From Falcao to Shevchenko: 18 world-class players who flopped in the Premier League

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League

Premier League football can be the cruellest mistress.

Many old-school football fans will tell you that no player has truly proved themselves until they've cut their teeth on the flying tackles and tricky weather conditions of English shores.

Our love for Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and a whole host of other stars means we wouldn't go quite that far, but the Premier League is undoubtedly a major test of a player's minerals.

And while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry have proven that their talent still shone in England, there have been a whole host of world-class players who have flopped on these shores.

In other words, they've played fantastically overseas and cemented themselves as a top, top player, but a move to the Premier League proved to be their kryptonite.

World-class players who flopped in England

So, in light of this unique group of characters, we decided to rank 18 world-class players that couldn't cut it in the world's most entertaining league.

The greater their reputation and the further the fall, the higher they'll find themselves on the list, but we're still including stars that came to England either before or long after their peak.

Check out our full list down below and decide whether anybody else was worthy of a mention:

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League

18. Juan Cuadrado

It goes without saying that Cuadrado has never been as world-class as some of the other players on this list - hence he's in 18th place - but boy was he a disappointment for Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Considering his proven class across spells with Juventus and Fiorentina, it remains baffling that the Colombian looked so out of his depth across a pitiful 15 appearances for the Blues.


17. Stefan Savic

This is the first example of a player going on to thrive after leaving the Premier League.

Savic is now one of the world's most underrated defenders at Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid, but you wouldn't have known from his highly-forgettable 20 outings in the Premier League.

Manchester City v Swansea City - Premier League

16. Davor Suker

Suker gets away lightly for the fact he was already in his thirties when Arsenal snapped him up and to be fair, 11 goals in 39 games isn't a terrible record compared with other players to come.

However, Arsenal fans expected much, much more from a player who had just won the Golden Boot at the World Cup and spent three successful seasons with Real Madrid. Disappointing, for sure.

Davor Suker

15. George Weah

Poor Weah was a shell of the player that won the Ballon d'Or by the time he arrived at Stamford Bridge and his cameo at the club has been somewhat poeticised by an FA Cup triumph.

In reality, though, five goals from 15 games is nothing to write home about and it's a crying shame that English football fans never got to witness a prime Weah with their own two eyes.

George Weah

14. Fernando Morientes

Was Morientes ever a better player than Weah or Suker? Of course not, but the Spaniard has fewer excuses having arrived on Merseyside at what would usually be the peak of his powers.

A pitiful 12 goals across 60 appearances in the famous red jersey isn't a record you'd expect from someone who scored in a Champions League final for Real Madrid and won 47 caps for Spain.

Liverpool v Middlesbrough

13. Ricardo Quaresma

Another player with little in the way of excuses. Quaresma was in his mid-twenties, fresh from spells with Barcelona and Inter Milan and had scored at Euro 2008 by the time he arrived at Chelsea.

The result? Just four appearances in the Premier League and a grand total of zero goals.

Chelsea's Portugese player Ricardo Quare

12. Maicon

Undisputedly the best right-back in the world in 2010, English fans were baying to see Maicon in the Premier League, but they were left bitterly disappointed when their wish came true in 2012.

The Brazilian looked like half the player that had been bombing down the flanks for Inter Milan and it came as little surprise that he was flogged just one year and 13 appearances later.


11. Gonzalo Higuain

We wanted to place Higuain a lot higher in the rankings, trust us, but the fact of the matter is that his performances with Juventus and AC Milan prior to the move were already showing a decline.

That being said, you'd expect more than five goals in 19 games from a striker who was finding the net 30 times a season just three years before his English misadventure.

Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday - FA Cup Fourth Round

10. Deco

Chelsea must have thought they'd hit the jackpot when their acquisition from Barcelona scored a screamer on his debut and won the Premier League Player of the Month award at the first try.

But you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Portuguese's decline was happening in real time before the eyes of English fans and the 2009/10 season proved that his time in Europe was well and truly over.

