La Liga has been the strongest league in Europe for the last five seasons according to UEFA's coefficients. This rating is based upon the performance of the top Spanish teams in European competitions. La Liga boasts arguably the two greatest teams in world soccer right now, and arguably the two greatest in the history of the game, in the form of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As such, it is unsurprising that some of the stars of the world game choose to ply their trade in Spain and in La Liga.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Neymar and Luis Suarez, arguably the five best players in the world right now, all play in La Liga. Despite the wealth of truly world class talent which has blessed the division since its inception back in 1929, there have also been some decidedly less impressive players. For every Cristiano Ronaldo there is a Royston Drenthe, and this list celebrates the truly terrible players of La Liga's past.
There are a few familiar faces and a few lesser known individuals. Some had very good careers outside of Spain and for whatever reason it just didn't work out for them in the country, whilst others were just simply not good enough and it showed. Furthermore, it took only a couple of games to spot the inadequacies of some, whilst others brought misery to the fans of their clubs for years. Here are the top 20 worst players in La Liga history.
20 Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate was, at one time, a fine center-half and I feel aggrieved to place him in any 'worst' list, hence why he is in 20th, but even I cannot deny that his time at Real Madrid was disastrous. He scored an own goal before being sent off on his debut, in what many regard as the worst debut in history, and that dire start rather set the tone for the Englishman. His time at Real was blighted by injuries, preventing him from ever really showing what he was capable of in the Spanish capital.
19 Ben Sahar
Ben Sahar was at one time described as Israel's hottest prospect, as he rose through the ranks at Chelsea. However, like most promising youngsters at Chelsea, he was never really given a chance at the club. He played three times for the first team, before heading to Espanyol where he anticipated regular playing time and the opportunity to showcase his skills. Sahar is supposed to be a pacey and tricky striker, but at Espanyol he appeared to have very little movement or understanding of the game.
18 Emilio Nsue
17 Angel Dealbert
Denilson certainly falls under the category of very talented players who simply didn't show it in Spain's top flight. The World Cup winner became the most expensive player in the world in 1998 when he joined Real Betis for a fee in the region of $40 million. Whilst his compatriots Ronaldo and Ronaldinho became La Liga legends with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, Denilson failed to transform Betis into the Spanish superpower they had wished to become, following their considerable outlay.
15 Borja Gomez Perez
Borja Gomez Perez's time in La Liga was brief, and despite being only 27, one would be surprised if he ever got another chance in Spain's premier football league. The Spanish defender played for Rayo Vallecano is the Spanish second tier before heading to Ukraine, but he returned to Spain for his first taste of La Liga football in 2012. Perez jumped at the opportunity, but in his first few games for Granada it was clear that Perez was simply not cut out to play against world class forwards.
14 Julien Faubert
13 Jose Manuel Pinto
Jose Manuel Pinto, or simply 'Pinto', as he is better known to you and I, has won four La Liga titles and two Champions League titles, as well as an array of other trophies of which he played virtually no part in winning. In much the same respect as Anderson has Premier League and Champions League titles without contributing almost anything, so too does Pinto.
12 Inigo Lopez Montana
11 Shunsuke Nakamura
10 Jozy Altidore
9 Jermaine Pennant
The second Englishman to make this list, Jermaine Pennant swapped the Premier League for La Liga in 2009, in an attempt to rescue his career. The uncapped England international has played for both Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League, but had a number of run-ins with the law for domestic and driving offences, among others, and needed a positive spell in Spain to give some life to his stuttering career. Instead, he had probably the most miserable spell of his career.
8 Thomas Gravesen
Thomas Gravesen played as a combative midfielder at Everton, where he played over 150 games for the Toffees. He looked a very capable midfielder for the Merseyside club, but there was still shock when Madrid came calling in 2005 and took the Danish international to the Bernabeu. Real deployed Graveson as a holding midfielder, a new position for him, but he started brightly in his first few games.
7 Jose Suarez Japan
Real Betis are a team with a mixed past, at their best they have won titles, at their worst, they have been perhaps the worst team to grace the Spanish top flight. The best example of this is their La Liga title win in 1935, which was followed up by an appalling season in 1942/43, when the team were relegated with only two wins and only 10 points. This Betis team fell apart that season, despite still having a number of talented players, but one man who you couldn't say that about was Jose Suarez Japan.
6 Roberto Trotta
5 Alexander Hleb
Barcelona have signed a number of players from Arsenal in recent years, with Thomas Vermaelen recently joining the likes of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Marc Overmars but none have failed as spectacularly as Alexander Hleb. The Belarus international is a tidy and clever player, but not quite up to the standard one would expect of a Barcelona attacking midfielder or winger. Hleb had to compete with the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Yaya Toure for his place in the team, and to put it kindly, he struggled.
4 Angel Trujillo
Angel Trujillo has the impressive feat of having scored a goal against Barcelona, which is his only goal in professional football, and it came last year, with Trujillo aged 26. If there is one position where Spain have struggled to produce world class talent in recent years it is central defense, and it should come as no surprise that there are a few on this list. Trujillo has been with Almeria since 2007, but was only deemed good enough to play for the B team, up until 2012, when he made his debut for the main team. At 24, the defender was quite old for a debutant, and he has struggled in Spain's top flight.
3 Royston Drenthe
Royston Drenthe joined Real Madrid as a very highly-rated winger, he left regarded by many as the worst player to ever play for the club. Drenthe began his career at Feyenoord, one of the great production lines for footballers in the world, and made a name for himself after scoring a hat-trick against the great Ajax academy in 2005. His hard work was rewarded, as he was given his debut that year, aged 18. In 2007, Drenthe was named as the player of the tournament as the Netherlands lifted the U21 European Championships, and a $16 million bid from Real Madrid followed.
2 Iago Bouzon
1 Benjamin Telechea
You could be forgiven for not knowing who Benjamin Telechea is, but you will do well to find a worse La Liga player than him. The Spanish defender spent only a single season in the Spanish top flight, the 1950/51 campaign, and it was eventful to say the least. It was not only his but also his team, UE Lleida, first in the top flight, and it made Cordoba's performance last season look impressive. The minnows lost 23 of their 30 games, conceding an incredible 134 goals in those 30 games.
That means they conceded, on average, around 4.5 goals a game. Telechea featured in 25 of those 30 games and was noted for his calamitous displays, and despite scoring twice from the back, he was responsible for conceding a very many more than that. Lleida were sent crashing down and they didn't return to La Liga until 1994.
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