English Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world. Over the years, many great players have plied their trade in the league. Every year we see many great footballers showcasing their talent on the biggest stage. However, there had also been some poor signings in the competition’s history. In this article, we will have a look at some of the worst Premier League signings of all time.
Here are the 20 worst Premier League signings of all time.
20. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel
Van Wolfswinkel actually scored on his Norwich debut in 2013 which, at the time, seemed to indicate that the fine form he’d shown in the Eredivisie and the Primeira Liga could be reproduced in England. In fact, the £8.5m Dutch striker would never score another goal in 24 further Premier League matches.
Maybe the most obvious point to make about him concerned his body shape; he just didn’t look like a player suited to British football. Neat enough on the ball but frail and willowy, he had natural red flags which Norwich would have done well to recognize. Maybe there’s a case for saying that he might have been better in a superior side, or at least one built vaguely around his strengths, but that seems awfully generous.
One of the more baffling transfers in English football history, the arrival of Bebe at Manchester United for a reported £7.4m in 2010 was greeted with widespread confusion – especially when the normally meticulous Alex Ferguson admitted to having never seen him play. It arguably made more sense when it emerged that super-agent Jorge Mendes had just signed him as a client.
The Portuguese forward made seven appearances for United in his first season and generally equipped himself with the effort and lack of finesse of a competition winner. The remainder of his United career was spent out on loan, before he was sold to Benfica. He is definitely one of the worst Premier League signings of all time.
18. Michael Owen
Still looked a quality signing in the beginning of his Newcastle career but unfortunately, an injury derailed him. His form never regained over four years, and injuries kept on creeping into his game.
He only managed 71 games in four years at the club and then left on a free transfer after refusing a new contract at the club. This upset everyone at the club considering how much they spent on bringing him there and the considerable amount he picked up in wages considering how much he had been injured and his lack of form over the years.
17. Roque Junior
Brazilian defender Roque Junior played close to an hour of the 2003 Champions League final for AC Milan mere months before an ill-fated loan spell at doomed Leeds United, a union that lasted just one season.
Leeds conceded 25 goals in Roque Junior’s seven appearances for the club, including a 6-1 battering at the hands of newly promoted Portsmouth. He had earlier been sent off on his debut, and even a brace in the League Cup against Manchester United couldn’t save him. He is regarded as one of the worst Premier League signings of all time.
16. Roger Johnson
When Wolves signed Johnson from relegated Birmingham, they were hoping to add a leader to their backline. The only place he led them was down the same path. With Johnson taking over as club captain, Wolves were immediately relegated.
The nadir of their season likely came when the defender was fined after showing up drunk for training in March, though there was further indignity when Wolves were relegated again the next year. Johnson never appeared for the club again.
15. Milton Nunez
An air of mystery still surrounds the arrival of diminutive Honduran striker Milton Nunez at Sunderland. Signed by Peter Reid for £1.6m on deadline day in 2000, Nunez made just one appearance for the Black Cats, and it’s been rumoured that Sunderland actually signed the wrong player.
Nunez had been playing for PAOK in Greece, alongside the (much taller) Colombia striker Adolfo Valencia, who legend has it is the person Reid was actually after. Nunez himself has given contradictory versions – in an interview 2016, he said he was absolutely the player Sunderland wanted to sign, but in 2017 he told a Honduran newspaper that the rumours were true. Nunez didn’t know what he was doing on Wearside, and no one else did either.
14. Marco Boogers
Things started bad and didn’t get much better for Boogers, who was sent off in his second appearance for the Hammers after an attempt to saw off Gary Neville’s leg at the knee. Boogers would make just two more appearances for West Ham and finished his Premier League career with 100 total minutes on the pitch.
When he returned to the Netherlands during his four-game suspension for the Neville tackle, a misheard quote from West Ham’s press officer led the Sun to publish a headline suggesting Boogers had left the club to live in a Dutch caravan. The story wasn’t true, but, after a knee injury, he did return to his homeland to finish his career.
13. Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron was seen as the man to take Manchester United to the next level and make them perennial Champions League winners when they splashed out a record £28 million, but he just never seemed to adapt to English football. He was great on most of the big European occasions where he could have more time on the ball, but back in England, he never really adapted to the faster side of the game.
After his two disappointing seasons at United, Chelsea compounded United’s error by signing him for £15 million, and he carried on exactly where he left off. He did enough to earn himself a place among the worst Premier League signings of all time.
12. Andy Caroll
Liverpool had already broken their transfer record on winter deadline day in 2011 to buy £23m Luis Suarez from Ajax, but smashed it to pieces mere hours later to land Newcastle striker Andy Carroll for £35m.
The Geordie target man had only 18 months of regular first-team football under his belt at that time and represented a huge panic buy for the Reds. Carroll scored four Premier League during his only full season and was eventually sold to West Ham in 2013 for a £20m loss.