The Premier League has long been touted as the best league in the world and there aren’t many who would disagree with that notion.
That would also mean that the division would have the best players and while that point is not so clear-cut, it is still a very strong one. The Premier League has produced, imported, and displayed some of the best footballing talent we have ever seen. However, it has also exhibited some of the very worst.
While players such as Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard have been leading examples – despite Rooney’s recent struggles both on and off the pitch – others have shown exactly what to do to be remembered as a flop.
We will be looking at some of those players, mainly those who were around since the year 2000, but we will delve a little deeper to tell you their current whereabouts. Some of these players still play today, while others have found other employment in various forms.
The players on this list weren’t bad players throughout their careers, it’s just that they couldn’t cope with the rigors of the fast-paced demanding English top flight.
So below are 15 Premier League flops, along with their last known place of abode.
15 Bosko Balaban
Bosko Balaban strode into Villa Park with a fine goal-scoring reputation back in 2001. The Croatian cost Aston Villa £5.8 million, which was quite the sum at the time, but seemed worth it on paper as he was his country’s leading scorer.
But Balaban proved a real flop and would score just no goals in 8 appearances for the then Premier League side. He left on loan in 2002, returning to former club Dinamo Zagreb, before moving permanently a year later. And fortunately, for him, he picked up form after exiting.
So where is he now? Balaban now works as a football agent at BB Management & Consulting, according to his Linkedin profile. Things just did not go down well for him at Villa, but Balaban could be considered a prolific striker, having starred for all of his other clubs.
14 Rolando Bianchi
This striker signed for Manchester City in 2007, but only lasted one season at the club. What’s worse is he didn’t even remain there physically all season, as he was loaned out after just six months, despite getting off to a great start and scoring on his debut against West Ham.
After joining Lazio on loan for the rest of that campaign, Bianchi moved to Torino, where he spent five years, scoring 77 goals in 180 appearances for the Italian side. He is recognised as one of the best players to ever pass through there and is the tenth highest-ever scorer at the club.
Where is he now, though? Bianchi, 33, is still an active player, and is now at Perugia, having signed with the club in January of 2016 after leaving Spanish outfit Mallorca.
13 Steve Marlet
Frenchman Steve Marlet joined Fulham in 2001 and spent the next four seasons attached to the club. That also includes a two-year loan spell at Marseille.
Marlet came in as Fulham’s record signing, with a fee of £11.5 million and was the club’s most expensive signing until Konstantinos Mitroglou in 2014. He made 54 appearances for the Cottagers, scoring just 11 goals, but many will say that it was because he was played out of position. He was deployed as a centre forward during his time at Craven Cottage, however, he was thought to be stronger as a winger.
Where is he now? After leaving Fulham in 2005, Marlet went on to sign for Wolfsburg, Lorient, Aubervillers and Red Star. He retired at Red Star (France) and now works as the club’s sporting director.
12 Lilian Laslandes
Lilian Laslandes was bought by Sunderland in 2001 as a replacement for an aging Niall Quinn. Quinn, a cult hero among Black Cats fans, made his name at Manchester City and continued on at Sunderland. He made over 200 appearances for both sides, but is best known for his exploits at Sunderland.
It was always going to be hard to fill his boots and Laslandes failed quite miserably. He made just 12 appearances for the club before manager Peter Reid decided to cut his losses and he didn’t manage to score any goals. He would spend the rest of his Sunderland career on loan at Koln and Bastia before moving for good.
Laslandes is now a coach, and last February, he was reported to have taken a job at Bordeaux, where he used to be a player, while also working as an attacking coach for Ligue 2 side Niort.
11 Daniel Cordone
This Argentine forward spent one year at Newcastle during his career, the only season he spent playing outside of his home country. Signing for the side in 2000, Cordone never quite fit in. He played 21 matches for the Magpies, but only scored on two occasions.
All three of his goals were scored in the League Cup and he returned to Argentina the following year, going down the divisions as his career dwindled down.
So what is the former forward up to now? Well, last we hear, he was busy impersonating other footballers. Two years ago, Cordone was said to have pretended to be compatriot Claudio Caniggia in a friendly Masters match against Brazil. Caniggia represented Argentina 50 times during his career, but Cordone had never. He even wore Caniggia’s No.7 jersey during the match, which didn’t go down too well with fans.
