10 expensive foreign players who flopped in the Premier League
Italy striker Mario Balotelli completed his transfer back to Serie A club AC Milan this week after an unsuccessful stint with Liverpool. The Italian, however, was not the only casualty of a foreign talent failing in the most competitive league in the world.The sheer pace, physicality and work ethic of the Barclays Premier League is enough to flatten even the best in the world and players need to adjust to these aspects as quickly as they can if they aim to be successful in England. Despite Balotelli’s stint previously in the league with Manchester City, he still found it difficult to adjust. It is a testament to the always evolving EPL that seems to inevitably become increasingly difficult to navigate for teams and players every year.It was absolutely normal that transfer records were broken on numerous occasions in the past to bring in the most sorted international players to the country. But not all those deals went according to the script.We take a look at some expensive foreign imports, which went awfully wrong in the Premier League.
The talented Ivorian signed for Arsene Wenger's side for a fee of £10.8m in 2011 to partner prolific Dutch international Robin van Persie. Gervinho's Premier League career, however, did not get off to an ideal start as he was sent off in his very first match against Newcastle United. He started finding his feet as the season progressed, but he never reached the levels he achieved at his former club Lille.
Scoring just nine goals in forty-six appearances for the club, the Ivorian international signed for Italian side AS Roma in 2013 to reunite with former boss Rudi Garcia. Arsene Wenger suggested the reason for his sale was the lack of confidence Gervinho had in himself and believed that a new challenge would be an ideal scenario for him.
Gervinho himself lashed out of Wenger insisting he never got proper guidance under the French boss and that Le Professeur failed to interact with the players other than his playing XI.
#9 Erik Lamela
Nicknamed Coco, the young winger was supposedly brought in by Tottenham Hotspur following the impending departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. He made a £30m move to London, eclipsing the club record in the process. His exceptional pace and dribbling abilities were an attribute, which saw him being pursued by then manager Andre Villas-Boas.
However, he never set the ball rolling with Spurs after an excellent season with Roma a year before. He was also plagued with multiple injuries, which forced him out of playing eleven on several occasions in his debut season. Lamela improved immensely under new boss Mauricio Pochettino the year after, but goals and assists were still few and far in between.
Pundits sighted his unsuccessful attempts to dribble across defenders than to pick a simple pass a reason for his failure. At just 23, he is still pretty young, but needs proper grooming and a long run in the team to really prove his worth. Talks of a loan deal with Internazionale hover around London, which really would not be a bad idea to help the Argentine discover his former self.
Abu Dhabi United Group headed by Sheikh Mansour made a stunning entry into the Premier League taking over Manchester City during the fag end of the 2008 transfer window. Intending to make a statement, they successfully moved for Real Madrid starlet Robinho for a then British transfer record of £32.5m. He was poised to move to Chelsea and reunite with former Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari, but City managed to hijack the deal just before the transfer deadline.
The Brazilian was City's top scorer in his first season at the club finding the back of the net 14 times. However, he had a horrific second season being forced out due to injury for as many as three months.
With Carlos Tevez having arrived at City, Robinho failed to find a starting spot ahead of the Argentine. Subsequently, he was loaned out to his former team Santos, virtually ending his term with the Citizens. In 2010, Manchester City sold Robinho to Italian giants AC Milan, ending his nightmare in England.
#7 Diego Forlan
The Uruguayan has been his country's most successful footballer, being at his sublime best in South Africa en route being voted as the Player of the World Cup in 2010. He managed to score a goal every two games during his stint with Atletico Madrid.
But, Diego Forlan simply could not find his feet at Manchester United. Forlan joined the Red Devils in a £6.9m move from Argentine club Independiente during the 2002 winter transfer window. Great things were expected of the striker, but he never really managed to put on his goal-scoring shoes. Quite literally! He was advised by Sir Alex to wear longer studs in order to improve his game, but the manager soon found out he never heeded his word.
Forlan needed a staggering 27 games before he opened his account for United. Even after that, goals were hard to come by for him, spilling some exceptionally easy chances on more than one occasion. He ultimately made a move to Spain following a disastrous three campaign at United joining Spanish club Atletico Madrid.
#6 Alberto Aquilani
Alberto Aquilani was one of the most sorted footballers when he made a £17m move to Liverpool in 2009. Anfield was buzzing with their new signing, but a persistent ankle problem meant that the Italian did not make his Premier League debut until November.
