Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea must go down as one of the worst transfers in Premier League history.
Having sniffed out the chance of a fairytale comeback to Stamford Bridge having last played for the club in 2013, Lukaku waved goodbye to Inter Milan after two seasons to the tune of £97.5 million.
However, to say that Lukaku’s return to west London blew up in his face is the mother of all understatements because he’s now on the verge of re-signing for Inter just 12 months later.
Lukaku’s doomed Chelsea return
While Lukaku might have finished the 2021/22 campaign as Chelsea‘s top goalscorer with 15 goals in 44 games, the simple fact of the matter is that Thomas Tuchel had stopped trusting him by the second half of the season.
Looking like a square peg in the round hole of Chelsea’s football under Tuchel, the Belgian striker was regularly stapled to the bench in a dire situation perpetuated by his infamous Sky Italia interview in December.
It quickly became apparent that Lukaku wasn’t enjoying life at Chelsea anywhere near as much as he lapped up his two years at the San Siro where he arguably reached the zenith of his career.
And all that has led to a remarkable situation where the 29-year-old is on the verge of returning to Inter Milan on a one-year loan deal just a single season on from becoming Chelsea’s all-time record signing.
As such, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised to see that the Blues’ doomed £97.5-million investment has slotted into a damning XI of the Premier League‘s biggest ever flops.
The biggest flop XI in Premier League history
On the back of Lukaku’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it return to Stamford Bridge, The Sun has built what they consider to be a line-up of the English top-flight’s most expensive flops since its 1992 rebranding.
So, without further ado, be sure to check out who joins Lukaku in the damning XI of the Premier League’s biggest and most expensive flops down below:
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga to Chelsea
Who else? The Blues spending a world-record fee for a goalkeeper for Kepa’s services has aged like milk with the Spaniard now reduced to their number two shot-stopper behind Edouard Mendy.
Once purported to have the worst save percentage in Premier League history, the Blues’ £71.6-million signing will perhaps worryingly be best remembered for Carabao Cup final antics: refusing to be substituted and missing a deciding penalty.
DF: Phil Jones to Manchester United
A bit harsh, no? While it’s certainly damning that Jones re-signed at United as recently as 2019 despite playing in just six Premier League games over the last three seasons, the club have still gotten over 200 matches out of their £16.5-million buy.
DF: Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal
A transfer of catastrophic proportions with the Gunners shelling out £35 million on a player who ultimately became lamented week in, week out for individual errors until his contract was eventually terminated in 2021.
DF: Eliaquim Mangala to Manchester City
Snapped up in a £43.5-million deal and pocketing £12.5 million in wages, Mangala essentially cost City an eye-watering £1 million per game and only managed to recoup a pitiful £9 million on his original price tag.
MF: Juan Sebastian Veron to Manchester United and Chelsea
Veron became the Premier League’s most expensive player in history when he signed for United to the tune of £28.1 million and reported wages of £90,000-a-week, which was bonkers for the time, only to flop…
He then signed for Chelsea with similarly staggering wages and a transfer fee of £15 million, only to flop all over again, scoring just one goal and only playing 14 games.
MF: Paul Pogba to Manchester United
Another player with a Premier League record fee attached to their name, Pogba was snapped up for an eye-watering £89 million only to leave the club six years later for absolutely nothing having only averaged 25 league games per season.
MF: Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea
The former England international has been bounded about Burnley, Aston Villa, Kasımpaşa S.K. and Reading, as well as being plagued by off-the-field issues, since a disastrous Chelsea switch that yielded just 12 league appearances.
MF: Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal
Seldom has £72 million been spent so poorly in Premier League history with Pepe boasting a dismal record of just 16 goals and nine assists from his 80 league outings for the Gunners. He looks set to leave the club this summer.
FW: Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United
At a cost of £20 million per Premier League goal, United’s accountants must still be weeping over the decision to give Sanchez wages of £505,000-a-week when he ultimately lasted just two seasons and 45 matches.
In fact, Sanchez knew that he’d made a dreadful error from day dot, astonishingly remarking in 2020: “After the session I got home and I told my family and my agent ‘can you not rip up the contract to go back to Arsenal?’.”
FW: Fernando Torres to Chelsea
‘El Nino’ certainly had his moments at Stamford Bridge, but there’s no denying that his £50-million departure from Liverpool was a doomed one, continuing Chelsea’s number nine curse with just 20 league goals in 110 games.
FW: Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea
The reason we’re here. While, on paper, Lukaku’s 15 goals might seem like a sound return, the wheels fell off from the moment that he gave the now-infamous Sky Italia interview that further nailed him to the bench.
Goodness gracious me. That’s a lot of money flushed down the toilet.
While football clubs might ultimately treat footballers like assets when they invest eight-figure fees in their services, there’s no guarantee that they’ll pay that back in the way that, say, technology might.
The brutal reality for these sporting institutes is that every now and again you probably will make a signing like Lukaku, Pepe and Sanchez that makes you question why you ever opened your wallet in the first place.
But when you’re dealing with human beings and real people, that’s just the way that things can be whether it transpires to be their fault or something out of their hands making life difficult.
Either way, there’s no denying that the Premier League’s so-called ‘XI of big-money flops’ doesn’t exactly represent the wisest spending that we’ve ever seen in English football. Better luck next time.