Friday, January 06, 2012

The Worst Foreign Transfer Deals in Premier League History!

Any fan of Premier League football will have at sometime seen some of the world's best players grace football pitches up and down the country, week in and week out. Their breathless skills, sheer talent and the panache they possess for the game often leave us captivated and at times mesmerised!

It is that time of the year again when some football club owners will be considering whether or not to open up their chequebooks, and give the managers of their businesses carte blanche to invest outrageous sums of money on one or two 'big name' players, that could ultimately define the outcome of the season - be it in success or failure!

However, every now and then you get some transfer deals which quite frankly don't work out. Maybe its the high pressure and tempo of Premier League football, the inability to settle in England, the size of the transfer fee and the resultant high expectations of the fans, or possibly they are just suffering from a dip in form.
There are unquestionably numerous reasons why certain players just don't live up to expectations.

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, there have been dozens of players over the years who fit into this category, but I ask you, which ones can be best described as quite simply 'the worst foreign Premier League signings of all time.'

Here is my own list of players that I consider fall into that category!

Winston Bogarde - (Barcelona to Chelsea, 2000, Free Transfer)

While I’m sure many of you will wonder how Bogarde could possibly be in the top 10 worst signings considering he arrived at Stamford Bridge on a free transfer, the Dutchman’s transfer fee isn't what cost the club, but his high wages were.

Chelsea gave the Holland centre half a four-year contract worth £10m when he moved to London on a free transfer in July 2000.

The Gordon Gecko of Premier League football, Bogarde bled Chelsea dry for £40,000 a week over a four year period, clocking up just a dozen or so appearances. He famously didn’t even own a house in London, flying in for training in order to honour his contract to the letter.

In his own words: "This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership, but I don’t care, I am the best Chelsea pickpocket in history."

He even picked up a contractual bonus following the Blues 2000 FA Cup win, despite Bogarde not featuring at all for Chelsea that season.

The deal was a complete waste of money on the part of Chelsea. Bogarde seemed to typify a foreign player who came to England for nothing but the money. Often referred to by the term 'mercenary' in the modern era!

As Bogarde succinctly put it: "This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership, but I don't care."

Massimo Taibi - (Venezia to Manchester United, 1999, £4.5 million)

Massimo Taibi has to be considered not only the worst transfer of all time but also one of, if not the worst keeper to ever grace the Premier League. Taibi was brought to the club in 1999 by Sir Alex Ferguson who splashed out £4.5m on the Venezian journeyman as a potential replacement for United legend Peter Schmeichel, but many soon found out that the Italian shot stopper was going to become a legend at United for all the wrong reasons.

Taibi was competing with the other two Manchester United goalkeepers, Mark Bosnich and Raimond van der Gouw, for the first-team place. Taibi conceded two sloppy goals at Liverpool on his debut and one to Wimbledon the following week. Then the fun began: Southampton scored three at Old Trafford, including a Matthew Le Tissier 'shot' that trickled through Taibi's legs and was so soft, it barely dribbled over the line. This left the former Milan keeper red faced with embarrassment and the United faithful red faced in anger. This led to Taibi being dubbed 'The Blind Venetian' by one newspaper. Eight days later, Chelsea put five past him at Stamford Bridge and this Italian’s job was over, little more than a month after it had began.

Taibi was left to rot in the United reserves after making only four first-team appearances, until Reggina took him first on loan, before he eventually completed a £2.5m transfer to the Italian side in July 2000. His very brief spell at Manchester United will never be forgotten, even if only for the wrong reasons!

Taibi went on to play over 500 top flight matches for eleven different clubs during an eventful career, before he announced his retirement from football in 2009.

Adrian Mutu - (Parma to Chelsea, 2003, £15.8 million)

Adrian Mutu’s move to Chelsea filled many of the Stamford Bridge faithful with optimism as to what he could possibly do in a Blues shirt.

The Romanian's first season started well, but the goals dried up and his relationship with José Mourinho soured soon after Mourinho arrived the following summer. Not long into his second season at Chelsea Mutu failed a drugs test, and his cocaine bust resulted in the 31 year old being immediately sacked from the club.

In early 2005 Chelsea started legal proceedings against Mutu for breach of contract, and they were eventually awarded €17 million in compensation. The case has been appealed from one court to the next, and Chelsea still haven't received their compensation as it stands. I'm sure they regret signing Mutu and all the trouble he brought with him.

Marco Boogers - (Sparta Rotterdam to West Ham, 1995, £1 million)

Possibly one of the worst and funniest transfers of all time. After arriving at the club, Boogers second appearance for the Hammers saw the Dutchman receive a red card against Manchester United for 'a horror tackle' on Gary Neville, which was to be the start to a rather odd story.

Upon receiving the red card, Boogers then decided to go AWOL, disappearing from the club with no one knowing of his whereabouts. Some days later it was alleged that the player had been found depressed and hiding out in a mobile home on a Dutch caravan site. The Boogers debacle resulted in a rather bewildered Harry Redknapp at first loaning him out, before allowing the Dutchman to leave on a subsequent free transfer to FC Groningen despite his protestations - "I'm not mental."

