Football transfers: Who is the worst signing of all time?

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These days, so much research goes into making a signing at the top level.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

Clubs spend months - if not years - tracking a potential transfer target. They don’t only watch them on the pitch but they dig into their personality, their injury record, their personal life.

After all, if you’re spending tens of millions on a player you don’t want any surprises when they eventually arrive at your club.

It’s a wonder how so many big transfers end up becoming flops, then.

No matter how much research you can do ahead of signing a new star, you simply can’t predict how they will adapt to their new surroundings and whether they can replicate the form shown at their previous club.

Over the years, we’ve seen just as many transfer disasters as transfer success stories.

Quiz: Can you name the footballer based on their Wikipedia page?

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Who's this Spurs legend?

But what is the worst transfer in football history?

Well, that’s a question 90min tried to answer. But they went far beyond naming just the worst transfer ever - they named the top 30!

To do so, they ranked them on four factors “original cost, sell-on fee (or lack thereof), individual (under)performance and off-field issues/general embarrassment to the club.”

So, let’s check out the 30 worst transfers in football history:

30-21

30. Juan Sebastian Veron (Lazio to Manchester United, 2001)
Approx transfer fee: £28m

29. Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux to Lyon, 2010)
Approx transfer fee: €22m

28. Dmytro Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk to Barcelona, 2009)
Approx transfer fee: €25m

27. Jack Rodwell (Manchester City to Sunderland, 2014)
Approx transfer fee: £10m

26. Ricardo Quaresma (Porto to Inter, 2008)
Approx transfer fee: €19m

25. Kaka (AC Milan to Real Madrid, 2009)
Approx transfer fee: €68.5m

24. Mario Balotelli (AC Milan to Liverpool, 2014)
Approx transfer fee: £16m

23. Lazar Markovic (Benfica to Liverpool, 2014)
Approx transfer fee: £20m

22. Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia to Arsenal, 2016)
Approx transfer fee: £35m

21. Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid to Manchester United, 2014)
Approx transfer fee: £60m

30-21 summary

It’s fair to say Liverpool had a bad summer in 2014. Just the reported £36m wasted on Balotelli and Markovic. Oh dear.

Two Manchester United signings are also included in this section - both of which were arguably world-class players in the form of Veron and Di Maria but both turned out to be expensive flops.

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20-11

20. Eliaquim Mangala (Valencia to Manchester City, 2014)
Approx transfer fee: £42m

19. Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus to Milan, 2017)
Approx transfer fee: €42m

18. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011)
Approx transfer fee: £50m

17. Adrian Mutu (Parma to Chelsea, 2003)
Approx transfer fee: £16m

16. Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain, 2016)
Approx transfer fee: €25m

15. Jonathan Woodgate (Newcastle United to Real Madrid, 2004)
Approx transfer fee: £13.5m

14. Joelinton (Hoffenheim to Newcastle, 2019)
Approx transfer fee: £40m

13. Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande, 2016)
Approx transfer fee: €42m

12. Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid, 2019)
Approx transfer fee: €60m

11. Andy Carroll (Newcastle United to Liverpool, 2011)
Approx transfer fee: £35m

20-11 summary

On transfer deadline day in January 2011, two crazy signings happened and they both turned out to be complete failures. Chelsea signed Torres from Liverpool for £50m with the Spaniard scoring 20 goals in 110 Premier League appearances at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool then went and spent the majority of that fee on Carroll from Newcastle, who repaid them with six Premier League goals.

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10-1

10. Gaizka Mendieta (Valencia to Lazio, 2001)
Approx transfer fee: €48m

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter to Barcelona, 2010)
Approx transfer fee: £59m + Samuel Eto'o

8. Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan to Chelsea, 2006)
Approx transfer fee: £30m

7. Danny Drinkwater (Leicester to Chelsea, 2017)
Approx transfer fee: £35m

6. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to Manchester United, 2018)
Approx transfer fee: Swap with Henrikh Mkhitaryan

5. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Club to Chelsea, 2018)
Approx transfer fee: £72m

4. Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors to Shanghai Shenhua, 2016)
Approx transfer fee: €16m (transfer fee is disputed)

3. Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, 2017)
Approx transfer fee: €105m (rising to €145m with add-ons)

2. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2018)
Approx transfer fee: £105m (rising to £142m with add-ons)

1. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, 2019)
Approx transfer fee: €100m (rising to €146m with add-ons)

10-1 summary

So, Hazard has been named the worst signing of all time.

A potential €146m purchase has returned just five goals in 43 appearances in two seasons with the Belgian suffering terribly from injuries. Now 30-years-old, it looks increasingly unlikely Hazard will ever replicate the form he showed at Chelsea.

The top 10 doesn’t make great reading for Barcelona with their expensive signings of both Coutinho and Dembele completing the top three. The deal to swap Eto’o with Ibrahimovic and £59m comes in at ninth.

While they may have sold Hazard at the perfect time, three Chelsea signings also feature with Kepa (5th), Drinkwater (7th) and Shevchenko (8th) proving to be pricey mistakes.

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