Your team has just loosened the purse strings and spent big on one of the top talents around. You eagerly await to see him in your team’s colors, hoping that he could be the player to take your team to the next level while adding some flair to games. His first few matches are uneventful, with excuses of adjusting to a new league and system are made. More games are played with little to show for it and people begin to question this top talent. The season is well underway and he is disappearing in games – your team have signed one of the biggest flops of the season.
A flop can be one of the most disappointing aspects of football (unless it is for your rival, in which case it is a great source of entertainment). Simple tap ins are blasted into row Z, they are left in the dust by that player you thought retired years ago, and they look like a fish out of water defensively. Once a player is labelled a flop, it is difficult to shake this label, with many losing their starting spot to the academy kid, some only getting to stretch their legs during cup games, or bouncing from team to team trying to regain the form that once made them a “top talent,”
With the season now well underway, the following players have yet to justify their summer price tag or reach the lofty expectations of supporters. Some are already on the physio table, others are riding the bench, a few have announced their arrival in dramatic (and rather comical) fashion, and one or two might already be packing their bags.
All transfer figures obtained from www.transfermarkt.com
15. Adrian Lopez – Atletico Madrid to Porto (€11 million)
Adrian enjoyed two very successful seasons for Atletico before losing his starting spot last year. During his time at the Vicente Calderon, Adrian played a key role in helping Atletico to win trophies and establish themselves as a major team in La Liga. Adrian is keen to get his career back on track, however his time at Porto has been largely uneventful, with just one goal to his name in a 6-0 thrashing of BATE Borisov in their Champions League Group opener.
14. Lucas Barrios – Spartak Moscow to Montpellier (loan)
You would think that any team struggling for goals would benefit from a striker that enjoyed a tremendous amount of success under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund. Lucas Barrios has not managed to recapture the prolific form he reached with the German giants, with unsuccessful stints in Asia and Russia raising concerns over his credentials. Frustration mounts for Barrios who continues to struggle in Ligue 1, while his replacement at Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski, continues to cast a mighty shadow at Bayern Munich.
13. Marco Van Ginkel – Chelsea to A.C Milan (loan)
Taking on a player returning from a torn ACL is always a gamble and, unfortunately, this has yet to pay off for A.C Milan. Managing just 4 appearances for Chelsea last season, the 21 year old Van Ginkel is a promising midfielder and admired enough by Mourinho to only be allowed to leave on a loan deal. Sadly, Van Ginkel only made it to 30 minutes on his Milan debut before limping off. Now back to first team training, Van Ginkel will be determined to prove himself to A.C Milan, Jose Mourinho, and the rest of the world.
12. Guillermo Ochoa – Ajaccio to Malaga (free transfer)
The World Cup always produces some fantastic performances from surprise players, and Guillermo Ochoa returned from Brazil a household name for his stunning performances in goal for Mexico. He played a huge part in helping the underdogs reach the last 16, including holding the host nation to a shock 0-0 draw during the group stages. The world was excited to see what the 29 year old could produce at a big club, but since signing for Malaga, he has had to settle for being second choice behind Carlos Kameni.
11. Fernando Torres – Chelsea to A.C Milan (loan)
Worryingly long blooper films show just how far the Fernando Torres has fallen since signing for Chelsea (€58.5 million), yet people still expect the Spaniard to find his form despite injuries taking their toll on the 30 year old. A stint away from England (and the relentless press) could be just what the doctor ordered, but he will have to do a lot better than the one goal he’s mustered in his 5 appearances to shake the ‘flop’ label which has plagued his career.
10. Felipe Luis – Atletico Madrid to Chelsea (€20 million)
When a €20 million defender cannot break into the starting 11, that must mean you already have a rock solid backline, which is certainly the case for Chelsea. Luis has struggled to displace the reliable Azpilicueta at left back, but after Azpilicueta picked up a red card at Crystal Palace, Luis could now get his opportunity to justify his big price tag. The Brazilian has only gotten a real look during cup games against opposition far inferior to the favorites in the Premier League this year.