It has never been confirmed, but with the player heading straight down the tunnel after the match in attempts to escape the press, it seemed very suspect.
10 Lee Dong-Gook
The South Korean is one of the best-ever strikers in K-League history. He signed for Middlesbrough on an 18-month deal in 2007, having spent time on loan in Germany with Werder Bremen. Making 29 appearances for the Teesiders, he only scored two goals.
The hierarchy at Boro decided not to renew his contract after it expired and he moved back to his country to sign with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, where he only made a handful of appearances.
So what is this Asian sensation up to these days? As it happens, he’s still active and plugging away in the K-League with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at age 37. He scored 15 goals in 35 appearances for the side this year, who finished second this season, losing out to FC Seoul by a margin of three points.
9 Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu joined Chelsea from Parma in 2003 as one of Roman Abramovich’s expensive exports, costing the club around £22 million. He wasn’t a bad forward at all and was a dependable scorer. But he’s made it on this list because of a failed drug test just one year after signing for the Blues.
Mutu was released from Chelsea one month after the results came to the fore. He was also fined £20,000 by the FA and banned for seven months for testing positive for cocaine. This left him open to compensation claims from Chelsea as cocaine use was an obvious breach of his contract.
Chelsea did make said claim, but the matter dragged on for years and Juventus, the club he signed for next were ordered to foot the bill of about £14 million. They were cleared in January of 2015 again leaving Mutu to pay on his own.
The Romanian now works as the General Manager of Dinamo Bucharest, the club he played for in his early days and is married to 22-year-old former Miss Romania Sandra Bachici.
8 Andriy Shevchenko
Another one of Roman Abramovich’s pricey purchases, Andriy Shevchenko came to Stamford Bridge as one of the most deadly strikers in Europe. Having scored over 160 goals in seven years at AC Milan, Sheva was also a Serie A and Champions League winner.
Jose Mourinho was in his first stint as Blues boss and was against the transfer, but was powerless to prevent it. The club shelled out £30.8 million for the Ukraine legend in 2006, smashing their own record for most expensive purchase, as well as the British transfer record. However, the player was loaned back to AC Milan two years after joining and permanently joined Dynamo Kiev – the club where he began his career - in 2009.
So where is the ex-striker now? Shevchenko ended his career at Kiev in 2012 to pursue a career in politics. Like his Chelsea career, that didn’t work out very well. But back in July, 2016, he was named manager of the Ukraine national side.
7 Gabriele Ambrosetti
The erstwhile midfielder joined Chelsea from Vincenza in 1999 after impressing in a European Cup Winners Cup semi-final against the Blues. Gianluca Vialli forked out £3.5 million in order to get the player he described as the ‘Italian Ryan Giggs’, but Ambrosetti was nothing close to that and failed quite miserably.
He only made 16 Premier League appearances for the side, scoring just one goal. Also, he made just one appearance for Vialli’s side during their triumphant FA Cup campaign. Ambrosetti was subsequently loaned to Italian outfit Placenza, then loaned again to Vincenza, then Placenza again, before signing permanently with Placenza and eventually retiring with Pro Patria.
The ex-player joined Swansea’s coaching staff in January of 2016, under Francesco Guidolin. However, he left the club along with the manager when he was sacked by the club in October, so he's managerial career is up in the air at the moment.
6 Karim Bagheri
Karim Bagheri, signed by Charlton Athletic in 2000, was the first Iranian to ever play in the Premier League. Sadly, that was his most notable achievement playing in England.
The midfielder cost the Addicks just £400,000, yet still couldn’t live up to that price tag. He only made one 15-minute appearance for the side and was sold to Al-Sadd the following season. Prior to his Carlton move, Bagheri had played in the German Bundesliga with Arminia Bielefeld.
The club found themselves relegated in his first season, but he helped them get right back up in his second term, gaining much acclaim for his consistent performances. Perhaps that’s what tempted Charlton to buy him after he moved to FC Persepolis, but that obviously didn’t work out too well.
