There are several reasons a soccer player could make a worst-ever list. He could simply be a brutal performer on the pitch, but there could also be more to it. Some of the other factors could include his potential, age, previous performances, the cost of the transfer fee, the length and cost of his contract, the number of goals scored and/or the total number of games played for his team. Sometimes it’s not the player’s fault as he shouldn’t have been signed in the first place. This happens all too often in the world of soccer due to the sport’s notorious lack of proper scouting.
In fact, some players are never scouted at all and are signed by managers who have never seen them play, not even on video. In these instances, the managers are just as bad or worse than the players. When it comes to the 20 worst players in Premier League history, these are players who may have played well elsewhere during their careers, but just couldn’t cut it for some reason when playing in England’s top flight. Some of them were well known internationals while others weren’t even household names in their own household.
These 20 players didn’t last long at all in the Premier League even though most of them cost good money and were signed to lengthy contracts. Many of them were journeymen who drifted from team to team and should have never been signed by a Premier League side to begin with. Again, this goes back to the lack of a decent scouting system in soccer. There have been many poor players to choose from, but these 20 are the worst to grace the pitches of the English Premier League since its inception.
20 Bebe – Manchester United
Portugal’s Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, better known as Bebe, was one of the Premier League’s biggest busts, but it wasn’t all his fault. Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid close to 7.5 million pounds for the player without ever actually seeing him in action. Ferguson bought Bebe from Victoria de Guimaraes of Portugal’s top league when Ferguson’s former assistant manager Carlos Queiroz recommended him. Bebe ended up playing a grand total of two Premier League games with United and seven overall before they sent him out on loan year after year. He finally signed with Benfica of Portugal in 2014 and they promptly sent him out on loan.
19 Bruno Cheyrou- Liverpool
French midfielder Bruno Cheyrou was supposedly the new Zinedine Zidane when Liverpool bought him from Lille for 4.5 million pounds back in 2002. He spent the next three years on Merseyside and started just 17 Premier League games over that span. The Reds sent him out on loan after that and he eventually signed with Rennes in his homeland for the 2006-07 season. In total, Cheyrou played 31 league games with Liverpool and chipped in with a pair of goals.
18 Eric Djemba-Djemba - Manchester United
Eric Djemba Djemba was another terrible signing for Man United manager Alex Ferguson as he brought the Cameroonian midfielder to Old Trafford as a replacement for former skipper Roy Keane. Djemba Djemba appeared clueless in the Premier League even though he cost 3.5 million pounds. He played just 20 league games in 18 months for United before Aston Villa inexplicably paid 1.5 million pounds for him. Djemba Djemba left Villa in 2007 after just 11 games with the side and the 34-year-old has bounced around with eight more clubs since then in places such as Scotland, Denmark and Qatar.
17 Albert Luque- Newcastle United
Forward Albert Luque of Spain cost Newcastle United 9.5 million pounds from Deportivo La Coruna in 2005 and the club signed him to a five-year deal. Luque lasted until just 2007 when he was shipped off to Ajax of Amsterdam. He played just 21 league contests with Newcastle and managed to score just one goal. Ajax reportedly paid just two million pounds for Luque, meaning Newcastle lost 7.5 million on him and received the lone goal in return for their investment. Ajax then shipped him out after 16 appearances.
16 Marcelino Elena- Newcastle United
Marcelino Elena, the Spanish centre-back who joined Newcastle United from Mallorca in 1999 for 5.8 million pounds. He stayed until 2003 and played in just 17 league games. Elena was eventually sent down to Newcastle’s reserve squad after his numerous injury claims. However, several medical scans proved to be inconclusive when he said he was hurt. He once missed two months of action due to an injured tendon in his finger. It was obvious Elena wasn’t too committed to playing and that’s why he sat on the bench or in the stands during his time in England.
