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Every year, Premier League clubs spend fortunes on new players with varied results. Alisson and Lucas Digne head a lengthy list of first-year hits, but it didn’t work out for everyone. Here are this season’s worst signings who prove spending is no guarantee of success:
12. Yerry Mina (Everton, £27.5 million)
Mina is not a poor player, but he typifies the mistake someone always makes after the World Cup: Grossly overpaying for a player on the back of a strong World Cup. Mina was an excellent defender at Russia 2018 and his set piece prowess saw him bag 3 goals, including Colombia’s equalizer against England. On the back of that, Everton paid €30 million for the defender, whereas prior to the World Cup, Barcelona were shopping him for a fraction of that price.
Mina made a late start due to injury and has made just 12 Premier League appearances. He was part of the Everton defense that fell apart in the FA Cup against Millwall and has made just 2 appearances since. With 4 years left on his contract, Everton will be hoping Mina will be more than an expensive backup defender.
11. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Southampton, £16 million)
Southampton have long been heralded as the home of prudent housekeeping and sensible transfer decisions; until they employed Mark Hughes. Hughes spent £56 million and had Southampton tumbling towards relegation before his sacking. Elyounoussi was prominent in that barren run and has unsurprisingly slipped down the pecking order under Ralph Hasenhuttl. His statistics read 15 appearances, 8 starts, and neither a goal or assist to his name.
10. Denis Suarez (Arsenal, loan from Barcelona)
Arsenal couldn’t afford a permanent signing in January, but Unai Emery wanted a winger. The Gunners aimed for Ivan Perisic, but settled for Suarez. January loans need to make an instant impact, and Suarez’s impact amounts to 4 appearances, 95 minutes, 34 passes and 1 tackle. Suarez, whose loan has been hampered by a groin strain, now looks reminiscent of Kim Kallstrom’s brief stint at The Emirates. Arsenal have an option to buy at €20 million, and it’s a fair assumption they’ll pass and call Perisic’s agent instead.
9. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea, £71.6 million)
Arrizabalaga’s first season at Chelsea was always going to be viewed through the prism of his goalkeeper’s world record transfer fee. His Premier League form has been steady, but a long way behind Liverpool’s Alisson, who costs £4million less this summer. Inevitably, Arrizabalaga’s first season in England will be judged on his moment of petulance in the Carabao Cup Final.
If it wasn’t bad enough that his refusal to be substituted led to his manager’s meltdown, Arrizabalaga then let in a howler in the penalty shootout. Having spent so heavily on Arrizabalaga, Chelsea have little choice but to persist with him. The only benefit for the young keeper is the fact that his predecessor, Thibaut Courtois, has suffered a shocking season in Madrid.
8. Ben Gibson (Burnley, £16 million)
Sean Dyche had a track record of signing high-end players from the Championship in the likes of Chris Wood and Robbie Brady, but that tactic backfired this summer when he spent £28 million on Matej Vydra and Ben Gibson. Gibson was added to bolster the squad for a Europa League campaign, but Burnley were knocked out in August and Gibson quickly found himself on the fringes. His time at Burnley has been hampered by a hernia injury, but since recovering, he’s found himself on the bench and has mustered 1 Premier League appearance; a 5-1 hiding from Everton.
7. Adama Diakhaby (Huddersfield, £9 million)
After surprising everyone by surviving their first year in the Premier League, Huddersfield decided to roll the dice in finding players who could move them on to the next level and invested in 22-year-old Adama Diakhaby. He came off the bench in Huddersfield’s opening game of the season; a 3-0 loss to Chelsea. Much has been made of Huddersfield’s inability to score goals, something the left-wing was signed to elevate. However, Diakhaby has failed to register a single goal or assist and missed two big chances to score in his 12 appearances for the club; none of which Huddersfield won.
6. Joe Hart (Burnley, £3.5 million)
Once considered among the world’s elite keepers, Joe Hart’s career has regressed at an alarming rate. After failed spells at Torino and West Ham, he arrived at Burnley having been ditched by both England and Manchester City. Hart started confidently at Turf Moor, but it didn’t take long for the mistakes to resurface, conceding en eye-watering 41 goals in just 19 games. The recovery for Burnley began when Hart was benched for Tom Heaton. With Nick Pope also getting back to fitness, it seems a career in MLS beckons for the two-time Premier League winner.
5. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton, £17 million)
Spending big in the Dutch Eredivisie has always been very risky. On one hand, it brought Luis Suarez to Liverpool. On the other, it brought Afonso Alves to Middlesbrough. Brighton were the latest club to enter this casino when they paid a club-record fee for Jahanbakhsh. In 16 Premier League games, he has managed a meager 20 crosses, 5 shots on target, and no goals, assists or big chances created. With Brighton facing a relegation fight, Jahanbakhsh needs to deliver in the run in to begin justifying that record fee.
4. Maxine Le Marchand (Fulham, £30 million with Jean-Michael Seri)
Fulham have conceded a staggering 76 goals in 34 games, and while there is no shortage of culprits for their defensive woes, Maxine Le Marchand has been the worst of an awful bunch. The left side defender arrived in a package deal with Jean-Michael Seri. In his 23 appearances this season, Fulham have kept 3 clean sheets (2 post relegation) compared to 2-in-13 when he was absent. His 23 games also saw them concede 50 goals (2.2 per game). The grim statistics only tell part of the story of a defender who’s looked out of his depth. The good news for Fulham is that Seri looks a sound signing who should help them with a promotion push next season.
3. Jack Wilshere (West Ham, Free)
The most disappointing aspect about Wilshere’s first season at West Ham is that it’s been predictable. He strode confidently into the London Stadium, said all the right things, and won a place in the first eleven. Wilshere started the first 4 games of the season, all of which West Ham lost. Manuel Pellegrini quickly realized his mistake and Wilshere was pushed out for Declan Rice. Since then, it’s been the usual depressing tale of injury woe for Wilshere. Even as a free transfer, Wilshere looks like an expensive mistake.
2. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham, £22 million)
Somehow, Fulham spent £100 million this summer and were relegated with 5 games to spare. In result, a quarter of that money went into Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. The Cameroon international arrived after two decent seasons with Marseille. Anguissa has proved hapless in his role, as Fulham have played centre back Calum Chambers in his position instead. In 18 games, Anguissa won just three; two coming after relegation. The first of those post-relegation wins ended a run of 12 successive league losses for Anguissa stretching back to September.
1. Fred (Manchester United £52 million)
There are few ways in which Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United resembled Sir Alex Ferguson’s, but his signing of Fred appears to mimic Ferguson’s signing of Kleberson. The two Brazilian midfielders both arrived at United for large fees, came with a reputation as midfield powerhouses, and quickly disappeared from the first team. Fred was United’s big summer purchase and has made very little impact. It is difficult to see what Fred offers his team, as he lacks bite in the tackle, offers little energy, and his passing isn’t particularly incisive.
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