Last Updated: 1 July 2022, Author: AceOdds.com
The Premier League is known as one of the most competitive and attractive leagues in the world. Over the past decade the transfer fees of players joining the league have increased massively, as have the wages being offered. But not every transfer has been a success.
We’ve taken a look at 11 of the worst Premier League transfers by numbers. And it doesn't look good for Chelsea who have 5 of the worst Premier League transfers of all time on the list, costing them a staggering £407 million.
Premier League transfers don’t get much worse than Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge. Hailed as the missing piece of Tuchel’s puzzle last summer, the signing has been a disaster and the Belgian front man is being shipped back to Inter Milan on loan following only scoring a handful of goals last season which has equated to an enormous £7.26m cost per goal.
Angel Di Maria was a key part of Real Madrid’s attacking success before joining Man United in 2014. The Argentinian’s career at Old Trafford actually started quite well, with him picking up player of the month early on in the season but what followed was a completely mellow and underperforming season. So much so that Di Maria was voted worst signing of the season by The Daily Telegraph, which is hard to argue against when you look at the figures. Di Maria cost the club a whopping £18.5m per goal and £6.1m per assist. He’s also the highest cost per minute player on this list at an eye watering £337k per minute.
One of, if not the worst (we will get to Pogba and Alexis Sanchez) signing by numbers Old Trafford has ever seen.
Danny Drinkwater came to Stamford Bridge from then Premier League champions Leicester in 2017 for £35m. Since then he’s only featured twelve times for the club and seems to have completely lost his way following a string of loans, most recently at championship side Reading. He’s been taking home £110k per week ever since his move, costing the club over £63m in total since joining. With no goals and no assists, he’s one of the worst, if not the worst domestic Premier League transfer of all time.
Sanchez was Arsenal's talisman when he joined Man United in a swap deal. Man United fans thought they’d gotten a steal. It turned out that the highlight of the Chilean’s time at Old Trafford was playing the piano in his transfer launch announcement. He never got going and his £500k per week wages also broke the previous wage structure at Old Trafford. He was also rumoured to have demoralised some of the other squad members. In the end, his overall stay at Man United cost the club £52m in wages. Resulting in a return of £13m per assist and £10.4m per goal, one of the worst on the list.
Anyone who has watched the recent Pogmentary documentary could be forgiven for thinking that the Amazon series is Pogba’s greatest crime when really it was his underwhelming performances on the pitch over the past six years at Manchester United.
His £89.5m return to Old Trafford was more like a brand launch than a football transfer, it changed how transfers were promoted and there were hopes that he’d help bring back the glory years to the Red Devils.
He’s cost the club an unbelievable £179m in fees and wages since his return and he’s leaving on a free transfer, again, to Juventus. One of the worst pieces of business the club has ever made.
Few transfers are more confusing than Bakayoko’s £40m move from Monaco to Chelsea. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. His performances for the French club were top notch and he was once touted as the next Yaya Touré. It never worked out at Chelsea and he’s been loaned out multiple times since the move. He’s now one of many expensive mistakes over the past decade from Chelsea.
The Spanish striker has had more big moves in recent years than any other high profile striker. His £60m move from Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge was the one that came under the microscope the most. It was a big fee and Chelsea fans expected a big return, which they never received. He cost them £12.4m per assist and with only 16 goals, £4.6m per goal. They somehow managed to get a £58m resale value and managed to recoup some of their costs, but his legacy is one of the worst striker transfers in the Premier League history.
Even though the towering Geordie striker is still admired by Newcastle fans, it’s fair to say most people would have him on the list of worst transfers after his big money move to Liverpool. The fee of £36.9m, seemed like a lot at the time, and he was immediately put under the microscope, and quickly became the fall guy of the failed Liverpool recruitment strategy that year.
He cost the club £43m overall during his stay, scoring only six Premier League goals for the club. He was shortly shipped out to West Ham on loan and they managed to sell him later for £15m.
It might seem premature to have Nicolas Pépé on this list, as he’s still at Arsenal, which means there is still time for him to prove his worth. It’s doubtful that anyone in the industry would agree that The Gunners have had their money's worth from the £72m man. He’s lost his place to the likes of Buyako Saka and Martinelli and it’s not difficult to see why, it’s fair to say he’s struggled since his move from Lille.
The Ivorian is on £140k a week which means he’s cost the club over £93m in total since joining. Registering an assist for every £4.4m spent.
Spurs’ worst ever transfer? Quite possibly. The Gareth Bale money went on several players and one of them was the Spanish striker who joined from Valencia for £26m, which was a club record at the time. Soldado only managed 16 goals for the club, with only seven of those coming in the Premier League. He was one of a number of underwhelming signings during that period for Spurs but he easily stood out as the worst.
It sometimes seems unfair to include Fernando Torres in these kinds of lists since he was part of the team that lifted the Champions League. But at the time, he was the British record signing and he simply did not deliver the return in terms of goals during his stay at Chelsea. He played over 100 times for Chelsea in the Premier League and only netted 20 goals for them, which isn't a patch on his record of over 1 goal every 2 games for Liverpool. He cost Chelsea nearly £100m, including his wage costs, during his time there.
Any Premier League transfers we’ve missed off this list? Honourable mentions to Adrian Mutu who narrowly missed out.