The most watched, most lucrative and most broadcast sports league on the planet, the Premier League is a real titan of world football. The league generates $2.4 billion a year in TV rights, a figure that is about to grow even further, with the league recently signing a deal worth an eye-watering $7.7 billion. As such, there are vast amounts of money in the league, as well as prestige, meaning it attracts some of the best players in the world.
Now almost a quarter of a century old, as well as the world class talents that have graced the league, so too have some real duds. Ali Dia is most commonly cited as the worst Premier League player in history, having conned his way into a cameo appearance for Southampton despite having never played at a higher level than non-league football. This list is only for current players though, and with the scouting, research and resources of the Premier League, no players of Ali Dia’s ineptitude currently grace the league.
The list only includes those named in a Premier League team’s 25 man squad as a senior player. It is based on current ability, not prior achievements; some of those who feature were talented players at one time, but have performed woefully for a considerable amount of time. Here are the top 15 worst players in the Premier League today:
15. Yoan Gouffran
Out-of-favor Newcastle United winger Yoan Gouffran currently finds himself on the bench at St. James’ Park following some less than inspiring form in the North East. The Frenchman joined Newcastle from Bordeaux for less than $1 million with only six months left on his contract. Gouffran has shown glimpses of the quality which saw him win 22 caps for the France U-21 side, but has been wildly inconsistent and ineffective more often than not. Linked with a move away in the summer, Gouffran is still at Newcastle and has – to date – scored 11 goals in 82 games for the club.
14. Andrej Kramaric
Leicester City are flying high, currently defying all odds to top the Premier League table in early December, largely thanks to their prolific goal scoring. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez in particular have been a revelation, but one man who is yet to hit those heights in the blue of Leicester in Andrej Kramaric.
The Croatian forward arrived as a club record signing in January 2015, but scored only two goals in 13 games as Leicester escaped relegation. It’s been a similar story this season, as Kramaric has barely played, doing little to convince Claudio Ranieri he merits even a place on the bench.
13. Steven Whittaker
Now in his fourth season at Norwich City, 31-year-old Steven Whittaker has been both relegated from and promoted to the Premier League with the Canaries. A right-back distinctly lacking in pace, Whittaker looks capable in the Championship but something of a liability against the increased tempo and ability of the Premier League. The Scotland international began the season as a starter, but lost his place to Liverpool loanee Andre Wisdom after being sent off against Southampton in August.
12. Marc Pugh
Industrious and reliable but not quite Premier League quality, Marc Pugh joined Bournemouth from the now non-league side Hereford United five years ago, and had never played at a higher level than the third tier at that time. Over his half decade on the south coast, Pugh has won two promotions, now sitting at the top table of the Premier League.
Eddie Howe seemed to suspect the Premier League would be where Pugh was found out, and recruited players such as Max Gradel to take his place, but injuries have kept Pugh in the starting 11.
11. Adlene Guedioura
The 30-year-old Algerian international midfielder has been playing in England for more than six years, having first joined Wolves in the Premier League. After a poor spell in the top flight with Crystal Palace, Guedioura dropped down to the Championship with Watford, but now finds himself back among the elite. A bit-part player last season, Guedioura has played four games so far this season, in which he failed to impress, and has found himself on the bench ever since.
10. Wes Brown
A man who won 19 trophies at Manchester United, 23 caps for England and has even been named in the PFA Team of the Year surely does not warrant a place among the worst the league now has to offer, except Wes Brown, now aged 36, really does. The former treble winning defender’s pace has deserted him and he looks a shadow of his Old Trafford days, where he was a very useful utility player at the back for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Brown now finds himself behind John O’Shea and Younes Kaboul in the pecking order at the Stadium of Light, and his time in the Premier League appears to be drawing to a close.
9. Joshua King
Still only 23 years of age it appears a little harsh to be ruling out the talents of former Manchester United youngster Joshua King, but one simply fails to see how his development could come on to a point where he became a useful Premier League player. King has fantastic pace, but very little else. His mental attributes are poor and he isn’t the most technically gifted of footballers. His goal scoring record as a forward is dreadful, with a career total of 11 goals in 120 games, and he wouldn’t be getting a look in at Bournemouth were it not for the injury to Callum Wilson.
