Transfer deadline days effectively become a game of roulette. As clubs scramble to sign players with the hours counting down, calculations and common knowledge are thrown out of the window, as excessive amounts are hurled in the general direction of players who managers think could strengthen a side.
While a few of these last-gasp transfers have proved to become wonder signings, some even amazing steals, many others have failed to hit the mark, leaving both the manager’s face and the club’s finances in the red. Here are the Premier League’s 5 worst deadline day signings, who slumped much more than they shone.
5. Andre Santos (Fenerbahce to Arsenal, £6.2m)
Ever since Ashley Cole’s much-discussed transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea, the Gunners struggled to find a stable replacement on the left side of defence, with Arsene Wenger’s desperate attempts to find a solid full-back resulting in the Andre Santos debacle.
The Brazilian moved to the Emirates from Turkish outfit Fenerbahce in 2011 for a sizeable fee, given his lack of football at the highest level and growing years, and his inadequacies in the Premier League were clearly evident during his displays for the North London club.
Showing his frailties at the back and a lack of effectiveness upfront, Santos slowly fell down the pecking order at Arsenal, and also earned the ire of his fans after exchanging shirts with opponent Robin van Persie during halftime in a match against Manchester United. Eventually, Arsene Wenger had had enough, and Santos was offloaded earlier this year on a free transfer.
4. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea, £50 million)
There was a time when Fernando Torres was one of the most feared names in European football. Having signed for Liverpool in 2007, Torres built a near-telepathic relationship with Steven Gerrard, his goals helping him to third place in the 2008 Ballon d’Or.
His form dipped in the 2010-11 season, but that did not stop Chelsea from stumping out an English record £50 million bid to sign him on the January transfer window’s deadline day.
However, much like the investment made on Andriy Shevchenko a few years previously, the money spent on Torres bore little fruit, as the Spaniard was never able to rediscover the form that saw him become a cult hero at Anfield.
Still at Chelsea, Torres has time to repay the investment in him, but for now, his transfer still remains one of the biggest deadline day gaffes in the history of football.
3. Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, £14m)
Having scored 45 goals in 38 appearances for Heerenveen, including seven goals in a single game, Alves was seen as hot property, and was snapped up by Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate for a club record fee.
However, his form took a huge dip after moving to the Premier League, as the striker managed just 10 league goals for the side during a period of a season and a half, amounting to more than a million pounds in transfer costs per goal.
After dragging Middlesbrough down to the Championship, Alves was sold to Qatari side Al-Sadd, and was never able to recover the form that saw him demand the mammoth deadline day cost in 2007.
2. Michael Owen (Real Madrid to Newcastle United, £16.8 million)
Despite a reasonably good debut season with Real Madrid, Michael Owen was deemed surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu in 2005, with Newcastle jumping first to claim the striker’s signature for a mammoth £16.8 million on deadline day.
However, the combination of a lack of fitness and form led to a massive slump in Owen’s career, that led to the Englishman amounting a total of 79 games over a period of four seasons. He scored 26 Premier League goals in that period, therefore costing the Magpies around £1.5 million a goal for the previously profilic striker.
They didn’t earn a transfer fee out of him either, as Owen left on a free transfer to Manchester United in 2009, as one of the biggest deadline day transfer failures of all time.
1. Andy Carroll (Newcastle United to Liverpool, £35 million)
Following a good season in the Championship and 11 goals in his first full season in the Premier League, Andy Carroll, then playing for Newcastle United, was the talk of the town, with multiple clubs said to be interested in a move for the starlet. Eventually, it was Liverpool who claimed his signature, spending a chunk of the money they received in fees for Fernando Torres to push a move for the Englishman.
However, former Newcastle legend Alan Shearer was not convinced, saying: “It’s an incredible amount of money for a guy who’s scored 14 goals and had half a season in the Premier League, albeit having done very well and the potential is there.”
The transfer proved to be much more of a miss than a hit, which incidentally is what Carroll did a lot in front of goal thereafter, and after falling out of favour at Liverpool, he was eventually booted out, first on loan and then on a permanent deal to West Ham United.