The concept of Deadline Day has become rather a divisive issue in recent times. The day itself, which occurs twice a year, on the final day of both the summer and winter transfer windows, continues to split opinion. Some people love it, seeing it as a major footballing occasion surrounded by excitement and intrigue. Others dislike it, claiming it is merely over-hyped by Sky Sports and only leads to panic buys. A number of high-profile managers and players, including the likes of Arsene Wenger and Alan Pardew, have criticised both the window itself and Deadline Day.
Whatever people think of it, Deadline Day is here and appears to be growing. The end of every window seems to see increased coverage, expenditure and interest. On the last day of the summer transfer window, Premier League clubs forked out $130 million on Deadline Day alone, and $1.24 billion across the entire window. Spending this January has been considerably lower, as is often the case, but one can expect yet more fireworks this Deadline Day in under two weeks time.
Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole rank among the finest Deadline Day deals ever struck, but for every hit, there are normally three or four misses. It is the misses that this list celebrates, featuring 20 truly woeful Deadline Day deals. Taking into account cost, club size, performances, ability and achievements; here are the top 20 worst Deadline Day signings in soccer history:
20. Benni McCarthy to West Ham
A Bafana Bafana legend, Benni McCarthy is South Africa’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 32 goals for his country. In the Premier League too, McCarthy was often a dependable scorer. In four years at Blackburn Rovers, McCarthy scored 52 goals in 140 games. He left Lancashire in 2010, aged 32, on Deadline Day of the January transfer window, signing a two and a half year deal with West Ham. With the Hammers struggling, it was hoped McCarthy’s goals would steer them to safety. He spent two seasons at the Boleyn Ground, West Ham were relegated in his second, finishing last, and McCarthy left the club on a free transfer with a record of no goals in 13 games, it cost West Ham almost $2.5 million to pay him off.
19. Hossam Ghaly to Tottenham
Not an expensive signing but a disastrous one nonetheless, Hossam Ghaly joined Spurs from Feyenoord on January Deadline Day 2006, for a fee of around $3.5 million. The Egyptian midfielder had an eventful, if not successful, time at the Lane. After a decent start to life in English football, Ghaly threw his Tottenham future – quite literally – into doubt, in May 2006. Having being substituted in a game against Blackburn, Ghaly took off his shirt and threw his it to the ground in frustration. The club’s supporters and staff were unimpressed, and Ghaly barely featured in North London again, eventually joining Nasr on a free transfer in 2010.
18. Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea
It may be a little premature to call this one a bad piece of business, after all, Chelsea have often bought, loaned out and then sold players for a profit. However, Cuadrado is not a youngster, and unless the second half of his loan at Juventus is a roaring success, Chelsea are unlikely to make a profit on him. Cuadrado joined Chelsea following a magnificent season at Fiorentina, but struggled to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. He played only 12 league games, mostly off the bench, as Chelsea waltzed to the title last season, before being loaned to Juventus this term. Having shelled out $33 million, which could potentially rise to $38 million, as things stand, Cuadrado looks a poor signing by the Blues.
17. Chu Young Park to Arsenal
One of the most famous and controversial transfer hijackings in recent years, Chu Young Park arrived at a hotel in Lille on Deadline Day 2011. However, when officials arrived at the hotel, the one-time poster boy of South Korean football had disappeared. It turned out, Park had been offered better terms by Arsenal, left the hotel and hopped on board the Eurostar heading for London. He may have gone on to regret that decision, as the $7 million signing barely featured for Arsenal, playing only one league game in three years at the Emirates.
16. Bryan Ruiz to Fulham
Bryan Ruiz arrived at Craven Cottage as something of a coup for Fulham. The Costa Rican playmaker joined the club with serious pedigree, having impressed for FC Twente during a two-year spell at the club. Fulham spent $12 million to get their man in on Deadline Day 2011. Ruiz showed glimpses of what a good player he can be, but never anything more, and once Fulham were entrenched in a relegation battle, it seemed Ruiz didn’t have the steely toughness required for a battle such as that. He played a total of 97 games for the club but jumped ship following relegation, first on-loan, and then on a permanent to Sporting Lisbon for a little in advance of $1 million.
15. Paul Konchesky to Liverpool
Roy Hodgson had a miserable time as manager of Liverpool, and signing Paul Konchesky was one of a flurry of unfortunate incidents that occurred under his stewardship. The two-time England international had been as solid as they come under Hodgson at Fulham, so there was little surprise when the now-England manager looked to bring him to Anfield. Liverpool paid Fulham $4 million to acquire the left-backs services, as well as handing him a lucrative four-year deal. He lasted only 6 months at Liverpool, looking hopelessly out of his depth before being loaned out to the Championship and eventually sold to Leicester City for $1.7 million.