15 Ade Akinbiyi- Leicester City
Nigerian forward Ade Akinbiyi was signed by Leicester City from the Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2000 after English international striker Emile Heskey left the club. Akinbiyi proved to be a fine goalscorer in England’s lower divisions and Leicester they had a good deal when they paid 5.5 million pounds for him. He played 74 contests for City and managed to find the back of the net just 11 times. Akinbiyi was greeted with a chorus of boos every time he missed a sitter, which was more or less a few times each game. Leicester finally gave up on him when they were relegated and sold the forward for 2.2 million pounds to Crystal Palace in 2002. He didn’t last long at Palace and has played with seven different clubs since and made a grand total of three more Premier League appearances.
14 Thomas Brolin- Leeds United
Swedish midfielder Thomas Brolin was a fine footballer in his homeland and even for the Swedish national team. However, he struggled mightily once he reached the Premier League with Leeds United in 1995. Brolin and Wilkinson never got along very well from the get-go and the manager criticized the player’s poor defensive play in the media. He scored four goals in 20 league games at Leeds before he was loaned out. He eventually played 13 more league games with Crystal Palace without scoring and eventually retired from the game after packing on the pounds in 1998.
13 Bosko Balaban- Aston Villa
Striker Bosko Balaban of Croatia cost Aston Villa 5.8 million pounds when he was bought in 2001 from Dinamo Zagreb. Balaban was notorious for his lack of training effort and he didn’t really have much of a touch around the net. In fact, he was so bad, he played just nine league games for Villa and failed to get his name on the score sheet once. He was sent out on loan and eventually released from his Villa contract. Balaban had the knack for scoring everywhere else he played as he banged in 131 career club goals in 340 games, but was a flop in the Premier League.
12 Massimo Taibi- Manchester United
Italian goalkeeper Massimo Taibi joined Manchester United for a fee of 4.5 million pounds from Venezia in 1999 and was yet another one of Alex Ferguson’s brutal buys. He ended up playing a grand total of four games with United and allowed several stoppable goals during them, including five against in one match against Chelsea. Shortly after, he was loaned back to the Italian Serie A with Reggina. To his credit, Taibi was named man of the match in United’s 3-2 win over Liverpool even though he let in a howler.
11 Winston Bogarde- Chelsea
Defender Winston Bogarde of Holland had made a name for himself with teams such as Ajax of Amsterdam, Barcelona and AC Milan before Chelsea signed him in 2000. He soon found himself on the bench after the Blues changed managers shortly after he joined. Bogarde was making huge money back then at 40,000 pounds a week, and he wasn’t about to walk away from his paycheque even though Chelsea made it known they no longer wanted him. He ended up staying at Stamford Bridge for four years and played in just nine games as he was demoted to the youth and reserve teams. Bogarde retired in 2004 when his Chelsea contract expired, but he had several million pounds in the bank by then courtesy of his ridiculous deal.
10 Marco Boogers- West Ham United
Dutch strike Marco Boogers was signed by West Ham in 1995 for a million pounds from Sparta Rotterdam without manager Harry Redknapp having seen him play. Boogers had a decent scoring record in Holland, but was a shadow of himself in the Premier League. He was sent off the pitch with a straight red card in just his second game for a brutal tackle on defender Gary Neville of Manchester United and received a four-game suspension. He then found himself back in Holland after only two more appearances with the Hammers when Redknapp signed another striker while Boogers was injured.
9 Savio Nsereko- West Ham United
Forward Savio Nsereko of Uganda was one of West Ham United’s costliest signings at 9 million pounds back in January of 2009. Nobody knows why they paid so much for an Italian Serie B player, and especially one who had managed just three goals for his team. He was also signed to a 4.5-year contract for some odd reason. Nsereko started just one league game with the Hammers and appeared in 10 with no goals to his name. He was then sold at a huge loss for 2.7 million euros to Fiorentina. The 29-year-old is now in Bulgaria with his ninth team since then and has scored just one goal in the last six years.
