The German top flight is usually pretty shrewd with it’s signings. Not the nation to particularly throw it’s financial weight around, unless you’re Bayern Munich and the player is currently in the Bundesliga, it’s relatively rare that they have a truly shocking signing in terms of wasted money.
However, as with any league, there are still some examples of some pretty shoddy buys. From players that saw barely 30 minutes to one banned for having a tattoo to another calling his coach a coward in February, there’s no shortage of the strange in the motherland.
So without further murmurings, here are the 10 worst transfers for the Bundesliga in the 2016/17 season:
#10 Mario Gotze – Borussia Dortmund
The strangest homecoming of the summer, Mario Gotze’s move back to the club he started his footballing adventure with came with a mixed reception. Some were happy to see the former prodigy try to rebuild himself, others haven’t forgotten how he left in the first place.
Two goals and two assists in 15 games and the picture doesn't look any rosier than it did back at Bayern Munich. The 24-year-old has been sidelined for the majority of 2017 with ‘metabolic disturbances’ and will face an uphill battle to seemingly ever reclaim the moniker of the ‘German Messi’.
When great lights like this fade so quickly, it can be so heartbreaking. A few wrong decisions, some ill-advised moments and a dramatic lack of confidence, hopefully, the translation of his surname, ‘false god’, isn’t the same title that personifies his career.
#9 Guillermo Varela – Eintracht Frankfurt
Have you ever been suspended for a tattoo? Well, Guillermo Varela has. The Uruguayan got some ink on his arm just before the DFB Pokal final, against the wishes of his manager, only for it to swell up and rule him out of training.
That then led to the club demanding that he return to his parent club and banning him from joining his teammates in Berlin. The Manchester United loanee was used sporadically and did not look particularly impressive when called upon, but he did play a part in the club’s last five games of the season.
Those signs pointed to at least an appearance against Borussia Dortmund in the showpiece event but alas, it wasn’t to be. Note this one down for future sports quizzes, as the 24-year-old will be forever synonymous with this bizarre episode.
#8 Renato Sanches – Bayern Munich
After having rave reviews of his exploits in Portugal and winning Young Player of the Tournament during his nation’s successful Euro 2016 campaign, Renato Sanches was the name on everyone’s lips. Stepping up to sign the wunderkind was Bayern Munich, seeing the teenager as a future world-beater that would add an extra dynamism to their midfield.
To say that mark has been missed would be a bit of an understatement. The 19-year-old made six starts in the league while making a further 11 appearances off the bench, failing to register either a goal or an assist and taking a back seat to the rest of the superb Bayern midfield.
A football darling just 12 months ago, it already looks like the Portuguese wants out. With signings on the way and talents like Thiago and Arturo Vidal still ahead of him, that huge outlay by the Bavarians is looking like money down the drain with every passing minute.
#7 Aleksandar Dragovic – Bayer Leverkusen
In a season full of disappointments for Bayer Leverkusen, the signing of this Austrian defender might just be a tiny blip on their radar of awfulness. Aleksandar Dragovic was highly rated coming out of FC Basel, with a number of clubs chasing his signing before he joined Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.
£12.75m later, he signed for the Bundesliga side but has not quite jelled into a faltering defence. Injuries played a part but he was involved in just five wins in 22 games with four clean sheets, two of those coming in nothing games against Monaco in the Champions League and Bayern Munich once they had already won the league title.
With Omer Toprak off to Dortmund, there is a hole they need to fill at centre-back. Whether that will be Dragovic, who might still be the best of a poor bunch, remains to be seen.
#6 Yevhen Konoplyanka – Schalke
Signing with an obligation to buy always seems strange, it’s like arranging a Tinder date whilst booking the venue for the wedding. One of those examples of it going array is Yevhen Konoplyanka and Schalke, with the former never really settling in Gelsenkirchen.
Six goals and an assist in 27 games isn’t an abysmal stat line but the fact he managed to play more than thirty minutes in a game only once after Christmas is frightening. A fall out with then-manager Marcus Weinzierl pushed him to the periphery, with the 27-year-old even telling his boss that he would outlast him at the club.