14. Andre Santos to Arsenal
Brazilian left-back Andre Santos has somehow managed to amass 24 caps for his country, which perhaps says more about the quality of the Brazilian national team in recent years than the player himself. A defender in the loosest sense of the word, Santos joined Arsenal on Deadline Day in 2011 from Fenerbahce, in a deal worth around $10 million. He left the Gunners after two years, returning to Brazil with Flamengo on a free transfer. Santos played 33 games for Arsenal, scored 3 goals and was perhaps best remembered for swapping shirts with Robin van Persie at half time and being lambasted for the act.
13. Benjani to Manchester City
Zimbabwean striker Benjamin spent 6 years playing in England, with -it is fair to say – fairly mixed results. 19 goals in 70 Premier League games for Portsmouth represented a pretty impressive return, and it was that form which saw Manchester City pounce with a deal worth an initial $5 million with the potential to rise in advance of $10 million. More than the fee though, Benjani signed a two-and-a-half year deal worth almost $75,000 a week on Deadline Day 2008. Two years and one failed loan move to Sunderland later, Benjamin joined Blackburn with a record of 4 goals from 23 games for Man City.
12. Christopher Samba to Q.P.R.
An absolute titan at the back for Blackburn Rovers for five years, Christopher Samba was at one time one of the most reliable centre-backs in the Premier League, even scoring 18 goals for the Lancashire outfit. Following a years away from the Premier League, Q.P.R. offered him a route back in, $18 million was enough to prize him away from Anzhi and the $140,000 a week contract he accepted was described as a “massive pay cut”, by then-QPR boss Harry Redknapp.
From ever-dependable to ever-calamitous, Samba looked a shadow of his former self in a failing Rangers side. They were relegated and six months into his four year deal Samba was shipped back to Russia, re-joining Anzhi.
11. Robinho to Manchester City
The signing of Robinho is a little trickier to assess than most on this list. His transfer fee of $63 million on Deadline Day 2008 was undoubtedly a massively inflated price for a player who had failed to live up to his early expectations at Real Madrid. Whilst the player was something a flop, his signing signalled Man City’s new-found wealth and proved that they could now secure the best talents on the planet, for that reason Robinho doesn’t trouble the upper reaches of this list. Having said that, Robinho lasted just 2 years, scoring 14 goals in 41 games, and was sold for only $22 million. For the fee Man City spent, Robinho is well worth his place on this list regardless of the impact made by the deal.
10. Xisco to Newcastle
Xisco joined Newcastle United on Deadline Day in 2008, in a deal worth $8 million, with the potential for that figure to rise in advance of $10 million. His time in the North East was frankly a disaster. It started brightly, a goal on his debut in a 2-1 defeat to Hull City, but went downhill from there. That would prove his first and last goal for the club, despite spending 5 years on the books at St. James’ Park. Loaned out twice and sent off for the reserves once, Xisco made a grand total of 9 appearances for Newcastle, costing them roughly $1 million a game and $9 million a goal.
9. Eric Djemba-Djemba to Aston Villa
Renowned as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signings as Manchester United manager, Eric Djemba-Djemba was also a shocking piece of Deadline Day business by Aston Villa, who eventually took the Cameroonian off the Red Devils hands in a deal worth $3 million. Whilst considerably cheaper than the price paid by Sir Alex, Djemb-Djemba still commanded a sizeable wage, and Villa got very little bang for their buck. He failed to re-ignite his career, playing 11 games in 2 years and looking just as hopeless as he had at Manchester United. He left Villa for Qatar SC in 2007.
8. Andy van der Meyde to Everton
Highly-rated in his early years, Andy van der Meyde began playing for Ajax at 18, and won 17 caps for the Netherlands between the ages of 23 and 25. However he failed to have a prolonged career at the top though, as a consequence of both his issues on and off the field. He joined Everton on Deadline Day in 2005, despite interest from Monaco and Tottenham, and whilst his fee was only $4 million, he arrived with big wage demands from Inter Milan. The talented winger had a horrific 4 years at Goodison, playing only 20 league games, with many of his problems rumoured to be fitness and alcohol related. He left on free transfer to PSV in 2010 but was as good as retired by then.
7. Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini was a Deadline Day signing by Manchester United in 2013, and the only major piece of business overseen whilst David Moyes was Manchester United manager. The Scotsman had pursued his former Everton stars Fellaini and Leighton Baines throughout the window, and on Deadline Day he managed to wrap up one of them. The deal set Manchester United back almost $40 million, a price which raised more than a few eyebrows, despite the big Belgian having been very impressive the previous season. No goals and only 16 appearances told the story of Fellaini’s debut season, and whilst 2014-15 was a little more impressive, the former Everton Young Player of the Season has done very little to justify such an extortionate price tag.
