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The worst transfers in Premier League history

Profile Picture: Cam Tucker

July 15th, 2020

Every transfer signing in the English Premier League is a gamble, as clubs make decisions to throw large sums of cash around in pursuit of players they believe will give them a boost.  

Sometimes these big moves pay off, and the clubs, managers and players involved all come out looking great. Sometimes, however, they fail spectacularly. Here are the five worst transfer signings in Premier League history. 

Jozy Altidore (Sunderland)

Jozy Altidore has built an impressive career in Major League Soccer as well as Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. He’s recorded 71 goals in 149 regular season games in MLS, and was a highly accomplished scorer during two seasons in the Netherlands.

But his time in the Premier League didn’t fall along similar lines, after Sunderland paid a reported $13 million transfer fee to AZ Almaar for the U.S. striker’s services. 

He made 52 appearances for Sunderland between 2013 and 2015, across all competitions, but scored only three goals. 

Granted, the MLS is not on the same level as the Premier League in terms of quality, but it is still professional soccer, and it's very difficult to win a championship. Altidore has done just that, winning the 2017 MLS Cup with Toronto FC and winning Most Valuable Player honors for the match. 

Andy Carroll (Liverpool)

Liverpool supporters might still be savoring their recently captured Premier League title, but these days of euphoria may have once seemed like a completely unrealistic fantasy. 

Bringing Andy Carroll to the club for a transfer fee worth a reported £35 million wasn’t exactly a bright spot. Between 2010 and 2013, Carroll appeared in 58 games across all competitions for Liverpool, scoring just 11 goals. There were some bright moments, but they were few and far between. 

Only six of those goals came during Premier League play. He lasted only two and a half seasons with Liverpool, before being loaned to West Ham United. He’s currently playing for Newcastle United in the Premier League.

Bebe (Manchester United)

It’s never a good thing when the daily fishwrap calls a transfer the "most infamous signing" of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, but that’s exactly how the Manchester Evening News described the 2010 acquisition of Portuguese forward Bebe in an article two years ago. 

Manchester United brought in Bebe, then just 20 years of age, for a reported £7.4 million. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned, and Bebe made only two appearances and failed to score a single goal in his time at Old Trafford. 

He was instead loaned out several times from Manchester United to clubs in Portugal – obviously not what either the club or player was expecting following a hugely expensive deal. 

Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham)

Kostas Mitroglou was an accomplished scorer with Olympiacos in Greece’s Super League 1, but the striker’s success in that league never transferred to the Premier League when he joined Fulham in 2014. 

Fulham paid a reported transfer fee of £12 million, but there was absolutely no value in his time with the Premier League club. He appeared in only three matches for a total of 151 minutes, and never scored. 

Yannick Bolasie (Everton)

Yannick Bolasie’s time with Everton amounted to a disaster. And it all started with a torn ACL at the beginning of his tenure. 

He made 32 appearances for Everton between 2016 and 2018, across all competitions, but scored only twice in 29 Premier League matches for the club that paid a transfer fee worth a reported £26 million in 2016. 

That is a hefty price to pay, especially if you’re looking at a spend-to-goal ratio. 

His time at Crystal Palace before joining Everton may have prompted Everton to believe Bolasie was an up-and-coming winger, ready to break out with the right club. Unfortunately, that never happened. 


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