9. Shane Long – Hull to Southampton (€14.9 million)
With the mass evacuation at Southampton this summer, it is no surprise that they were quick to reach for the chequebook, as they needed to find a way to field eleven players. Some were left wondering whether or not Long, who scored just 3 goals last season, was worth a hefty €14.9 million. Southampton have been the surprise of the season so far, but Long has spent the majority of his time warming the bench, playing 90 minutes just once in 8 appearances, with no goals and one assist under his belt.
8. Thomas Vermaelen – Arsenal to Barcelona (€10 million)
Once a feared defender and an integral part of Arsenal’s defense, Vermaelen is not quite the imposing force he once was. The Belgian was unfortunate to suffer a number of injuries during his time at Arsenal, seeing him unable to break back into a backline that had a solid partnership in Koscielny and Mertesacker. Signing with Spanish giants Barcelona was a statement of intent, but more injuries keep the 28 year old on the sidelines with no competitive appearances made.
7. Eliaquim Mangala – Porto to Manchester City (€40 million)
The Frenchmen was the one of the first new signings of the summer to give fans a complete head in hands moment. In just his second appearance, Mangala may have forgotten which team he signed for as he headed the ball into his own net against Hull City, before conceding a penalty a few minutes later. Mangala is now kept out by a small muscle injury and may struggle to break back into a star studded Manchester City backline.
6. Bojan Krkic – Barcelona to Stoke City (€1.8 million)
Before a ball was kicked this season, 24 year old Bojan was predicted by many to be the signing of the summer for Premier League teams. This exciting talent, hailed ‘the next Messi’ (a long time ago), was watched closely by all of the top European teams following an impressive 41 goals in 162 games for the Spanish giants, before joining Roma in 2011. He would falter in Rome and at Milan, before joining Ajax and performing decently Despite an impressive pre season, Bojan has failed to impress in the early stages and has now just 4 appearances to his name.
5. Stefan de Vrij – Feyenoord to Lazio (€8.5 million)
This summer in Brazil, Holland’s Stefan de Vrij was one of the top defenders of the tournament. A wobbly start to life in the Italian capital was punctuated by a sending off against Genoa, after he picked up yellow cards in the 85th and 87th minute. Genoa subsequently went on to score the winner in a game Lazio dominated. Lazio fans are still waiting to see de Vrij’s dominant performances from this year’s World Cup in their team’s defense.
4. Nicklas Bendtner – Arsenal to Wolfsburg (free transfer)
Often the butt of many jokes, Nicklas Bendtner has actually scored a number of spectacular and key goals for Arsenal and Denmark over the years. His flashes of brilliance have been few and far between lately, but the striker still poses a serious threat in front of goal. A fresh start in the Bundesliga was the perfect opportunity to silence his critics, but with 0 goals in 8 games and an omission from the first team squad last time out, it seems a long way back for the Dane that previously showed so much promise.
3. Brandao – St. Etienne to S.C Bastia (free transfer)
New signings can be forgiven for a few quiet and uneventful games as they find their feet, but quiet and uneventful is certainly not Brandao’s style. After his second performance, a 2-0 loss to PSG, Brandao immediately filled his chairman with regret as he head butted Thiago Motta in the tunnel. This left Motta with a broken nose, and Brandao a lengthy ban that will see him not make his third appearance for the club until late February.
2. Luke Shaw – Southampton to Manchester United (€37.5 million)
Luke Shaw’s Manchester United career didn’t start off quite as planned, with Louis Van Gaal deeming the young left back not fit enough to be a part of his team. The 19 year old was one of the brightest young prospects last season, standing out on a Southampton team that was packed full of talent. Since reaching a suitable level of fitness for Van Gaal, Shaw has contributed little to a woeful United backline. Their recent visit to the Hawthorns proved to be a particularly frustrating evening, with Shaw being pulled out of position to allow a fine goal from Stephane Sessegnon.
1. Mario Balotelli – A.C Milan to Liverpool (€20 million)
There was a time when Mario Balotelli’s wild antics were matched by moments of brilliance, including last season when the Italian netted an impressive 18 goals in 41 matches. Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League this season, and recently angered fans, and his boss, by swapping shirts just halfway through Liverpool’s Champions League fixture with Real Madrid., which they were handily losing. Brendan Rodgers is the latest manager to try and tame Balotelli, but how many more teams will take on a player that consistently makes the back pages for all the wrong reasons?
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