8. Gabriel Agbonlahor
At one time Gabriel Agbonlahor was a very promising young striker. Blessed with explosive pace, power and a decent shot, he broke into the Aston Villa team at 19 and won his first England cap at 22. Now aged 29 though, it speaks volumes that Agbonlahor’s three best seasons came between the age of 21 and 24. He has scored only 10 goals in his last 67 Premier League games, and one struggles to see him retaining top flight status should Villa be relegated this season. Agbonlahor seems to have regressed further as a footballer this season, and has only played three games, looking abysmal on each occasion.
7. Gabriel Obertan
From one Gabriel to another, Gabriel Obertan also showed promise as a youngster, representing his country at U-21 level whilst on the books at Manchester United, but never really impressing in his 14 games with the club. Obertan is another pacy player but often looks clueless with regards to what to do with the ball, and has almost no end product. Following his flop at Old Trafford he moved to Newcastle, where he has scored two Premier League goals in 58 games over four years, and currently can’t even get a place on the bench in a struggling Newcastle side.
6. Joey O’Brien
The 2015-16 season is Joey O’Brien’s 11th season in the Premier League, aged 29, but that stat only tells half the story. There is only one of those 11 seasons in which O’Brien could be considered a regular. For the most part, he has been a bit-part utility player only called upon when absolutely necessary. Currently at West Ham, O’Brien hasn’t played a single league game this season, but has had two outings in the cup. Last season he managed a slightly more impressive nine appearances and it is difficult to see him still being a Premier League player next season.
5. Alan Hutton
Hilariously recently named in L’Equipe’s combined ‘Britain XI’ in a desperate attempt to include a Scotsman, Alan Hutton is fortunate to be getting in an Aston Villa XI on current form. The committed right-back who is often accused of being a dirty player has won 49 caps for his country is currently in his ninth Premier League season, but like O’Brien he has rarely been a regular starter, and has only played 20-plus league game in two of those seasons. Hutton has been calamitous this season in an Aston Villa team who are stranded at the foot of the Premier League table with the division’s worst goal differential.
4. Lloyd Doyley
Watford legend Lloyd Doyley has spent his entire 14 year career with the Hornets, playing almost 450 games for the club and experiencing numerous highs and lows, playing in both the Championship and Premier League. Doyley’s contract was actually due to expire in 2015, but he has remained on the books at the club as he recovers from a long-term neck injury. The Jamaican international can play in any position across the backline but was already showing signs of decline before his injury and would be unlikely to stake much of a claim for first team football were he fit now.
3. Paulo Gazzaniga
Southampton’s fourth choice goalkeeper behind Fraser Forster, Maarten Stekelenburg and Kelvin Davis, it was a mark of Ronald Koeman’s faith – or lack of rather – in the young goalkeeper that when Fraser Forster picked up an injury, the Dutchman felt obliged to dip into the loan market. Gazzaniga has played 19 league games in three years at Southampton since joining from Gillingham in 2012, a move he described as “a dream”. It’s been more like a nightmare for Saints fans though, when the Argentine is handed a start, something which is yet to happen this season in either the league or cups.
2. Danny Graham
Since an impressive start to life in the Premier League with Swansea, Danny Graham has been spectacularly useless up front. Since leaving the Swans, Graham has played for Sunderland and Hull in the top flight, with a combined record of two goals in 45 Premier League games for both clubs.
Slow, lacking in anticipation and comically poor in front of goal, Graham appears to have been found out by new Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce who is yet to start the struggling striker, who will almost certainly have to drop down to the Championship with his next move.
1. Mike Williamson
The worst player in the Premier League right now and one of the worst in the league’s history, Mike Williamson is so far out of his depth in the Premier League it is difficult to comprehend. Williamson joined Newcastle from Portsmouth in 2009, and he played 17 times as the Magpies won promotion back to the Premier League. Alongside an Argentine international in Fabricio Coloccini at the heart of the Newcastle defense most of the time, Williamson is technically woeful.
He is a slow player, both of thought and genuine pace at the highest level, and is routinely beaten and skinned by the top quality players that ply their trade in the top flight. Williamson’s time at Newcastle reached new lows last season when interim manager John Carver accused him of deliberately getting sent off against Leicester City in his post-match interview. The 32-year-old was loaned out to Championship side Wolves earlier this season but had to be recalled due to injuries.
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