Some of the greatest strikers of their eras featured for noteworthy and memorable Premier League sides. It would be understandable if pockets of Tottenham Hotspur supporters still had nightmares that involved Thierry Henry burying tallies against Spurs. Henry was more than just a dominant goal-scorer. He was a member of The Invincibles and, when at his best, arguably the best overall talent that the Premier League has ever seen. Along with Henry among the greatest strikers in Premier League history would have to be well-known names such as Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba and, of course, Wayne Rooney.
Not every front man who has been acquired by a Premier League team has been a star. There is no one reason why every flop on this list did not work out for the teams that paid them considerable amounts of money. In some cases, the individual was merely not ready to be a key component for a club playing in one of the most-competitive leagues in the world. Others, however, were either not good enough or not physically and/or emotionally capable of finding the back of the net when playing underneath the spotlight that comes with being part of the Premier League.
All 15 of the men mentioned in this piece deserve to be listed among the worst strikers to have ever played in the Premier League. They were all, in one way or another, wastes of money for the Premier League sides that splashed cash to acquire those players. Perhaps the best story of the 15 is the one that stars a man who never should have played a second of meaningful Premier League football due to the fact that he was not, in fact, a legitimate professional footballer. You have to give that man credit for being able to sneak onto the pitch before it was learned that he was not who he said he was.
15 Andreas Cornelius
Cardiff City spent £6.09 million, a club-record transfer fee, to acquire Andreas Cornelius in the summer of 2013. It would not be a stretch to suggest that Cardiff never got the best out of this particular signing. Cornelius picked up an ankle injury in his first ever preseason match with the club and that would be just the start of his fitness issues while with the Premier League team. Eight league appearances would be all that Cardiff would get from Cornelius before the player returned to FC Copenhagen just six months after he had made the switch to the Premier League
14 Ricky van Wolfswinkel
We are, in placing Ricky van Wolfswinkel on a list of the worst Premier League strikers in history, looking into the future a bit. Van Wolfswinkel still technically has time to turn things around, as Norwich City have possession of the rights of the 26-year old who scored a goal in his debut for the club. That is, to date, his only Premier League goal, and Van Wolfswinkel has twice been sent out on loan deals. Norwich seem, as of the posting of this piece, to be headed toward a relegation battle, meaning that we may have already seen the last of Van Wolfswinkel as a Premier League player.
13 Tomas Brolin
Life can change in a hurry for any of us and that includes men who were once thought to be future great athletes. There was a time when Tomas Brolin was seen as a potential star who would be able to light it up against Premier League defenders. Brolin quickly lost the special form that he had while playing for clubs such as Parma, however, and it appeared as if his appetite for enjoying certain food and beverages was greater than his appetite for becoming a top-tier striker. Pictures of Brolin appearing to be overweight and well out of shape while wearing kits is now part of his legacy as a player.
12 Afonso Alves
It is, needless to say, a massive disappointment for any club when it is relegated to a lower division. Middlesbrough lived through this heartbreak following the end of the 2008-09 campaign, but the drop did come with one bonus: It meant that the club could finally part ways with Afonso Alves. Alves was not the single reason why Middlesbrough were relegated, but the striker never came close to being worth his £11.9 million transfer fee. His 13 goals in 49 appearances do not speak to how much Alves struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League.
11 Andriy Shevchenko
Those of us who were not involved in any discussions regarding Andriy Shevchenko linking up with Chelsea are unable to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that the signing was completed by club owner Roman Abramovich despite the fact that manager Jose Mourinho was against the move. What is known by the numbers is that Shevchenko was not worth the reported £30.31 million that Chelsea paid for the striker. Shevchenko was already past his prime by the time that he first put on a Chelsea shirt and his nine goals in 48 Premier League appearances made for a historic miss of a transfer.
10 Milton Nunez
So much about the move that saw Milton Nunez link up with Sunderland in the late 1990s remains fascinating. Nunez made just a single appearance for the Premier League outfit and that was apparently enough for the club to realize that they had not make a wise purchase. There are, to this day, several rumors about what could have gone wrong as it pertains to this transfer. One is that then-Sunderland boss Peter Reid may have accidentally signed the wrong player. Whatever it is that happened to land Nunez in the Premier League, those circumstances resulted in the player qualifying for this list.
