Grealish, Saul, Sancho, Lukaku: The most disappointing XI of Premier League signings

  • Kobe Tong
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The Premier League’s biggest summer signings are starting to settle into the 2021/22 campaign.

In a year where the English transfer record was broken and Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford, it’s fair to say that there were plenty of fresh narratives to keep tabs on this season.

And now that we’re approaching the halfway mark of the Premier League campaign, we thought that it only made sense to zoom in and take a closer look at all how all these new arrivals were faring.

The Premier League’s summer buys

Here at GIVEMESPORT, we have already looked through the most disappointing summer signings across football as a whole and now we’re focusing in on the Premier League specifically.

We’ve drawn up an XI of players who signed for a club in England’s top-flight this summer that we consider to have fallen short of expectations the most.

Tottenham 2-2 Liverpool Match Reaction (Football Terrace)

And that’s where the word ‘disappointing’ is vital because this isn’t necessarily the worst-performing line-up of signings, period, but the one that hasn’t matched their hype and excitement the most.

So, yes, that does mean that factors out of the players’ hands such as fan perceptions, injuries and absences may have contributed to a start to the season that has bordered upon underwhelming.

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Who is this manager who lasted just 84 days?

Most disappointing Premier League signings

Oh, and bear in mind that every single player in the line-up has talent in spades, so we don’t doubt for a second that they’ll turn this disappointment into delight as the 2021/22 season progresses.

But enough with the disclaimers and housekeeping because we’ve got 11 players to assess. You can check out the Premier League’s most disappointing XI of 2021/22 summer signings below:

GK: Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham Hotspur)

Is this harsh? Probably, yes, but it’s slim picking when it comes to new Premier League goalkeepers who have disappointed with Aaron Ramsdale and Jose Sa continuing to shine amidst superb form.

Nevertheless, Gollini certainly hasn’t set the world alright with nine goals conceded and just two clean sheets in his first eight Spurs games despite largely playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

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RB: Axel Tuanzebe (Aston Villa)

Again, right-back hasn’t been a particularly egregious area for disappointing summer signings, so we’ve played Tuanzebe slightly out of position due to his underwhelming loan spell at Villa Park.

Despite looking like a future world-beater at times for Manchester United last season, Tuanzebe has played just eight minutes of league football under Steven Gerrard as he tumbles under the pecking order.

CB: Jannik Vestergaard (Leicester City)

Anything and everything has gone wrong for Leicester this season and Vestergaard has clearly been a victim of walking straight into the hot mess unfolding at the King Power Stadium.

Statistics merely rank the Dane as Leicester’s 13th-best player in the league in 2021/22 and across the four games that he’s started in the competition, the Foxes have won none and shipped seven goals.

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CB: Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur)

Currently out until 2022 with a serious injury, Romero has been a victim of unlucky circumstances on our disappointment-o-meter, but his performances while fit have still fallen short of expectations.

With 10 goals conceded and only two clean sheets in his first seven Premier League outings, Spurs fans might want to be pump the brakes on the optimism that surrounded his £42.5 million transfer fee.

LB: Junior Firpo (Leeds United)

Adapting to the Premier League is brutal at the best of times, never mind when you’re learning Marcelo Biesla’s brand of football, so it’s no wonder that Firpo is enduring a difficult start to 2021/22.

The heavy expectations on a player with over 40 games for Barcelona are definitely looming large with the 25-year-old ranking as the division’s seventh-worst left-back this season by WhoScored data.

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CM: Saul Niguez (Chelsea)

The most disappointing of disappointing signings this season and what makes it such a bewildering situation is the fact that Saul is indisputably one of Europe’s most talented midfielders on his day.

However, it’s simply never been his day since he moved to Chelsea with the Spaniard possessing whatever the opposite to the Midas touch is called with horror shows against Aston Villa, Watford and Everton.

CM: Joe Willock (Newcastle United)

A classic case of a player earning a permanent move to a club on the back of a stunning loan spell only to see their form drop off a cliff afterwards: Newcastle fans really did expect more from Willock.

The ex-Arsenal prodigy rattled home eight goals in just 14 games last season to command a hefty £25 million transfer fee, but hasn’t produced a single goal contribution in 2021/22 as the Toon hurtle towards relegation.

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CM: Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa)

Signed with the Jack Grealish money to great fanfare on the back of 15 goals and 16 assists in the Championship for Norwich City, Buendia simply hasn’t been able to transfer his glittering form to the big time.

You have to wonder at what point Gerrard’s patience will run thin with a signing whose record of one goal and two assists in the league this season makes his £33 million price tag feel extortionate.

RW: Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)

Sancho has bags upon bags of talent and we’ll be shocked if he doesn’t become a hero at United, but let’s be completely honest here: you were expecting more from him after four months, right?

For a player who churned out goal contributions like they were going out of fashion in the Bundesliga, just a single strike and zero assists in 13 Premier League games so far is unavoidably disappointing.

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ST: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

It’s vitally important to note that injuries and illness have played their part in Lukaku’s slow start to life back at Chelsea, but even when the Belgian has been available, it’s not been all plain sailing.

There have been more than a few times where Thomas Tuchel’s well-oiled system has functioned far better without Lukaku and just five goals in 16 games hardly screams of a £97.5 million-rated striker.

LW: Jack Grealish (Manchester City)

Has Grealish been as terrible for City as some people like to make out? No, no he hasn’t and the England star certainly won’t be the last talented player to get lost in Pep Guardiola’s midfield shuffle.

However, we’ve got to face up to the reality that ‘disappointing’ could hardly be better described than by the most expensive player in Premier League history boasting just three goals and three assists by Christmas.

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Still early days

Admit it: you expected more from these players this season, didn’t you?

It couldn’t be any clearer than in the cases of Grealish, Lukaku and Sancho that mega-money transfer fees and excitement from fans don’t necessarily translate into strong starts at new clubs.

Nevertheless, when you have the talent and ability of Premier League superstars like they do, then you can’t help feeling as though it’s only a matter of time before they move into a purple patch.

So, while these these 11 new arrivals might have left us cold so far, we’ve got our fingers crossed that they can turn over a new leaf in 2022 and really strut their stuff in the Premier League.

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