Redknapp later berated Boogers in an interview and claimed he never saw Boogers play, and that he contracted him on a whim based on a videotape where he appeared to be a world class player. Boogers himself disputes this and says scouts from West Ham United attended several of his matches with Sparta before signing him.

Bosko Balaban - (Dianamo Zagreb to Aston Villa, 2001, £6.5 million)

Signed by John Gregory for £6.5 million from Zagreb in 2001, the Croatian striker played just nine times (seven as a substitute) and he did not start a single league game for Aston Villa in his two and a half years at the club.

He was loaned back to Dinamo Zagreb for the 2002–03 season, scoring 15 times in 24 appearances.

In December 2003, Aston Villa released Balaban from his contract with a £1m pay-off declaring on his departure that "Villa is all bullshit."
He signed for Club Brugge on a free transfer. In the 2004–05 season, he scored 25 goals in 24 appearances for the club and in the 2005–06 season, he scored 27 goals in 30 games for the Belgian side.

Balaban certainly knows where the back of the net is, as he is seemingly able to score freely for every club he has represented, but for whatever reason he was clearly unable to impress in England. He currently plys his trade in the Greek Super League with Panionios.

Michele Padovano - (Juventus to Crystal Palace, 1997, £1.7 million)

Former Crystal Palace chairman Mark Goldberg, signed Padovano from Juventus reserves in November 1997 for £1.7m in a typically ill-considered move. Handing the Italian an enormous contract in the hope that gratitude alone would spur him to score the goals to beat relegation, Goldberg touted his newest expensive arrival as the answer to Palace's prayers.

In the event, the long-haired, out-of-condition forward scored once, against Leicester City, played just twelve times for the South London club, and came to embody the club's failings. Utterly disinterested, Padovano never played more than two games in a row, and, after his twelfth appearance, settled contentedly into reserve team football, before leaving on a free to join Metz in 1998.

When Crystal Palace were in receivership during the 1999-2000 season, Padovano made a million-pound claim against the club's directors for lost wages.

In May 2006, he was arrested by Italian police in Torino over allegation of his implication in hashish traffic and was later sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in jail.

Alberto Aquilani - (Roma to Liverpool, 2009, £17 million plus add-ons)

Alberto Aquilani is a prime example of a player who just didn’t cut the mustard when arriving in England. The Italian created a large reputation back in his native country with a number of key performances for Roma, resulting in then Anfield boss Rafa Benitez splashing out £17 million initially and handing the 26 year-old a five-year contract in August 2009.

The beginning of his Liverpool career was plagued by injury, but when he did play he did little to wet the appetite of the fans of the Merseyside club. In August 2010, a deal between Liverpool and Juventus was agreed, to allow Aquilani to go on a one season loan deal to Juventus with an option of a permanent move. Aquilani returned to Liverpool after Juventus decided against making his transfer permanent, the club's owners declining to meet the previously agreed £14m transfer fee. In August 2011 it was announced that Aquilani would be would be returning to Serie A, joining AC Milan on loan for the 2011-2012 season with Milan having an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.......we shall have to wait and see what Milan decide, but his days at Anfield are numbered.

Andrea Silenzi - (Torino to Nottingham Forest, 1995, £1.8 million)

Signed from Torino in 1995 by Frank Clark for Nottingham Forest, Silenzi became the first ever Italian to play in the Premier League. The 6'3" centre-forward, known as 'the Big Brush' made just seven starts (20 appearances in total). Silenzi was a picture of disinterest. Earning a then enormous £30,000 a month, his laid-back control, finishing and approach play soon had management and supporters worried.

It took just weeks for the deal to look suspect, a month for it to look plain wrong and another month to collapse. Half way through his first season, he had lost his first team place and was loaned out to Venezia, and when told to return by the then manager Dave Bassett, he refused. Forest tore up his contract - meaning the whole deal, including wages and bonuses, had cost the club £2.75m. He scored twice - one against Oxford in the FA Cup and the other against Bradford in the Coca-Cola Cup. Bassett said of the deal, "The whole business turned into a complete fiasco."

Steve Marlet - (Olympique Lyonnais to Fulham, 2001, £11.5 million)

When Fulham were promoted to the Premiership in 2001, Chairman Mohammed Al-Fayed was focused on spending lots of money in the hope they would win the league.
Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as planned and French striker Steve Marlet, signed for £11.5m in 2001 wasn't able to perform anywhere near the level expected. As Fulham's then record signing, it angered Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed so much that the then manager Jean Tigana who signed Marlet was dismissed in April 2003.

Marlet played just one game in the 2003–04 season for Fulham before he was loaned out to Olympique Marseille for 18 months, with his sizeable contract still being paid by the English team, before his contract was finally cancelled in 2005.

Marlet's terrible performances for Fulham led to chairman Mohammed Al Fayed taking his former manager Jean Tigana to the High Court. He claimed Tigana had intentionally overpaid for the striker and wanted compensation, saying "I won't let any crook destroy Fulham". It was suspected that Tigana, who had ties to Olympique Lyonnais, signed Marlet for an exorbitant fee, taking a cut of the fee himself. The charges were quickly dropped.

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