Money Wasting

The top ten over-inflated transfer fees of all time

The least frugal investments in the beautiful game

Andriy Shevchenko

With the news that Kaka may substitute hopes of silverware and European football for the chance to play in the Premier League*, The Spoiler has considered the top ten biggest wastes of money in Premier League history.

*We’re not saying Kaka won’t live up to a £100m price tag, but… actually yes, we are saying that. No one could possibly live up to such a ridiculous fee.

Andriy Shevchenko (£30m)
AC Milan to Chelsea, 2006
AC Milan’s second highest top scorer of all time put away 127 league goals in less than 200 starts for the Rossoneri, but managed just nine in two years at the Bridge. He was months away from his 30th birthday when he moved to England, which made the size of the fee even more alarming. Chelsea’s tails were firmly between their legs when they resold him to Milan last summer for an undisclosed fee – unlikely to be in excess of £5m.

Gaizka Mendieta (£29m)
Valencia to Lazio, 2001
Following an impressive spell with Valencia where he lead the side to back-to-back Champions League Finals, the two-time European Midfielder of the Year went to Lazio. He lasted just one season in Italy, scoring no goals. A loan spell back to Barcelona ensued, and then Middlesbrough, for whom he only made 26 league starts in three seasons before being released.

Juan Sebastian Veron (£28.1m)
Lazio to Manchester United, 2001
Man United broke the British transfer record in 2001 after Veron’s instrumental role in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Lazio side (which won the league, the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup the previous year). Although United made the mistake of bringing the Argentine to England, Chelsea’s decision to pay £15m after seeing his incompatibility with the English game was even more shocking.

Marc Overmars (£25m)
Arsenal to Barcelona, 2000
Overmars became the most expensive Dutch player of all time when Barcelona signed him after a successful spell with Arsenal, where he earned a league and cup double. Injuries blighted his time in Spain, and he was forced to retire in 2004 following knee problems. However, he has since returned with one of his first clubs – Dutch team Go Ahead Eagles.

Denilson (£21.4m)
Sao Paulo to Real Betis, 1998
The Brazilian currently inline for a job at Bolton was once the world’s most expensive player, when mediocre Spanish side Real Betis won the race for his signature. Betis chiefs thought a signing of this magnitude would propel them to the next level – it in fact had the reverse effect and they were relegated in 2000.

Robbie Keane (£19m*)
Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool, 2008
It took Keane 13 games to score his first goal for Liverpool and he hasn’t scored consistently since. Alex Ferguson claimed his biggest surprise of the summer was “Liverpool paying £20m for Keane,” which is probably not the brightest thing to say when Dimitar Berbatov (bought in the summer for £10m more) has hardly set Old Trafford alight. At least Fergie has kept faith in his signing, however, compared with Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s indifferent attitude to his white elephant striker.

*Up to £20.3 with add-ons.

Jo (£19m)
CSKA Moscow to Manchester City, 2008
Some believed £19m for a striker who managed just 13 goals in 85 appearances for Brazilian side Corinthians was £10m too much at the time of his signing, and having seen him play for City, some have been proved correct. With only one league goal since his arrival, numerous reports have linked him with a cut price move away from the club this month.

Owen Hargreaves (£17m)
Bayern Munich to Manchester United, 2007
He has managed just 25 league games since joining and although he hasn’t played badly, £17m is a lot for a defensive midfielder. Especially one who gets injured as much as Darren Anderton. The writing was on the wall when their initial interest in 2006 had to be put on hold after he broke his leg at Bayern.

Darren Bent (£16.5m)
Charlton to Tottenham, 2007
Following 37 goals in two seasons at Charlton, Bent moved across London for a club record fee when the Addicks were relegated. Despite a return to goal scoring form this season, he only managed eight last year, and with the arrival of Jermaine Defoe and potential further January reinforcements courtesy of ‘Arry ‘Oudini, he may find it difficult to force his way into the Spurs starting side.

Chris Sutton (£10m)
Blackburn to Chelsea, 1999
It wasn’t just in the Abramovich era that Chelsea were being ripped off. Sutton scored just once in 28 league games before being shipped to Celtic after his first season at the London club.

[Research: Danny Harris]


6 responses so far
  • Ryan Leslie // January 14, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Where is the tall waste of money from Norway…….Tore Andre Flo’s £12.5m move from Chelsea to Rangers is the worst of all time

  • Larry // January 15, 2009 at 9:29 am

    What about Vornin’s move to Liverpool on a free transfer? That was the biggest rip off I think I’ve ever seen.

  • Shazback // January 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Hargreaves has been plagued by injury, but calling his fee “over-inflated” seems a bit strange to me… In his one (almost) injury-free season so far he played 35 games for Manchester United (not 25) : 24 league games, 8 Champions’ League games and 3 cup games. He played in every one of Manchester Untied’s knockout round games in the Champions’ League that year, and ended up winning the double… He’s still 27, so he will likely be able to play five or six more seasons (even with his injury problems) so I find it hard to put his transfer on par with Mendieta, Veron or Sutton is quite ridiculous… In his first season he won more than any three of them did in their whole carreer (or pretty much).

  • Roonaldo // January 15, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    It says 25 LEAGUE games Shazback

  • Nate // January 15, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    How is Keane on this list and Berbatov isn’t? They’ve both had the same amount of time to play, and Keane has scored more than Berbatov. He also costs less.

  • Shazback // January 15, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Roonaldo, he didn’t play 25 league games either. He played 24 league games. Anyway, that wasn’t the substance of my argument, which was that he won the european double (and was one of the more important players of the campaign, not someone who just played a few half-games now and then) and is still only 27.

    Nate, perhaps because Berbatov has a few assists? And scoring 4 goals in the Champions’ League. If you want to go only on scoring record, then you’re underestimating the use of strikers who create chances, even if they score less.

    Other players who could have made the list : Adrian Mutu to Chelsea, Rebrov to Spurs (and then West Ham), Winston Bogarde to Chelsea, Hugo Viana to Newcastle, Massimo Taibi to Man U, Bosko Balaban to Aston Villa, Steve Marlet to Fulham, Jean-Alain Boumsong to Newcastle, Gio Dos Santos to Tottenham, and perhaps Louis Saha to Manchester United…

    Nice post.

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