Bagheri, who scored 50 goals in 80+ appearances for Iran, now works as assistant coach at Persepolis, having gained appointment in April of 2015.
5 Claude Davis
One of the worst defensive buys in the history of the Premier League, Claude Davis cost Derby County £3 million in 2007. The former Jamaica international started out with Portmore United in his homeland, before catching the eyes of scouts at Preston North End, who initially signed him on loan before scratching up a permanent deal.
After a decent three-year spell at Preston – despite a season that ended in relegation with Sheffield Wednesday thereafter - Derby took him up in the hopes that he would produce the same form at Pride Park. The club used a portion of their promotion cash to snag the player’s signature, a decision they must still regret. It proved a terrible move. Davis made 19 appearances in a very poor Derby campaign, during which they recorded the least amount of points ever in the Premier League (11).
He now works as the coaching director at ACYS Spirit United, a Christian soccer academy in Florida.
4 Calum Davenport
This former defender showed real promise early on in his career, but never reached the heights he was expected to as a player. Davenport began his career at Coventry City in 2000, then joined Spurs for a fee of £1.3 million in 2004.
He left on loan for West Ham that same year, also playing for Southampton and Norwich City as a loanee. After just a handful of appearances for Tottenham, he was let go for good three years later, with West Ham taking him up on a permanent deal. He was still sent out on loan, though, signing deals at Watford and Sunderland.
Upon his return to West Ham in the 2009/10 season, Davenport found himself the victim of a gruesome stabbing attack which threatened to end his career, as he suffered wounds to both his legs. He was later released from West Ham, but was able to play again after recovering.
He eventually ended up at Elstow Abbey Football Club, and last we heard of him was in March of 2015, when he was arrested for assaulting a teammate. He was immediately dropped by the club after the incident.
3 Christian Bassedas
Christian Bassedas signed for Newcastle in the year 2000, coming in with a great reputation, having starred for Argentinian side Velez Sarsfield. The versatile South American cost the Magpies £3.5 million and could slot both in midfield and in defence.
But being deployed as a central midfielder at Newcastle, he looked nothing like the player who had risen to acclaim in his home country. He made just 24 appearances for the Tyneside outfit, scoring a solitary goal in the process and would return to Argentina in 2003 to play for Newells Old Boys.
Bassedas played for his country in qualifying matches for the 1998 World Cup, but did not play during the Finals. He captained the side to a gold medal in the 1995 Pan American Games, however, also winning a silver at the 1996 Olympics.
Since retiring, Bassedas took up the job as General Manager at Velez Sarsfield. Last November, he was appointed as team manager, but left the post two months ago after a tough loss.
2 Moustapha Salifou
Described as one of the worst-ever signings made by Aston Villa (by outsiders), Togolese midfielder Moustapha Salifou made just four appearances for the Birmingham club in four years. Somehow, he still managed to get himself a year’s extension to his initial deal halfway into his stint.
His impact on the club’s reserves got him lots of plaudits, though, as he was said to have helped nurture the team’s academy players by passing on his experience. Despite his lack of game time with the first team, Salifou was still well liked by Villa fans, who even gave him his own chant.
After being released in 2011, he went on to sign for clubs in Germany and is still playing for Turkspor Augsburg. Salifou has also made 59 appearances for Togo, with six goals to his name.
1 Paul Okon
An Australian with Belgian citizenship, Paul Okon proved to be one of the biggest flops in the English top flight. Having impressed at Club Brugge in the early 90s, Okon’s performances caught the eye of Lazio manager Dino Zoff, who personally flew to Belgium to sign the player.
Okon could play both in midfield and defence, but was said to have preferred playing at the back, which led to Zoff promising to give him plenty of time in a sweeper role before he put pen to paper in 1996. However, due to Roberto di Matteo leaving for Chelsea, he was forced to play in midfield.
He then moved to England in 2000, joining Middlesbrough, but did not at all impress, but Leeds still took him in after he spent a season on loan at Watford. Things got even worse for him and he would move to Vincenza at the end of the season.
Okon is now manager of the Central Coast Mariners in Australia. He was appointed head coach in August this year, having worked as manager of the Australia Under-20 National side from 2012.