side which also included now Real Madrid flop, Luka Jovic.
Like Jovic, Haller majorly flopped after departing Germany. The Ivorian made the switch to east London for £45m, which is a club record for West Ham.
Haller, though, scored just 14 and assisted three in 54 outings – costing West Ham over £2.6m per goal contribution.
Haller has since made the switch to the Netherland were he has scored a staggering 41 goals and provided 15 assists for Ajax.
7) Fernando Torres (Chelsea) – £50m
Fernando Torres is the first of a number of Chelsea stars to make it onto this list and goes a long way to providing proof of the ‘striker curse’ at Chelsea Football Club.
Torres made a name for himself in England with Liverpool. The Spaniard had pace, power and deadly finishing – scoring 81 goals and providing 21 assists in 142 ties for Liverpool.
The forward was then snapped up for a staggering £50m all the way back in 2011, which broke the British transfer record at the time.
Torres, though, went on to score just 20 Premier League goals in 110 outings for Chelsea. Comparatively, he scored 45 more league goals for Liverpool in eight less games.
6) Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham) – £53.8m
Tottenham snapped up Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon in 2019 for a club-record £53.8m. After reaching the Champions League final the season prior, Ndombele, along with a handful of other new signings, were expected to help Tottenham kick on and finally end their trophy drought.
However, both Spurs and Ndombele struggled greatly in 2019/20. The midfielder was compared to Paul Pogba before his switch to England but struggled to prove his worth under four separate permanent managers.
The Frenchman’s lack of fitness and work ethic proved to be the major issues before Ndombele was loaned back to Lyon in January. A major waste of money from Tottenham.
5) Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) – £60m
Another Chelsea striker, another flop.
Chelsea would sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017 for £60m, which was a club record for them at the time.
Morata went on to score 24 goals in 72 outings for Chelsea. Not the worst return in the world, but those who watched Chelsea closely during that time will be well aware of how poor Morata was in front of goal.
The Spaniard would leave Chelsea on loan in January of 2019 before departing permanently in 2020. His goal-scoring ability has remained similarly dubious.
4) Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – £72m
Arsenal, despite some very questionable spending over the last several years, only have one entrant on this list, but it is certainly not a cheap one.
Nicolas Pepe would cost Arsenal a club-record £72m in the summer of 2019. Pepe had scored 22 and assisted 11 in 38 Ligue 1 outings the campaign before his switch to Arsenal, so it is easy to see why Lille demanded so much for the Ivorian.
However, Pepe has since been a major flop, with the majority of his goal contributions coming against subpar teams in the Europa League and domestic cups.
So far this season, Pepe has scored no goals and provided one assist in 10 Premier League matches, and is well below the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe in the Arsenal winger pecking order.
3) Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) -£71.8m
Kepa Arrizabalaga was snapped up by Chelsea in the summer of 2018. The Blues paid a staggering £71.8m for the Spaniard, which remains the world-record fee for a goalkeeper.
Kepa, though, had a rough start to life in England, making a number of high-profile mistakes that eventually led to Chelsea bringing in their current no.1, Edouard Mendy, in September of 2020 for a fraction of the price they paid for Kepa.
The Ondarroa-native has since shown flashes of quality when given the chance by Thomas Tuchel and he could still become a solid keeper if given more minutes, but there is no escaping the fact Chelsea now have a nearly £72m sub goalkeeper.
The failure of Kepa’s transfer is made even more noticeable when you realise Liverpool paid £67m for Alisson Becker in the same summer and he has gone on to help transform Liverpool’s backline.
2) Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – £89m
If there is one deal that sums up the mess that is the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era of Manchester United, it is the transfer of Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman had spent several years in Manchester United’s youth system before he left for Juventus on a free transfer.
Manchester United then paid a whopping £89m – a world-record fee at the time – to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford in 2016.
Pogba has since been one of the most frustratingly inconsistent players to watch. The 28-year-old has clear talent but often opts not to show it on a regular basis. As a result, one of United’s weakest areas for the last several years has been central midfield – something you should not be seeing if you have spent £89m on a midfielder.
He has also cost Manchester United exactly £1m per goal contribution during his second spell at the club.
But what is perhaps most disconcerting is that Pogba now looks set to leave Manchester United for free for a second time when his contract expires in the summer of 2022.
1) Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea) £97.5m
Romelu Lukaku made a triumphant return to Chelsea this past summer. The hitman set Chelsea back £97.5m, which is the second most expensive transfer in British football at the time of writing.
After failing to make it in west London during his younger years, Lukaku departed the club and went on to showcase his ability both in England and Italy – most recently winning the Serie with Inter Milan and ending Juventus’ reign of dominance.
And with Chelsea flying high under Thomas Tuchel, there was an expectation that Lukaku was the final piece of the Chelsea jigsaw as they preparade to mount a proper title charge in 2021/22 on the back of their Champions League triumph.
However, Lukaku has since fallen majorly out of favour at the Bridge. His last outing saw the 28-year-old have just seven touches vs Crystal Palace – a performance that led to him being dropped by Tuchel for Chelsea’s clash with Lille on Tuesday, with that decision actually pleasing Chelsea fans on social media.
A nightmare start to what was expected to be a fairy tale return for Lukaku.
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