That landed him a hefty fine, the club eventually sacked the former Augsburg coach and the Ukrainian is still on board – so at least he was proven right. That doesn’t mean he’ll stay, with rumours that the Bundesliga side might still make a profit, which can be the only positive that can be taken out of this ugly endeavour.
#5 Benjamin Stambouli – Schalke
Once a promising young midfielder, now bounding around from club to club like a lost puppy, Benjamin Stambouli cannot catch a break. A move from Montpellier to Tottenham Hotspur went sour quickly, only for a return to France with Paris Saint-Germain only leading to more time on the bench.
A move to Schalke seemed like a possible remedy if midfield wasn’t their best position on the park. Struggling in a team that were well below their usual level, his 38 appearances are possibly more symbolic of the club’s plight than his ability to start for them.
A signal of the end has come, with the German club putting him up for a sale and a move back to France on the horizon. Maybe there he can lay some foundations to rebuild his confidence after being pitched from pillar to post since 2014.
#4 Jonas Lossl – Mainz
Back at Guingamp, Jonas Lossl was seen as a goalkeeper that would go one of two ways. He’s either an unbeatable shot-stopping machine or a completely beatable ghost that falls to the floor like the ragdoll physics in Grand Theft Auto.
Replacing Liverpool-bound Loris Karius, who has struggled at Anfield himself, Lossl had big shoes to fill at the Opel Arena. Not only has he failed to fill those shoes, he’s often forgotten to fill the net as Mainz plummeted towards the relegation zones.
With six clean sheets all season and averaging almost two goals conceded per game, it’s no wonder he was dropped at the end of the season. With too many faults, Mainz are angling for a replacement and even his former team finding an even better goalkeeper, the Dane looks a little lost on the Rhine.
#3 Alen Halilovic – Hamburg
When you hear that a former Barcelona academy star is heading your way, sometimes you can get a little giddy. The Catalan giants are famous for their youth setup at La Masia, with even a few of their better products slipping through their fingers initially over the years.
That is exactly what Hamburg hoped when they signed 20-year-old Alen Halilovic, already a Croatian international that impressed on loan at Sporting Gijon the year prior. However, the youngster barely played for Der Dino before being shipped back to Spain on an 18-month loan deal with Las Palmas.
139 minutes of football is difficult to judge someone on but clearly, the Bundesliga wasn’t the right place for Halilovic. Enjoying more game time with the Canary Island club and life back in Spain, it’s highly unlikely he will be seeing the Bundesliga again anytime soon.
#2 Victor Obinna – Darmstadt
If he’s honest, Victor Obinna might as well have had a nice weekend in Darmstadt rather than waste his time and their money. The former West Ham United loanee joined the Bundesliga strugglers in the summer from MSV Duisburg, hoping to add some firepower to their attack.
37 minutes of football later and by January, he was already out of the door. The minute-to-pay ratio on the Nigerian must have been immense, with the club still lacking goals after his departure and resigned to life in the 2. Bundesliga next season.
The 30-year-old is still a free agent, without a move in sight. After a few years that have seen middling results, it looks like a big gamble for any club to bring him into the fold again.
Unless you’re Chievo, he seems to like it there.
#1 Kyriakos Papadopoulos – RB Leipzig
This one is a strange one so stick with us as the Greek international has a redemption story in here. Since breaking out at Schalke almost five years ago, Kyriakos Papadopoulos has always looked like a player who could have a bright future.
Several injury setbacks and a move to Bayer Leverkusen later, he’s only really gone backwards. A loan move to RB Leipzig in the summer seemed an ideal place for him to rediscover his form, only for the club to surpass his level quickly and for him to be stuck on the sidelines.
With just one appearance in Saxony, it seemed like back to square one for the 25-year-old. However, a move to Hamburg might just have rejuvenated him, having helped them stay in the top flight and even scoring a few on the way.
It started off poorly but at least things look to be finally moving in the right direction again for Papadopoulos.