Hailed as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, who departed for Real Madrid that season, Aquilani was more of an attacking midfielder than a holding one like his predecessor. After an injury-hampered season, the midfielder still managed a decent six assists in his first season. Aquilani was a serious talent having a good eye for a ball and was a tireless worker but lacked physical presence on the pitch - a major reason cited for his failure in England.
With new boss Roy Hodgson arriving at Merseyside, he was deemed surplus to requirement. Subsequent unsuccessful loan spells at Juventus and Milan followed his Liverpool stint, after ultimately signing for Fiorentina in 2012.
#5 Juan Sebastian Veron
Probably the biggest transfer flop of Sir Alex Ferguson's illustrious managerial career at Manchester United, Juan Sebastian Veron arrived at Old Trafford for a then British record transfer of £28.1m in 2001. The Lazio man came with the reputation of being the ultimate playmaker dictating the tempo of the game and setting up some vital passes for team-mates.
His former manager Sven Goran Eriksson convinced him to come to England and many thought his arrival would take the Red Devils to new highs, having already coasted to three Premier League titles in a row. However, he failed to adapt to the rigours of the league, often being found out for pace in a team, which included the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
His form in Europe was decent, but he could not reproduce the same skills while performing in the league. Playing 51 games over a spell of two years, he hardly had the impact one expected of him and was ultimately sold to Chelsea in a £15m deal.
Little known midfielder Anderson caught everyone's eye after he made a big money £17m move to Manchester United. Some even suggested he would be better than Rooney and after some impressive performances against Arsenal and Liverpool, he soon became a name to be reckoned with in the Premier League.
His greatest highlight was probably winning the Champions League in 2008, when he came on at the last minute in the final as a 20-year old and scored the sixth penalty in the shoot-out. But it was all downhill for the talented Brazilian after that wonderful night.
His tryst with his injuries did not help whatsoever, facing nagging knee problems on a handful of occasions. He never really managed to hold his place in the line-up during his spell at Old Trafford, featuring in just 105 games in his eight-year association with the Premier League giants. Anderson's days were numbered after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and he returned to his native Brazil to join Internacional in 2015.
#3 Roberto Soldado
Much was from expected from the Spanish international when he arrived at Tottenham Hotspur in August 2013 for a then club record £26m. Soldado was amongst the top scorers in Spain during his time with Valencia and he arrived in London with a big reputation.
He made an immediate impact scoring in his very first game against Crystal Palace, but that seemed to be the only bright spot during his tenure in London. He netted just six times in his first season and it was comfortable to label his debut season a failure. It got worse the following season as little known entity Harry Kane stole the spotlight from the Spaniard.
Soldado was the classic poacher of a striker and many blamed the lack of chances created for him the reason for his failure in the Premier League. In August 2015, after two lacklustre seasons in the Premier League, he returned to his homeland, signing with Villareal for a deal worth £10m.
#2 Andriy Shevchenko
When Andriy Shevchenko arrived at Chelsea in August 2006 for a then British record transfer of £30.8m, Jose Mourinho described it as a dream transfer come true. Little did he know that Shevchenko's spell in London would turn out to be more of a nightmare than a dream.
The prolific Ukrainian striker came off a very successful stint for Italian giants AC Milan, having featured in over two hundred games for the Serie A club. However, his stunning goal-scoring record did not follow him to the Premier League. Subsequent injuries did not help him either and Didier Drogba's emergence as Chelsea first-choice striker sent the Ukrainian down the pecking order.
Gathering only 9 goals from 48 appearances in the Premier League, he was aptly labeled as a flop from both fans and pundits alike. With the arrival of new boss Luiz Filipe Scolari, Shevchenko was loaned off to former club AC Milan in 2009, but he never seemed to discover his former self even in Italy. Chelsea finally sold the striker to his former club Dynamo Kyiv ending his dismal run in England.
#1 Angel Di Maria
The Argentine arrived at Manchester United in August 2015 for a British transfer record of £59.7m after falling out of favour with Spanish giants Real Madrid. United beat French champions Paris Saint-Germain for di Maria's signature and immediately presented him with the legendary number '7' jersey.
Di Maria was impressive in Argentina's road to the World Cup final and carried his good form into the Premier League, scoring against newly promoted QPR and Leicester City. But, the winger's form degraded after a hamstring injury and he could never replicate the glimpses of magic he showed in the early part of the season. To add to all that, he was never able to hold down a regular place in the starting XI.
To add to his woes, a reported break-in by burglars at his mansion further seemed to have unsettled the star and his family in Manchester. Though he scored four goals and provided ten assists during his time in Manchester, the winger moved to France after just a year in England, signing for PSG in a £44 million deal.