With the season nearing an end, we are taking the chance to look back at the worst signings of the season from the Premier League and Championship. Like every year, there are a number of players who arrive at clubs with huge promise, but simply fail to deliver on the big stage.
In no particular order, here are the five players we believe to be the worst signings of 2017/2018…
England veteran Joe Hart will have signed for West Ham hoping to reignite his Premier League career and secure a spot in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Russia this summer. Unfortunately for Hart, the first hope has definitely not happened, and whether he will be on the plane to Russia remains to be seen.
The Manchester City owned shot stopper was thrust into the West Ham starting line-up at the beginning of the season, only to be axed for former number one Adrian after a long run of poor performances. The psychological damage inflicted on Hart when he was humiliatingly dropped by Pep Guardiola last season has clearly taken more of a toll on the ‘keeper than first anticipated, and the once dominant figure looks a shell of the man he used to be on the pitch.
Hart was brought back into the West Ham side later on in the season after Adrian experienced some poor form himself and, despite showing glimpses of the quality he still possesses, Hart’s costly mistakes have not been eradicated.
Ty Browning joined Sunderland on loan from Everton last summer, as the youngster looked to pick up some valuable first-team experience and help lead the Black Cats back into the top flight at the first time of asking.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old, things could not have gone much worse as Sunderland have experienced one of the worst seasons in their entire history, stuck to the bottom of the Championship table.
The centre-back has made 29 appearances for Sunderland this season and has been a member of the defence that has conceded some 80 goals in the league. It is safe to say that Browning has not exactly cemented himself in Sam Allardyce’s Everton plans for next season.
Another loan player, Renato Sanches has been a huge disappointment this season, and probably arrived at Swansea as one of the brightest prospects in the entire Premier League.
Arriving from German giants Bayern Munich, big things were expected of the Euro 2016 champion, but unfortunately for the Swans, the youngster has missed much of the season through injury and has offered little in terms of a threat when he has played. Having made only 15 appearances in all competitions for his loan club, it remains to be seen whether or not Swansea will try to turn his signature into a permanent one. However, given his season, it is more likely that he will be sent back to Munich.
That being said, Carlos Carvalhal will be well aware of his compatriot’s capabilities, and could be willing to offer Sanches a shot at redemption next term.
Scottish youngster Jason Cummings arrived in Nottingham with a huge amount of expectation after three stunning seasons with Hibernian. However, the step up from the Scottish Championship to English Championship is clear for all to see, and the striker was unable to adjust quickly to the demands of EFL football.
Cummings has proved himself to be a prolific goal-getter in the past, however, his record of one goal in 14 appearances in the league for Forest led to him being loaned out to Rangers in January, where he has also experienced mixed fortunes. Aged 22, Cummings still has a chance to turn his Forest career around, but will need to hit the ground running next season and find his scoring boots if Aitor Karanka is to consider him as a starting player in his side.
Everton fans will have been ecstatic at the prospect of Barcelona youth academy graduate Sandro Ramirez lining up alongside Wayne Rooney this season. However, things did not quite go to plan for the Toffees.
Having netted 16 goals for Malaga in the previous campaign, Ramirez was brought in last summer but failed to make any sort of impact at Goodison Park. The 22-year-old has netted only one goal for Everton since his arrival which came in the Europa League, and failed to score on any of his eight outings in the league.
Having proved to be a flop, he was quickly whisked away on loan to Sevilla in January where he has experienced even worse fortunes, playing less than a handful of times for the Spanish outfit. Ramirez still has his whole career ahead of him and his Toffees career is by all means salvageable, but that does not detract from his highly disappointing first season in English football.
Three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s West Ham press conference
The Hammers are looking for a result after defeat last weekend.
The east London side were dismantled by Liverpool on the opening weekend, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that left the heavy-spenders rooted to the bottom of the Premier League at the very, very early stage of the campaign.
Improvements are needed for the hosting of Bournemouth, who beat Cardiff City last weekend, and we have identified three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference.
West Ham need all the good news they can get their hands on after last week’s mauling at the hands of Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini has provided that. While his comments are as you expect, naming the three long-term absentees, it’s what he doesn’t say that is interesting.
Fans will notice that Aaron Cresswell is not mentioned, suggesting that the experienced full-back will be available for selection after not being risked for the defeat to Liverpool due to fitness concerns – and he could therefore come into the side to replace Arthur Masuaku.
“We have no new injury news. The same three players – Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini are still out, but all the others are OK.”
Eddie Howe became the darling of English football after he led Bournemouth to the Premier League and kept the Cherries in the top-flight. While that love affair may have come to a close, with the club crashing back down to earth, he still earns plenty of praise.
Pellegrini has spoken highly of his competitor ahead of the hosting of Bournemouth and he may need to be careful, as Howe is the sort of manager West Ham should probably look towards if things do not work out well under the Chilean boss.