8 Ahmed Fathi- Sheffield United
Egyptian defender/midfielder Ahmed Fathi played with Sheffield United in the 2006/07 campaign after joining the side in January 2007 from Egypt. United was trying to stave off relegation and signed him to a three year deal. Fathy appeared in just three Premier League games and found himself back in his homeland just a few months later after he was released. He’s still playing there now at the age of 30 and has made over 100 appearances for the Egyptian national squad.
7 Corrado Grabbi- Blackburn Rovers
Striker Corrado Grabbi signed with the Blackburn Rovers back in 2001 and at the time was the club’s most expensive signing ever at £6.75 million pounds. Grabbi of Italy had been playing in his homeland with Ternana, which was already his seventh club. It was reported that Grabbi was didn’t get along with his teammates and was unhappy with the English lifestyle. He played a total of 30 matches with the Rovers in three years and contributed with just a pair of goals. Grabbi ended up back in Italy where he played with another four teams.
6 Xisco- Newcastle United
Xisco was a Spanish striker and former Under 21 international who joined Newcastle United from Deportivo La Coruna for 7 million pounds in 2008. He was so bad he soon found himself as number seven in the club’s pecking order when it came to forwards. Newcastle tried to unload him shortly after he joined, but had no luck. This was mainly because of FIFA’s rule which forbade a player from playing with three teams in the same year. Newcastle was relegated in 2009 and stuck with him for five years. Xisco appeared in just nine league games in that time while he was sent out on loan the rest of the time. He did manage to get his name in the Newcastle record book as he scored one goal before heading back to Spain.
5 Per Kroldrup- Everton
Everton paid five million pounds for Danish defender Per Kroldrup from Udinese in Italy and his first six months with the team were spent in the infirmary as he was injured. When he was finally healthy enough to play Kroldrup played 90 minutes for the Toffees at centre-back. He had a brutal game as the Merseysiders were beaten 4-0 and never played again for the side even though he had signed for four years. Kroldrup was then sold to Fiorentina of Italy. Kroldrup wasn’t a complete flop though as he played 33 times for Denmark during his career.
4 Roque Junior-Leeds United
Defender Roque Junior had won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and was signed on loan by Leeds United in 2003 from Milan of Italy. His Premier League career lasted just seven games as Leeds soon found out he didn’t know how to defend. With Roque Junior in the lineup at centre-back Leeds allowed 24 goals against in those seven contests and ended up being relegated at the end of the campaign. In addition, was sent off in his first game with Leeds. He was soon gone and drifted around with six other teams after leaving Leeds. He did manage to play 48 times for Brazil though.
3 Andrea Silenzi-Nottingham Forest
Andrea Silenzi will go down in history for two things. He was the first-ever Italian to play in the English Premier League when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1995 and he was one of the worst players to represent the league. Silenzi had a decent scoring record in Italy where he had already played with five different teams and Forest thought they’d take a gamble on him. And a gamble it was. He played a dozen matches with Forest without finding the net and manager Dave Bassett reportedly tore the player’s contract up. His time in the Premier League somehow affected his confidence as Silenzi scored just nine more league goals during the rest of his career with four more clubs.
2 Ali Dia- Southampton
Rumour has it that Ali Dia’s buddy called Southampton and pretended he was soccer star George Weah. The friend recommended Senegalese striker Dia, who he said was his cousin, and advised the Premier League side to sign him. Dia headed to Southampton to train with the team and was brought on as a sub against Leeds. He was so appalling and was pulled off the pitch after just 53 minutes. Dia had signed a month-long contract with the club and was released after 14 days. You may recognize Dia’s name since it has been featured on numerous worst-player lists around the world.
1 Amaury Bischoff- Arsenal
Portuguese midfielder Amaury Bischoff was signed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in 2008 from German side Werder Bremen. The injury-prone player’s Premier League career lasted all of 26 minutes when he came on as a substitute in his one and only game. He was released shortly after and headed back to Portugal. The 28-year-old is currently playing in the third tier of German football with a club named Preußen Münster.