Chelsea's Portuguese footballer Deco att

9. Gerard Pique

It seems a little harsh slamming Pique for his displays in the Premier League when he was only a youngster and gifted a mere 23 appearances, but look at the player he's gone on to become.

For the fact he hit the ground running at Barcelona with 45 games in a treble-winning season suggests the rigours of English football were at least part responsible for his United woes.

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic

8. Diego Forlan

Few players fit the stereotype of a world-class striker struggling with the physicality of the Premier League quite like Forlan.

His record of 10 Premier League goals from 63 United games continues to look nonsensical when you consider he later won two European Golden Shoes and the World Cup Golden Ball in 2010.

Manchester United v Celtic

7. Jerome Boateng

City could have been laughing all the way to the bank if they'd have held on to Boateng for at least one more season and actually listened to his demands to play in the centre of defence.

But hindsight is a beautiful thing and you could hardly have predicted that Boateng would be a World Cup-winning juggernaut after 16 pretty nondescript performances in the Premier League.

Aris Saloniki v Manchester City - UEFA Europa League

6. Bastian Schweinsteiger

And speaking of World Cup winners, Schweinsteiger put pen to paper on a move to Old Trafford just a year after lifting football's biggest prize, but you wouldn't have known it.

Even before the days of Jose Mourinho shutting him away in exile, the German's performances under Louis van Gaal fell dramatically short of the standard he set for himself with Bayern Munich.


5. Juan Sebastian Veron

If you're ever reading a list of United's biggest ever flops, you can guarantee that Veron will feature somewhere and that's because everyone knew just how much talent and ability he had.

Sadly, that only ever manifested itself in flashes at Old Trafford and an even more catastrophic spell with Chelsea immediately afterwards means that his place in the top five is well deserved.

Juan Sebastian Veron of Chelsea

4. Robinho

Robinho might never have been world-class to the extent he was competing for the Ballon d'Or but come on, we're talking about a Real Madrid player who tearing things up with Brazil.

So, to see him slumming it on the bench and appearing for cameos against Scunthorpe United was certainly jarring, even if 15 goals from his debut season could have been much worse.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League

3. Angel Di Maria

It's well documented that Di Maria absolutely despised his time with United, but tanking just a few months after bossing a Champions League final remains inexplicable to this day.

Just 10 league assists and three goals from a solitary season that completely imploded by the New Year means Di Maria is worthy of a place on the podium for, well, having no excuse for flopping.

Manchester United v Arsenal - FA Cup Quarter Final

2. Radamel Falcao

What makes Falcao's damning failure on English shores all the more painful is the fact he had two cracks of the whip at both Manchester United and then Chelsea.

And despite finishing fifth in the Ballon d'Or rankings just two years before moving to Old Trafford, 'El Tigre' only managed four goals with the Red Devils and a solitary strike with the Blues.

Manchester United v Stoke City - Premier League

1. Andriy Shevchenko

We're talking about Ballon d'Or winner just outside of his prime, of course he had to come top.

Chelsea had been chasing Shevchenko for a number of seasons, so the hype was palpable by the time they secured his signature and were dreaming of an unstoppable partnership with Didier Drogba.

You know the rest of the story, though, with the AC Milan legend scoring a pitiful nine Premier League goals from 48 games and winding up back at the San Siro on loan just two seasons later.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League

The toughness of the Premier League

When you look at some of those names, it's pretty gutting that they came to the Premier League and didn't show the quality we all know they have.

Just imagine if England's top tier had been graced by the Shevcenko that ran riot with AC Milan, the Di Maria that shimmered at Real Madrid or the Falcao that scored goal for fun at Atletico Madrid.

Sadly, though, those scenarios never happened in the same way a peak Schweinsteiger at United or a World Cup-winner Boateng with City didn't either.

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final

However, at least this select group of players can reassure themselves with the fact that, yes, they might have flopped in the Premier League, but at least they did the business elsewhere.

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