9 Stephane Guivarc'h
There could be varying opinions on how to rate Stephane Guivarc'h among the worst strikers in Premier League history. Guivarc'h arrived to Newcastle United in 1998 when Kenny Dalglish was running the show. Things would change for the striker when Ruud Gullit replaced Dalglish, though, as fans would quickly see that Gullit was not fond of featuring Guivarc'h in the Newcastle lineup. When all was said and done, Guivarc'h would score a single goal – one that he netted in his debut – before he and Newcastle parted ways just months after that relationship had been made official.
8 Sean Dundee
Liverpool joint managers Gerard Houllier and Roy Evans needed a front man to fill in for the injured Robbie Fowler back in 1998. Enter Sean Dundee, who was signed by the Premier League club for a reported fee of £1.93 million. Dundee was deemed to be such a massive mistake by Liverpool that he was sent on his way after only three Premier League appearances. One could probably guess without looking up the numbers that Dundee failed to notch even a single goal during his brief stint at Liverpool. At least Liverpool quickly learned their lesson and moved on from this experiment that went terribly wrong.
7 Andreas Lund
One would think that it would be difficult to bury goals against Arsenal and Chelsea and yet still be mentioned as one of the worst strikers in the history of the Premier League. Andreas Lund accomplished that task because of the fact that he only scored goals against Arsenal and Chelesa. Lund appeared for Wimbledon a total of 11 times during what was a different era for the club, back when it was common to see the side in the top-flight. In his defense, Lund did notch four goals in eight appearances while playing for Norway. That is a decent stat line for one of the least-spectacular strikers to ever play in the Premier League.
6 Ade Akinbiyi
We get it if you Leicester City supporters cringe a bit upon seeing the name of Ade Akinbiyi. Akinbiyi is largely remembered for two separate matches: One that saw Akinbiyi rip his shirt off and flash his muscular upper body after he actually managed to notch a goal, and the other that involved the striker being guilty of multiple woeful misses. Akinbiyi missed four, count 'em, four sitters during a match against Liverpool. One of those shocking miss-hits occurred from roughly six yards away from goal. Akinbiyi was Roberto Soldado and Fernando Torres before either man ever played in the Premier League.
5 Michele Padovano
Perhaps Crystal Palace should have had second thoughts before acquiring Michele Padovano. Padovano was damaged goods by the time that he made the journey from Juventus to the Premier League outfit, and he was unable to locate and hold onto the form that he had enjoyed while playing in Italy. He scored just a single goal in 12 appearances for Palace. That one tally did little to help Palace, as the club was relegated. Padovano was understandably out of favor by the time his one and final season with the team concluded. He has to be considered one of the worst foreign signings in the history of the Premier League.
4 Marco Boogers
One cannot discuss the Premier League stint of Marco Boogers without first mentioning his horror challenge that took out Gary Neville. That would, unfortunately for the player, be the lasting memory that West Ham United fans would have of Boogers before he left the top-flight competition. It was later reported that Boogers had experienced some sort of breakdown that left him living in a mobile home site located in the Netherlands. Those stories would later be debunked, but they do add to the pitiful resume that Boogers made for himself while with West Ham.
3 Roberto Soldado
Just about everything regarding the signing of Roberto Soldado stung for Tottenham Hotspur fans after the fact. Spurs reportedly used £21 million of the money acquired by selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid on the Spanish striker, and in return Tottenham received a front man who could not find the back of the net from open play. The majority of fans who flocked out to White Hart Lane, to their credit, refused to turn on Soldado regardless of watching miss after miss after miss. That does not, however, take away from the reality that Soldado was downright dreadful while in the Premier League.
2 Bosko Balaban
On the list of failed Aston Villa signings, Bosko Balaban would have to take the top prize for being the worst. Balaban was acquired by Villa for what was reported to be a £5.46 million transfer fee back in 2001 and he proved himself to not be worth even a fraction of that price. The former Dinamo Zagreb striker was so overwhelmed and in such lackluster physical shape that he could not crack into the Villa starting lineup. Balaban made just eight Premier League appearances for Villa, all as a substitute, and a successful loan stint back with Zagreb did not keep Villa from giving up on the failed project.
1 Ali Dia
One could not be blamed for having a laugh upon remembering the tale of Ali Dia. Dia, so the story goes, had a friend call up Southampton boss Graeme Souness and pretend to be the great George Weah. The impostor then convinced Souness that Dia was a relative of Weah and also a striker who had played top-flight and international football. Souness signed the forward, but Southampton soon learned that Dia was not who he said he was. Dia was so bad as a substitute that he was taken off of the pitch before the end of the match. That would be his one and only meaningful appearance with the club before he was shown the door.