With the clocks ticking ever closer to the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season, many top-flight clubs around the country are still working feverishly to try and bring in fresh faces for the new campaign.
An injection of new blood into a team can sometimes transform its prospects entirely. However, in an era when players attract frightening sums in transfer fees, making the wrong call when bringing in a new recruit can have negative consequences for years afterwards.
Every fan hopes that their club will unearth a world-class gem during their summer transfer window activity, but some Premier League transfers down the years have turned out to be complete failures.
Earlier this year, the HITC Sevens YouTube channel went back through the archives of doomed deals to name the worst Premier League signing from every season of the competition.
We’ve taken a look at their conclusions below. When Premier League sides get it wrong, they’ve been known to do so in spectacular fashion.
The worst signing from every season of the Premier League (1992/93 to 2021/22)
1992/93: Torben Piechnik – FC Copenhagen to Liverpool | £500,000
Danish centre-back Piechnik starred for his country as they triumphed at Euro 92. However, he couldn’t adapt to Liverpool’s high defensive line and didn’t last long at Anfield under Graham Souness.
1993/94: Julian Dicks – West Ham to Liverpool | £1.5 million
Another Souness purchase that didn’t work out, the West Ham hardman never settled on Merseyside and was on his back to east London within 13 months.
1994/95: Brett Angell – Southend to Everton | £500,000
Striker Angell scored plenty of goals in the lower leagues, but couldn’t bring that form with him to Goodison Park. He managed just one goal in 21 appearances for the club.
1995/96: Tomas Brolin – Parma to Leeds | £4.5m
Legitimately one of the best midfielders in the world when he took fourth place in the 1994 Ballon d’Or vote. What a difference a year can make.
Signing with Leeds in 1995, Brolin constantly battled injuries and weight issues during his stint in Yorkshire. He made just 20 appearances for the Whites before departing for absolutely nothing within two years.
1996/97: Nikola Jerkan – Real Oviedo to Nottingham Forest | £1m
A stand-out performer for Croatia at Euro 96, Jerkan made only 14 appearances for Forest, most of which were packed with errors. An absolute disasterclass of a signing.
1997/98: Stan Collymore – Liverpool to Aston Villa | £7m
Notching just seven Premier League goals in three seasons, it’s fair to say that Villa were expecting far more than they got for their substantial outlay.
1998/99: Kevin Davies – Southampton to Blackburn | £7.5m
Off the back of a stellar 97/98 campaign for Southampton, Blackburn splashed £7.5m for Davies’ services, as well as sending James Beattie to the south-coast club.
Davies scored just one Premier League goal for Blackburn before returning to Southampton on a free transfer.
In addition, Beattie became a Saints legend, making the deal even more wretched for Rovers.
1999/2000: Massimo Taibi – Venezia to Manchester United | £4.5m
It took the Red Devils several years to replace the legendary Peter Schmeichel. Taibi was one of those touted as a successor to the ‘Great Dane’.
Once he arrived in England, though, that always looked very optimistic. Dubbed ‘The Blind Venetian’ by United fans, the Italian shot-stopper made just four Premier League appearances for the club. He was swiftly moved on by Sir Alex Ferguson.
2000/01: Winston Bogarde – Barcelona to Chelsea | Free transfer
Chelsea may have signed Bogarde on a free transfer, but his £40,000-a-week, four-year deal was still a considerable financial commitment.
In those four years, Bogarde played only nine times and resisted any attempt from the Blues to move him on.
He was determined to collect every money he was owed from his bumper deal – and did just that.
He was later quoted as saying: “This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them… I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.”
2001/02: Steve Marlet – Lyon to Fulham | £11.5m
Scored only 11 goals in four seasons in west London.
2002/03: El Hadji Diouf – Lens to Liverpool | £10m
Another Liverpool signing made off the back of a strong performance at an international tournament.
Diouf shone for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup. He did not for the Reds, failing to score a single goal in his second season with the club.
2003/04: Adrian Mutu – Parma to Chelsea | £15.8m
When you end up suing a signing for both the entire value of their contract as well as their transfer free, you know things have gone badly wrong.
That’s exactly the action Chelsea took, though, when Mutu failed a drugs test and landed himself a seven-month ban.
Chelsea won in court, but Mutu was never realistically going to have the funds to repay them. A horror show of a deal.
2004/2005: Jiri Jarosik – CSKA to Chelsea | £3m
Roman Abramovich signed so many players during this period that there were always likely to be a few stinkers among Chelsea’s recruits.
Jarosik only made 14 appearances for the club, looking average in each of them.
2005/06: Michael Owen – Real Madrid to Newcastle | £16.8m
Once one of the most prolific strikers on the planet, Owen was a shell of his former self at Newcastle. Blighted by injuries, the Englishman became progressively less popular throughout his time at St. James’ Park as the locals’ frustration towards him grew.
Owen scored just 30 goals for the Magpies in four seasons. Not great for a player that cost around £40m when his transfer fee and wages are combined.
2006/07: Andriy Shevchenko – AC Milan to Chelsea | £30.8m
The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner was already exhibiting signs he might be past his best when he made the switch to Stamford Bridge.
