Top Flops: 5 worst signings of the Premier League season
5. Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Norwich spent about £9million to bring van Wolfswinkel to Carrow Road, and his late equaliser on his debut against Everton was a great way to start his Norwich career. Twenty-six appearances later, however, and the Dutchman is still yet to add to his goal tally, and Norwich’s inability to score goals is the primary reason why there are in a massive relegation battle. Van Wolswinkel can’t take all the responsibility for this, but as a striker if you’re not going to score goals you have to at least be involved in the play. When watching Norwich, though, it is all too easy to forget that van Wolfswinkel is even on the pitch. He barely touches the ball and frequently has no real effect on matches in any way, shape or form. Admittedly there were a number of players who could have been in this position, such as Andreas Cornelius and Jozy Altidore, but given the fee payed to van Wolfswinkel, and also the increased reputation of a player with a decent scoring record in Portugal, I felt he was a larger flop than some of the other strikers.
4. Dani Osvaldo
Until doing research for this list, I had completely forgotten that Dani Osvaldo had played in the Premier League this season, which speaks volumes for his lack of impact at Southampton. He cost over £13million, and the only thing he will be remembered for on the pitch will be his brilliant goal against City. When in the team, Osvaldo seemed disconnected from his team-mates and struggled to assert his influence on the matches that he featured in. He came with a reputation as a bit of a hot-head after incidents at previous clubs, and this reputation was proven accurate when Osvaldo and Jose Fonte came to blows in the training ground that left Fonte with a badly bruised eye. Osvaldo was promptly shipped off to Juventus in the January transfer window, and he has a lot of work to do if he is to ever win over the Southampton players and fans.
3. Erik Lamela
The departure of Gareth Bale gave Tottenham a vast amount of spending money, but so far it would appear that they did not buy wisely. Erik Lamela cost around £30million when you factor in bonus payments, and has so far failed to make any impression at White Hart Lane at all. The Argentine arrived off the back of a fantastic season at Roma where he scored 15 league goals, but for a multitude of reasons he has been unable to hit his best form in London. A couple of decent performances in the Europa League have not answered questions regarding Lamela’s ability to play in the physical Premier League. Though I find this is often a feeble excuse used against foreign players, it’s fair to say that there are some technically skilled players who were simply unable to settle and perform in England, such as Adel Taarabt who has really found his feet in Italy. Spurs fan will argue that Lamela’s second season at Roma was much better than his first, and foreign players can take time to settle in a new country before finding their form. They will also point out that he has been injured a few times that has stopped him getting momentum in the team, and these are of course fair and valid arguments. However, as of now, Lamela has done little to show he is the player Spurs fans thought they were getting.
2. Marouane Fellaini
Manchester United’s farcical summer transfer window ended with them massively overpaying on Marouane Fellaini after missing out on a number of targets including Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera. Costing around £28.5million after United failed to trigger a release clause that expired at the end of July, the Belgian has really struggled to adapt to life at Old Trafford. The fact is Fellaini is not a very technically skilled midfielder, but instead uses his immense physicality to bully other midfielders and defenders. This doesn’t really work, however, when United have most of the possession and move the ball slowly through midfield. It’s not really Fellaini’s fault that he is not Paul Scholes, but his poor passing range and dribbling skills mean that he just doesn’t fit in this Manchester United midfield. United will look to strengthen their midfield this summer, and it is hard to see Fellaini playing if he is stay in Manchester.
Roberto Soldado arrived as a player who had scored at least twenty club goals in each of the four seasons prior to his move, and was dubbed as the great striker that would turn Spurs into a title challenging side. Just six league goals later, including four penalties, and Soldado has looked unrecognisable from the confident finisher we saw at Valencia. His first touch regularly fails him, and that’s not to mention the massive amount of easy opportunities he has wasted. He looks bereft of confidence, and is now probably Tim Sherwood’s third choice striker behind Adebayor and Kane. Of course, it’s not fair to totally blame Soldado and the fact that Spurs were playing with wingers who would come inside and shoot when Soldado is a player that thrives from crosses meant he was always going to struggle, and in fact when playing alongside Adebayor he has been fairly involved in play and got a few assists. That said, he’s my number one flop of the season because, of any on this list, he had by far the biggest expectations to play to. As mentioned, Spurs fans, and many football fans in general, labelled him as somebody who could push Spurs onto greater things, and his complete and abject failure to do make him stand out from everyone else mentioned.