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.
4. Danny Drinkwater
It’s difficult to even remember now, but when Chelsea signed Drinkwater in summer 2017, he was still on the fringes of the England picture and a regular in midfield for Leicester. At the time, it seemed as if Chelsea might have signed him at the last moment after Ross Barkley turned down a move to Stamford Bridge — Barkley would later head to Chelsea during the subsequent winter transfer window — but, at the very least, they would have expected Drinkwater to be part of their midfield rotation, given he had been key to Leicester’s incredible title win a year earlier.
Things obviously didn’t plan out that way for the former Manchester United trainee. Drinkwater made 12 Premier League appearances in his debut season with Chelsea, but after Antonio Conte left, the midfielder was floating out of relevance. He was then loaned out to Burnley in 2019.
3. Savio Nsereko
Forgotten by most given that his stay in the Premier League was so brief, West Ham fans probably wish they could forget about Savio Nsereko, bought in January 2009 for what was then a club-record fee of £9m.
Why the Hammers paid so much for an unknown 20-year-old with barely any first-team experience remains a mystery, but it was quickly obvious it was a mistake. The Ugandan-born German failed to settle and didn’t score a single goal before leaving a few months later. He is regarded as one of the worst Premier League signings of all time.
2. Bosko Balaban
Aston Villa signed Balaban from Dinamo Zagreb in 2001 for £7m. While £7m does not seem like an extravagant sum in the context of today’s transfer values, consider that this was the 23rd-largest transfer in the summer of 2001 for a Premier League club.
Balaban might be one of the least impactful signings in Premier League history. It took him eight months before he could complete a full 90-minute match, and even that came in the reserves. The Croatian never started, playing just 138 scoreless minutes across eight appearances, and was loaned back to Dinamo after a disastrous first season. After he threatened to spend the remaining 30 months of his contract in the reserves, Villa settled a deal to end his time in the Midlands after two years.
1. Ali Dia
Inevitably, the worst Premier League player of all time is Ali Dia. This story remains ridiculous, no matter how many times you hear it, and it is indicative of how some of the country’s biggest football clubs were still being run with the professionalism and rigour of your local Sunday League team, well into the Premier League era.
Back in 1996, the then Southampton manager Graeme Souness, received a phone call claiming to be from Liberian international and former FIFA World Player of the Year, George Weah.
Weah told Souness that Dia was his cousin, had played for Paris Saint-Germain in France and had played 13 times for his country. In reality, none of this was true, and the phone call was made by a fellow university student of Dia’s to Souness, suggesting that he should give Dia a chance with the Saints. Nonetheless, Souness was convinced and signed Dia on a one-month contract.
Dia made his debut a couple of weeks later against Leeds United coming on as a 32-minute substitute. His quality of performance was so bad that he was dragged off the field 21 minutes later. This Southampton legend only spent a weekend at the club then was never seen by them again.