Aston Villa signed Phillipe Coutinho from Barcelona yesterday in a deal worth £17 million.
It’s a shocking turn of events when you think about it.
I mean, anyone who had pitched such a scenario unfolding when the magical Brazilian traded Liverpool for Barcelona back in 2018, would have been laughed out the house.
Nevertheless, it will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst transfers in football history.
Which got us thinking… could it even be the worst?
Well, that’s the question we’ve set out to answer as we rank football’s worst transfers ever.
The 10 worst transfers in football history ranked
10. Mario Balotelli to Liverpool – £18 million
Ah, Super Mario. What can be said about this maverick?
An exceptional talent, we saw glimpses of greatness in his spell with Manchester City. But for every brilliant thing the Italian did, there were three or four moments of madness that ruined it.
After falling out with his teammates at City, he was sold to Milan, where he somewhat got his career back on track – scoring 14 goals in the Serie A.
As a result, Brendan Rodgers decided to take a punt on the 24-year-old as he bid to find a suitable replacement for Luis Suarez.
Liverpool fans were dubious at the time, but Rodgers had a knack for getting the best out of players so there remained some hope the move could work out.
That hope, though, was short lived. Balotelli’s refusal to run, combined with his persistence in shooting from 40-yards was a cause of constant frustration for fans.
In the end, he scored just one Premier League goal for the Reds in 939 minutes of action before he was sent packing back to Milan on loan.
9. Fernando Torres to Chelsea – £52.7 million
Torres’ transfer to Chelsea was one of the most controversial pieces of business in modern football.
The Blues nabbed the Spaniard from Liverpool in a deal worth £50 million after he had been Liverpool’s golden boy for the previous three seasons.
Still aged just 26, Torres was supposed to be entering the prime of his career, but he couldn’t seem to recreate the form that had been blowing defences away on the regular at Anfield.
Incredibly, he went from averaging a goal every 120 minutes at Liverpool, to a goal every 360 minutes at Chelsea.
Granted, he did score a vital away goal in the semi-final of the Champions League against Barcelona; however, that proved the only real highlight in an otherwise disappointing career in London.
8. Andy Carrol to Liverpool – £36.9 million
Carrol was signed to replace Torres and it’s fair to say he didn’t turn out very well either.
The big striker had impressed in his short time in the Newcastle first team, scoring 11 goals in 19 appearances. However, his style clearly wasn’t suited to the way Liverpool played and it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
He scored six goals in 44 games before being shipped off to West Ham on the cheap.
7. Angel Di Maria to Manchester United – £67.5 million
One of many high-profile United transfers that have flopped in recent times. Di Maria was widely regarded to be up there with the most creative players in the world at Real Madrid.
Although, his spell at United swiftly put a stop to that suggestion. The Argentine impressed in the opening stages of his switch, even scooping the club’s Player of Month award.
After that, though, a hamstring injury and a break-in at his house was enough to unsettle the star, who’s performances fell off a cliff and didn’t stop until they hit rock bottom.
6. Jonathan Woodgate to Real Madrid – £16 million
Unlike Di Maria, Woodgate’s Real Madrid career hit rock bottom instantaneously.
After spending a year on the side-lines injured, the Englishman came back to score an own goal and get sent off on his debut for the club – it really does not get any worse.
Injuries then continued to plague the centre-back, who ended up making just nine La Liga appearances for the club before returning to the UK.
To add insult to injury, a poll conducted by Spanish media outlet Marca labelled him ‘the worst signing of the 21st century.’ Ouch.
5. Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea – £39.5 million
Roman Abramovich had been desperate to bring the Ukrainian to Chelsea for several years before eventually getting his wish in 2006.
The problem was, it was his wish, not Jose Mourinho’s. The Portuguese manager didn’t actually want Shevchenko at the club for whatever reason, and that was reflected on the pitch.
The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner spent most of his Chelsea career playing out of position and consequently scored just nine Premier League goals in 48 matches.
He lasted two seasons at the Bridge before he was sent back to Milan on loan.
4. Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United – free
How a free transfer ranks so highly we’ll never know, but in this case, the placement of Sanchez is warranted.
When ditching Arsenal for United, Sanchez was pretty much seen to be the best player in the league. He was a phenomenon at the Emirates and the prospect of him running the show at the Theatre of Dreams was a frightening one for rivals.
The way it turned out, though, they needn’t have worried. Sanchez scored just three league goals in one and a half seasons in the north-west.
His ridiculous wage of £560,000 per week was a heavy burden on United given he spent the majority of his career in red sat on the bench. Eventually, he was loaned to Inter Milan, but even then United were sending a hefty £200,000 per week in his direction.
What a shocker.
3. Eden Hazard to Real Madrid – £103 million rising to £135 million
The Belgian managed just one goal in his first season in the Spanish capital, which did nothing to cool the anger that was already boiling amongst the Madridstas after he turned up to pre-season seven kilograms overweight.
Hazard was then spotted laughing with former Chelsea teammates after the club knocked Los Blancos out of the Champions League and has spent the majority of the time since sidelined with persistent injuries.
At this rate, he’s giving Gareth Bale a run for his money as the most disliked man at the club.
2. Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona – £108 million
Ah, and now for Barcelona.
The first issue with this transfer was that the players didn’t want the club to sign Griezmann. Nor the manager. In truth, the deal summed up the state of the Barcelona board at the time.
The Frenchman was signed on an enormous contract that put such financial strain on the club that it was a key factor in the eventual departure of their most prized asset, Lionel Messi.
Griezmann endured a torrid time overall at Camp Nou and the board eventually decided to loan him back to Atletico Madrid.
The catch, though, was that the loan came in with an optional future fee of £54 million, which Atletico duly activated.
You can bet Simeone slept well that week, knowing that he had just conned the mighty Barcelona out of over £50 million quid.
Have some of that.
- Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona – £121.50 million (Approx)
We must admit, it was close deciding between Coutinho and Griezmann.
However, ultimately, Barcelona have just sold the Brazilian for a loss of approximately £100 million.
And let’s not forget those two goals he scored against them when on loan at Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final – what a mockery.