“Eddie Howe has done very well. He’s a very good manager and keeping them in the Premier League in that first season was a very good job. They have been there a number of years now and he’s doing very well.”
Asking fans to be patient is usually the kiss of depth and Manuel Pellegrini avoided using those specific words during his pre-match press conference. However, he did make it clear that it will take time for the dust to settle after a frantic summer window.
Fans will want a positive result at the London Stadium this weekend but the Hammers enter the match with a newly assembled squad still learning the ropes, many of whom are in the Premier League for the first time, while the majority of Bournemouth’s squad is well accustomed to the rigours of English football – many of whom have been with the club for a while.
“I hope our fans can understand that this is our first game at home but we are continuing to work with the squad. I don’t think we will have any problem with the fans.”
West Ham round-up: Carroll update, Silva shines & Spurs stadium share
A selection of news and gossip from West Ham.
In an update that cues the most obvious pun in the history of football, Claret & Hugh state that forgotten striker Andy Carroll is expected to return to first-team action before the festive season – ahead of defender Winston Reid.
Carroll’s latest injury setback may have seen him tumble down the pecking order at the club as Manuel Pellegrini moved to sign Felipe Anderson and Lucas Perez in the transfer window, both of whom could play centrally as an alternative to Javier Hernandez.
It is positive for the Hammers though, as Carroll returning before January means there is a chance he could be offloaded in the mid-season window.
Spurs at the London Stadium
In what could be the most least popular pieces of news to ever break in east London, WestHamFans.org understand that Tottenham Hotspur have requested to play their clash against Manchester City on 28th October at West Ham‘s stadium.
The Lilywhites’ planned move to a new stadium has proven to be a shambles, with delays meaning that Spurs will have to remain at Wembley for longer than initially planned – with home clashes against Liverpool and Cardiff City being moved to the home of English football, as well as the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.
Given all the technicalities in West Ham’s agreement with the stadium, they do not actually own the ground and it is not their decision on what happens with Spurs. However, they would at least have to give their consent.
With all the summer deals that went on concerning West Ham, one that slipped under the radar for many was the capture of 21-year-old Portuguese striker Xande Silva – who has proven to be an instant hit in east London.
Making his debut for the U23 side this week, Silva netted a six-minute hat-trick to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham and helped his side secure a 3-1 win. That has naturally led to plenty of praise for the young forward, including from academy chief Terry Westley.
“He is a very powerful striker and he will be given the season to settle in – it’s down to him what sort of impact he can make at the higher level but he has made a seriously good start. Fair to say we really like the look of him!”
Eyes on Azah
The transfer window may be closed but that does not mean West Ham’s activity in the market is over, as the Hammers are named as one of many sides interested in the services of Irish youngster Elvis Azah by The Daily Mail.
Azah caught the eye after spending pre-season with Cardiff City, scoring in a U18 match against West Ham, and is also being chased by Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool after earning Irish citizenship – enabling him to move to England.
Born in Ghana, the 17-year-old winger is capable of playing on either flank or in a more advanced central role.
Pellegrini would be making a mistake dropping Rice for Sanchez
The youngster should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.
West Ham‘s spell under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts on Sunday and Declan Rice could suffer as a result.
The Hammers were torn apart by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a 4-0 defeat, with Pellegrini’s squad full of new recruits struggling to hit their top gear at Anfield.
The Chilean boss spent heavily in the summer to rejuvenate his squad at the London Stadium and further changes to his side are expected ahead of this weekend’s hosting of Bournemouth, as he seeks to secure a first win with the club.
However, it is concerning that reports from Claret & Hugh suggest that Pellegrini is mulling over dropping Declan Rice for Carlos Sanchez, who was signed from Fiorentina last week for a fee of £4m – a decision that could have lasting consequences that the club will be desperate to avoid.
19-year-old Rice was one of few shining lights for the Hammers in last season’s disappointing campaign, earning 26 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough year and showing signs that he could become a long-term asset for the club.
Now capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland, Rice will be looking for continued first-team opportunities to help him cement his spot in Martin O’Niell’s side for the long-term and being dropped for a new recruit could be damaging.
“It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do. I played 32 or 33 times last year and I want to carry on this year. I want to keep playing games and keep improving and learning.”
Rice has already seen competition for a spot in the heart of the defence increase significantly following the signings of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop but his versatility proved to be decisive last weekend, as he started the game at Anfield.
Visibly furious to be subbed off at half-time, West Ham need to be very careful with the situation as they have been unable to agree on a new long-term deal with Rice despite negotiations taking place throughout the summer.
With his current deal expiring next summer, Rice could continue to snub new offers if he does not continue to earn first-team opportunities and it would see the young defender become the latest in a long line of Hammers starlets to seek a move elsewhere.
Pellegrini’s side were already forced to offload Domingos Quina to Premier League rivals Watford last week after the Portuguese ace entered the final year of his deal, and Reece Oxford is widely linked with a move abroad after impressing on loan with Borussia Monchengladbach last season.
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