Owner Abramovich desperately wanted the striker, whereas boss Jose Mourinho was reportedly far less enthusiastic.
Roman got his way, but Shevchenko was undoubtedly a flop for the Blues. A Premier League return of a mere nine goals in two seasons pretty much says it all.
2007/08: Kieron Dyer – Newcastle to West Ham | £6m
Breaking his leg just 10 days after making his Hammers debut, Dyer made 30 Premier League appearances for the club in four years.
2008/09: Savio Nsereko – Brescia to West Ham | £9m
Nsereko’s West Ham career lasted just ten games, including only one start. The Ugandan forward failed to find the net during that stint.
2009/10: Alberto Aquilani – Roma to Liverpool | £17m
Aquilani made only 18 Premier League appearances for the Reds, with many of those coming from the bench.
2010/11: Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool | £35m
Carroll was a questionable replacement when Liverpool sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea in January 2011 – and he turned out to be a thoroughly awful piece of business. Scoring just six goals in 44 Premier League outings, Carroll eventually departed for West Ham for less than half of what the Reds paid for him.
2011/12: Roger Johnson – Birmingham to Wolves | £7.2m
Relegated in consecutive seasons after arriving at the club, Johnson refused attempts by Wolves to move him on, insistent that he wanted to see out his lucrative contract at Molineux.
Wolves eventually had to come to a settlement with the player to rid themselves of him.
2012/13: Jose Bosingwa – Chelsea to QPR | Free transfer
Bosingwa cemented his status as one of QPR’s worst-ever signings after he was spotted laughing on the pitch when the Hoops were relegated at the end of his sole season with the club.
2013/14: Roberto Soldado – Valencia to Tottenham | £26m
Soldado was lethal in La Liga, but less so in the Premier League for Spurs. Much less so.
From a total of 52 outings in the English top-flight, Soldado can boast a mere seven goals.
He left the north London club after two seasons for £10m.
2014/15: Jack Rodwell – Man City to Sunderland | £10m
Paid a staggering £70,000-a-week by Sunderland, it’s hard to do justice to just how bad Rodwell’s time on Wearside really was.
At one point, the midfielder went three years, eight and 29 days without winning a game with the Black Cats.
Unable to offload Rodwell as they tumbled down the leagues, Sunderland’s frail finances took a beating every week as they forked out for the player’s crazy salary.
A cursed deal if we’ve ever seen one.
2015/16: Ricky Alvarez – Inter Milan to Sunderland | £10.5m
A clause in a loan deal from the previous season meant that Sunderland would be obligated to sign Alvarez for £10.5m if they avoided relegation in 2014/15.
When the Black Cats pulled off a remarkable escape to avoid the drop, that clause was triggered, even though Sunderland had absolutely no desire to keep the Argentine midfielder.
Alvarez never featured for Sunderland after his deal become permanent and yet is believed to have cost the club more than £20m when hefty legal bills were racked up trying to avoid signing the player.
Almost as bad as Rodwell.
2016/17: Saido Berahino – West Brom to Stoke | £12m
Berahino went 913 days without scoring a goal for Stoke, before eventually opening his account in the 2018/19 season.
2017/18 – Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Man Utd | Free transfer
United ended up making Sanchez the Premier League’s highest earner, ultimately forking out in excess of £66m in total costs for his services. That would have been an extortionate figure even if he’d been any good for them, but he wasn’t.
Instead, the Red Devils got a shell of the player that had previously wowed crowds at the Emirates stadium.
One of the worst deals in football history.
2018/19 – Ben Gibson – Middlesbrough to Burnley | £15m
Burnley aren’t the sort of club to chuck eight-figure sums around on players, meaning it came as something of a surprise when they went all-out to sign Gibson from Middlesbrough.
The Clarets got badly burned as a result of the deal, with Gibson making just one Premier League appearance for the club.
The only saving grace to the situation is that they went able to recoup £8m of their outlay when Gibson moved on to Norwich after three years at Turf Moor.
2019/20: Nicolas Pepe – Lille to Arsenal | £72m
Arsenal smashed their transfer record to sign Pepe three years ago. Since that time, his market value has crashed by close to £72m.
Terribly inconsistent, the Gunners would seemingly love to convince someone to take the Ivorian off the hands.
2020/21: Donny van de Beek – Ajax to Man Utd | £35m
Having proved himself to be an incredible talent at Ajax, things just never clicked for Van de Beek in his first season at Old Trafford.
That’s more down to the people in charge at United seemingly having no plans to use the midfielder, which begs the question as to why they signed him in the first place.
The 25-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Everton, but looks to have far brighter prospects under former boss Erik ten Hag in the season ahead.
2021/22: Emerson Royal – Barcelona to Tottenham | £25.8m
A tad harsh on the Spurs right-back we reckon, but his early days at the North London club were not overly convincing.
The Brazilian faces even greater competition for a first-team spot in 2022/23 too, with Antonio Conte’s side having signed Djed Spence from Nottingham Forest over the summer.
Check out the video for yourself in full below.