6. Michael Owen to Newcastle
The only Englishman to have won the Ballon d’Or in the last quarter of a century, Michael Owen was undoubtedly a wonderful player at one time. When he first really announced himself to the world, most notably at the 1998 World Cup, he had devastating speed, super feet and an eye for goal. Injuries would prevent Owen from becoming a real great of the game, and they also prevented him from becoming a good signing for Newcastle United.
A Deadline Day signing from Real Madrid for a club record fee of $30 million, Owen’s time in the North East, like so much of his career, was plagued by injury. He scored 26 goals in 71 league games during his 4 years at Newcastle, which culminated in Owen leaving under a cloud for Manchester United, a move which upset Newcastle and Liverpool fans alike.
5. Kostas Mitroglou to Fulham
A record of 41 goals in 92 league games for Olympiacos in Greece was enough to convince Fulham to part with a club record fee of $17 million to secure the services of Kostas Mitroglou on Deadline Day in January 2014. With the Cottagers struggling, it was hoped Mitrogou would score the goals to fire Fulham to safety. The Greek international would do no such thing. Although talented, his lethargic style and struggles to adapt immediately to life in the Premier League saw a return of 0 goals in 3 games. Fulham were relegated and Mitroglou returned to Olympiacos on-loan. Now on-loan at Benfica, Mitroglou is still under contract at Fulham.
4. Radamel Falcao to Manchester United
The rise and fall of the man nicknamed El Tigre has been as rapid as it has been spectacular. From one of Europe’s most deadly marksman in 2013 to a hopeless flop in 2014, now in 2016, Falcao has failed to recapture the form that made him one of the most feared and best paid players in world football. Falcao surprised the footballing world when he joined newly-promoted Monaco in 2013, and after his first season, he was linked with a move elsewhere. It was eventually Manchester United who captured the Colombian’s services, paying Monaco $8.5 million to take him on-loan for the season, as well as paying his $430,000 a week wage demands in full.
The only loan deal to make this list, a total outlay of $28 million for both player and his wages for a single season, means this Deadline Day deal thoroughly deserves a mention among the worst of all-time. He scored a measly 4 goals in 29 games at Old Trafford, and has since been loaned to Chelsea, where he has an even more paltry record of 1 in 11.
3. Fernando Torres to Chelsea
The most expensive player Chelsea have ever signed and the second most expensive deal involving two Premier League teams in history, the midseason transfer of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea in January 2011 was always likely to cause a stir. The fee did seem somewhat inflated, given Torres had failed to score 20 league goals in either of the last two seasons and was not on course to do so in 2010-11 either. In his debut season at Stanford Bridge, Torres managed just 1 goals in 14 league appearances.
The Spanish World Cup winner never managed to hit double figures of league goals in four seasons at the Bridge, making him undoubtedly a shambolic Deadline Day deal, costing Chelsea $72 million and well in advance of $100 million when one factors in wage demands. Torres’ only genuine success with Chelsea came in Europe, scoring important goals in both their 2012 Champions League win and 2013 Europe League win.
2. Afonso Alves to Middlesbrough
When one assesses a transfer, it is important to take into account not only the fee involved but also the size of the club, their budget, and the relative dint it makes to that clubs coffers. For Middlesbrough in 2008, signing Afonso Alves for more than $25 million represented an enormous fee for a club of their stature and financial standing. Alves did arrive with impressive pedigree, having scored 45 goal in 39 games in Holland prior to the move. He failed to bring that form with him to the Premier League though; scoring just 4 goals in 31 games in his debut season. The following season Boro were relegated and Alves left for Al-Sadd in a deal worth around half what they had originally paid for the Brazilian.
1. Andy Carroll to Liverpool
The worst Deadline Day deal of all-time has to be Andy Carroll. Having sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Liverpool had a lot of money to spend but not a lot of time to pick an ideal replacement. They signed two players on that Deadline Day, both set record transfer fees for the club only hours apart. The first, Luis Suarez, proved to be an inspired purchase. The second, Andy Carroll, proved to be a shocking deal for the Reds. Although, it is not true to say it only appeared to with the benefit of hindsight, even at the time, most people considered the $50 million fee Liverpool paid Newcastle to acquire Carroll’s services as extortionate.
Carroll had only impressed for 6 months in the Premier League, and didn’t impress over the next six at Anfield. The powerful forward scored one goal in 12 games in his debut season and 6 goals in league 44 games over his entire time at Liverpool, working out at an average of over $8 million for every Premier League goal scored. Carroll later signed for West Ham, where he has since struggled with injuries.
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