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5 players who flopped on big contracts 

Arsenal FC v Southampton FC - Premier League
5 players who flopped on big contracts

Over the last decade, an enormous amount of money has been pumped into football. Player power is as high as it has ever been, simply because of the exorbitant transfer fees and salaries of players.

Agents and families of such individuals have played a key role in this process, as they are often at the forefront of demanding massive contracts for their clients.

While a big contract is supposed to guarantee big performances from players, that is not usually the case. The eye-watering money, ridiculous incentives, and pressure from the fans and the club often results in an under-performance.

On that note, let's take a look at 5 players who have flopped on big contracts.


#5 Isco - Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Isco
Real Madrid's Isco

It is quite hard to imagine Isco being a five-time Champions League winner but the Spanish playmaker was one of the best in the business five years ago.

After playing a squad role in Real Madrid's 2013-14 and 2015-16 Champions League triumphs, Isco was at the forefront of the club's 2017 European and La Liga victory.

The attacking midfielder, who played behind the duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, was an irreplaceable part of that side. His attacking instincts and creative nous were at the epicenter of Real Madrid's success going forward while he also formed a key link between the midfield and the frontline.

Hence, it was no surprise when Florentino Perez offered the player a five-year deal in 2017, with the player being only 25 at the time. However, the last half-a-decade has not gone according to plan for Isco.

He only managed to score 18 goals and provide 15 assists in 162 appearances across all competitions for the club between the 2017-18 season to the 2021-22 campaign.

The emergence of Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr. in attack, coupled with Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde in midfield, made it impossible for Isco to garner any game-time, especially last season. Hence, the player left on a free transfer to join Sevilla this summer as his career verges on a decline.


#4 Aaron Ramsey - Juventus

Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey was once one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League as he carved a spot for himself in Arsene Wenger's attacking brand of football.

His late runs into the box, ability to occupy positions between the lines and a high defensive work rate made him an integral part of the Arsenal team, especially between the 2015-16 and the 2018-19 season.

In fact, Ramsey managed 57 goal involvements from the midfield during these four seasons as he helped the Gunners to a Europa League final in his last season at the Emirates. He decided to leave on a free transfer in 2019 and Juventus, who have a habit of signing players who are out of contract, brought the player to Turin.

Aaron Ramsey has signed a pre-contract that will pay him just over £400k per week when he joins Juventus this summer, according to @bbcsport_david 🤑 https://t.co/pPxhm39IrL

However, the Old Lady chunked out a massive four-year deal worth £400k per week for Ramsey, which made him the highest-earning British player at the time. However, things never clicked for the attacking midfielder in Italy as he only managed 12 goal involvements in 70 games for the club.

The continuous change of managers also did not help the player, who never really fit into any system, courtesy of which he was loaned out to Rangers in January 2022.

An unimpressive spell at the Scottish club resulted in him joining OGC Nice on a free transfer this summer. But the French club have been smart enough to only offer him a one-year deal after his disappointing stint at Juventus.


#3 Javier Pastore - PSG

Javier Pastore
Javier Pastore

Javier Pastore was Paris Saint-Germain's first major signing under Qatari ownership, as he joined them from Palermo for €42 million in 2011.

The midfielder contributed 74 goals in his first four seasons at the club, which saw PSG offer him a four-year deal in 2015. However, injuries played a harsh role from here on as the French club also brought in players like Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar Jr between 2015-2017.

These factors led to Pastore being limited to a role off the bench, at least when he was fit. But this seemed like a waste of money for someone who was earning a reported (ESPN) €770k/per month at the time.

In his final season in the Ligue 1 side, Pastore managed only 1,850 minutes across all competitions as he produced a decent five goals and six assists during this period. Regardless, PSG sold him to AS Roma in 2018 for €24.7 million and cut their losses.

Pastore is currently plying his trade at La Liga club Elche CF and the 33-year-old could call it a day in the next couple of years.


#2 Samuel Umtiti - Barcelona

Samuel Umtiti
Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti was one of the finest young centre-backs in world football when he joined Barcelona from Olympique Lyon in 2016.

In his first two years, he made 83 appearances for the club and helped them win the La Liga title once and the Copa del Rey trophy twice. He was also a consistent starter for the French national team, which won the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Hence, Barcelona decided to get Umtiti to pen a new five-year deal, as his previous release clause of €60 million was putting his future into uncertainty at the time.

However, since signing the new deal, Umtiti's career has gone downwards. While Ernesto Valverde did prefer him over others in his starting line-up, that was not necessarily the case under Ronald Koeman.

Xavi Hernandez put the final nail in the centre-back's coffin after handing him only one substitute appearance across the entirety of last season.

Over the past five years, Umtiti has also had to agree to multiple pay-cuts to adjust the arrivals of new players while also helping Barcelona through financial turmoil. The French defender has joined Lecce on a season-long loan deal this summer but the Blaugrana are still paying his wages in full.

With his contract expiring in 2026, Barcelona will regret the option of renewing the player's deal this year.


#1 Mesut Ozil - Arsenal

Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil is arguably one of the greatest playmakers of the 21st century and his trophy collection, coupled with statistics, will prove the same.

The German international, who produced mesmerizing performances during his time at Real Madrid between 2010-2013, scored 27 goals and provided 80 assists for Los Blancos.

Hence, Arsenal broke their club-record fee to sign him for £42.4 million on deadline day in the summer of 2013. He proved to be an instant hit at the Emirates as Ozil managed 20 goals and 43 assists in his first three seasons at the club.

This included the player winning the Premier League Playmaker of the Year award in the 2015-16 season, with 19 league assists to his name.

In the following two seasons, Ozil upped his game and scored 17 goals and provided 29 assists across all competitions. His combination with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang worked wonders and Arsenal planned to build the team around the duo.

Arsenal firing 55 staff when we're owned by a multi-billionaire, have just made £££ by winning the FA Cup & qualifying for Europe, & pay Mesut Ozil £350k-a-week to sit on his arse, is morally indefensible & not what I expect from a club with our heritage. Shameful decision. https://t.co/ml3ixSyq97

Hence, in 2018, the Gunners made Ozil their highest-paid player as he signed a three-and-a-half-year deal worth £350k per week. But it would be a decision that the club would go on to regret as the attacking midfielder's antics on and off the pitch derailed his time at Arsenal.

The German player contributed only 13 goals in 78 appearances from the start of the 2018-19 campaign until January 2021. Mikel Arteta did not hand the player a single game in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign before selling him off to Fenerbahce for free in the winter window.

Hence, Ozil proved to be a huge flop for his mega deal, despite being one of Arsenal's best player until then.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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