Players form tends to ebb and flow, as does the form of teams. The best players have the mentality to match their ability, and as such can remain at the highest level and continue to put in top class displays over a sustained period of time. However, some players will come out of nowhere to have barnstorming seasons, while others having been tipped for big things will ultimately disappoint.
Little was expected of Leicester City this season but the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater have all performed beyond even the most optimistic of Foxes' fans wildest expectations, whilst much more was expected of Chelsea, who have had a dreadful campaign with a whole host of their players flopping. It is the latter we focus on here, looking at the players in the world game who have flopped the most this season.
There are a number of reasons why a player may 'flop', so to speak. Often a player can impress for one club, earning him a move to a new club whose differing style of play, tactics and/or management can see him struggle to replicate the form they showed at their previous club. Struggling with the weight of expectation, injuries and off-field issues are all other reasons a player may 'flop'.
Here are the top 20 soccer players who flopped this season:
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20 Theo Walcott
A lot has been expected of Theo Walcott, having been England's youngest player ever and a member of the country's 2006 World Cup squad at the age of 17. However, a decade on, now aged 27, the former Southampton youth graduate has arguably fallen well short of the levels many expected him to reach, often plagued by injuries. Having been sidelined for much of the past two seasons, this was the campaign in which Walcott needed to kick on. Instead he has scored 5 league goals in 23 appearances, the same tally he managed in fewer games in both of the previous two seasons, prompting speculation he may leave the Emirates in the summer.
19 Nicolas Otamendi
Nicolas Otemendi was brought to the Etihad in the hope of ending Manchester City's central defensive woes. Despite recruiting a number of players in the position, the Citizens have been unable to find a suitable partner for Vincent Kompany. Otamendi arrived off the back of an excellent season with Valencia, which had seen him make the La Liga Team of the Year, but the big-money Man City spent is yet to have been justified by the Argentine, and City still look out of sorts defensively whenever Kompany is out injured.
18 Geoffrey Kondogbia
French international midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia had a tremendous season in 2014-15 for Monaco, prompting a €31 million bid from Inter Milan. Since joining Inter, however, we have rarely seen the all-action, game-dominating midfield performances that fans at the Stade Louis II had become accustomed to. He has made 24 appearances in all competitions for Inter, who have once again missed out on Champions League football. Kondogbia has accepted that his performances haven't been that great, but says he was the same at Sevilla and Monaco, taking time to adjust before showing his true qualities.
17 Gabby Agbonlahor
Much less was expected of Gabby Agbonlahor than most of the others on this list, given that the former England international hasn't hit double-figures in the Premier League since 2009-10, but few could have predicted just how badly the forward has done. In 18 outings in all competitions, Agbonlahor has scored only once, and contributed virtually nothing, seemingly invisible in many games. To compound matters, Agbonlahor was recently spotted in Dubai with a shisha pipe, prompting him to step down as Villa captain.
16 Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao came into this season off the back of an incredible flop at Manchester United, surely he couldn't be that bad again, could he? Well, no, actually he has been worse. The Colombian striker who was arguably the finest in his position on the planet in 2012-13 with Atletico Madrid, was looking to recapture some of that form under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Instead, he has scored just one goal in 12 outings for the Blues, and time is running out for Falcao to reignite his career at the highest level.
15 Gokhan Inler
Given that Leicester have overachieved so remarkably this season, going from 5000/1 outsiders to Premier League champions, you could be forgiven for not expecting to see a Fox on this list. Yet Gokhan Inler probably merits a spot here. When he joined Leicester in the summer, Ranieri compared it to when Maradona joined Napoli. Yet the tireless Swiss midfielder has made a meager five league appearances this season, largely down to the exceptional form of N'Golo Kante.
14 Wilfried Bony
Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony was always likely to see limited game time. The former Vitesse man joined a Manchester City team who liked to play with one up front, and when Sergio Aguero was fit, there were few selection dilemmas over who would get the shirt for Manuel Pellegrini. However, Bony has not only found himself behind Aguero, but also 19-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho. Bony has played 21 games this season, scoring 4 goals, and has gone from being a monster of a striker for Swansea to a bit-part player at Man City; it remains to be seen whether he will feature in Pep Guardiola's plans.
Many players flop in their first season at Real Madrid, often struggling with the weight of expectations and demands of the club and its fans, something which no team in the world sets higher than Los Blancos themselves. Danilo is just another player to have struggled with this; despite making 23 league appearances for the club, the summer signing from Porto hasn't impressed. Still only 24 years of age, Danilo can take comfort in the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, both of whom had their critics in their first season at the Bernabeu, before becoming established first team stars.
12 Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney has had yet another season which has got people talking. The Manchester United and England captain continues to divide opinion, both adored and disliked in equal doses. He has had a couple of injuries this season, but still managed to played 25 league games, in which he has scored 7 goals, his lowest ever tally in his 12 years at Manchester United. Many people believe Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane should be England's two starting strikers at this years European Championship, and some may even feel Marcus Rashford is displacing Rooney in the Manchester United team.
11 Florian Thauvin
Newcastle United don't splash out fees of $17.5 million that often, so when they did for Marseille winger Florian Thauvin, big things were expected of the uncapped Frenchman. Big things never came though, and by Christmas, Thauvin had played 12 league games, failing to score a single goal or make any telling contribution to the team. As a result, he was loaned back to Marseille in January. Still only 23, Thauvin has time on his side, but he may well return to Championship club rather than a Premier League one this summer, depending on what Newcastle do in their remaining games.
10 Mario Balotelli
Time appears to be rapidly running out for Mario Balotelli to prove to everyone that he is as good as he thinks he is. After a quite frankly disastrous season at Liverpool, the Italian was loaned back to AC Milan. Despite being perennially inconsistent, Balotelli has always scored goals in Serie A, until this season that is. The former Manchester City man, now aged 25, has notched an embarrassing one goal in 16 outings for the club, seeing his stock fall even further.
It seems unlikely he will feature in Jurgen Klopp's plans next season, and he surely hasn't done enough to be sought after by yet another top club.
Remarkably, in Eder's 13 league games for Swansea this season, he has managed to make Balotelli seem prolific. The Portuguese international arrived at the Liberty with goalscoring pedigree for Braga, yet he managed to play 13 games without scoring a single goal. The towering forward has reportedly cost Swansea a total of $26,000 per minute of action he's played for the club this season, and is currently on-loan at Lille, where he has found some form at least, scoring 5 goals in 11 games.
8 Chelsea Squad
While two Chelsea players make this list in their own right, numerous others must be featured collectively. In such a disappointing and underachieving season for the Blues, there are many players who deserve to be mentioned on this list. Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Baba Rahman, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Pedro, Diego Costa and the two Chelsea players who feature on this list separately have all performed well below the standards expected from them this season. Arguably only Willian has had a genuinely impressive season at Stamford Bridge this campaign.
7 Mario Gotze
From a World Cup winner to a Bundesliga flop, those who don't follow German football could be forgiven for not having noticed the decline of this superstar. The man touted by Franz Beckenbauer as the 'German Messi' may have scored the goal which won Germany the World Cup, but his last two seasons for Bayern have been largely disappointing. He was named the Bundesliga's second biggest flop in 2014-15 and has been even poorer in 2015-16, although he has struggled with injuries to his defence. In 13 league games this season, Gotze has scored only once, and looks a shadow of the wonder kid we all saw at Dortmund.
6 Luiz Adriano
Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano was prolific over the eight years in which he spent in Ukraine playing for Shakhtar Donetsk, where he scored 128 goals in 266 games for the club. After almost a decade in the Ukraine, Adriano left the club in the summer of 2015, joining AC Milan. In Italy, Adriano has been rather underwhelming. Managing a meager 4 league goals in 21 games up against the tougher defences of Serie A.
Unimpressed, Milan tried to move the Brazilian on quickly in January, accepting a bid from Jiangsu Suning, but Adriano was unable to agree personal terms with the Chinese outfit. Whether Milan will be able to shift Adriano in the summer remains to be seen, but the Italian giants may be regretting giving the 29-year-old such a lengthy five-year deal.
5 Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure was arguably the best midfielder in the world in the 2013-14 season, and without doubt one of the most complete players on the planet. The Manchester City man scored 20 goals and had 9 assists to his name, becoming only the second midfielder to score 20 goals in Premier League history (the other being Frank Lampard). Fast forward two years and Toure isn't even a shadow of that player. His work rate has been laughable and that's reflected with his decreased tally of just 6 goals. It seems virtually certain the Ivorian will not feature in Pep Guardiola's plans next season.
4 Christian Benteke
Similar to Wilfied Bony in many respects, as Christian Benteke has also gone from being a beast up front for a lesser club to struggling for game time with a bigger club. There were a few raised eyebrows when Brendan Rodgers forked out £32.5 million for the big Belgian. Although undoubtedly talented, Benteke did not seem to fit into the ethos and style Liverpool were looking to implement, and so it proved.
The former Villa man has struggled to fit in under either Rodgers or Klopp, and has scored only 9 goals in 36 games in all competitions this season, the same as Andy Carroll managed in his first full season at Anfield.
3 Jackson Martinez
Another player who made the move from Porto to La Liga with limited success is Jackson Martinez. The Colombian forward was inspired for Porto, scoring 79 goals in 89 games, but had a short and not particularly sweet time in Madrid having joined Atletico in the summer. Despite the club having a superb track record with strikers, Martinez didn't follow in the footsteps of Torres, Aguero, Falcao, Costa & co. He scored just 3 goals in 22 games before being sold to China. Although financially the deal worked out okay for Atletico, Martinez was still a flop.
2 Memphis Depay
Dubbed the 'next Ronaldo' due to his array of tricks and ability on the ball, Memphis Depay was an exciting signing by Manchester United, who hoped the Dutchman would light up the Premier League. Depay arrived at Old Trafford fresh off the back of a remarkable campaign with PSV, in which he scored 28 goals in 40 games, picking up the Johan Cruyff Trophy, joining the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Bergkamp and Arjen Robben to have done so. He was also named the Best Young Player in the World in 2015 by France Football.
Having been handed Manchester United's legendary number 7 shirt, at his own request, much expectation was placed on the shoulders of the 22-year-old. Despite showing glimpses of his undoubted ability, Depay has been a disappointment. Regularly dropped, the player himself has claimed he needs time to adjust to the rigors of the English game, while Ryan Giggs claimed he needed to alter elements of his personal life. Depay has scored only 2 goals in 23 Premier League games this season.
1 Eden Hazard
Despite almost the entire Chelsea team having an entry on their own on this list, Eden Hazard undoubtedly deserves his own entry and it comes in at top spot. Never has a player won the PFA Player of the Year Award in the Premier League and then gone on to have such a shocker as Hazard has the following season, although he did buck the recent trend of winning the award and then signing for either Real Madrid or Barcelona, perhaps that's where he went wrong.
Hazard is of course not alone in having a hugely underwhelming season for the Blues, but widely recognised as the clubs best player, Hazard was exceptional in 2014/15, and quite rightly talked about in the same breath as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Luis Suarez. This season, it would be generous to mention him in the same bracket as Marc Albrighton and Andros Townsend. Hazard has 3 goals, 3 assists and has created 57 chances in the league this season, in comparison to 14 goals, 11 assists and 97 chances created last time out.
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