The English Premier League has been home to special and historic talent over the years. Tottenham Hotspur supporters may still have nightmares that involve Thierry Henry scoring memorable goals. Cristiano Ronaldo will more so be remembered for the successes that he has enjoyed as a part of Real Madrid, but he also left a lasting impact at Manchester United. The possibility still exists that Ronaldo could have one more stint at United left in him. Frank Lampard is a Chelsea legend, even if his time with Manchester City may have left a sour taste in the mouths of some Premier League fans.
Not every signing who links up with a Premier League side is going to be a gem. Some are simply not prepared for what it means to be able to hang in the England top-flight. Others who are not natives of the country find that making the change to the Premier League is more difficult than they first imagined. There are also the cases of players who simply did not work out for their Premier League teams for one reason or another, even though they were thoroughly committed to the cause. Dedication alone is sometimes not enough to push a player to a certain level.
All of the clubs in the Premier League have been responsible for strikers who have been flops. One who checks in on the list of the worst strikers in the history of each Premier League team had found success at a different side before he became more so known for some woeful misses than he was respected for routinely hitting the back of the net. Another example of a striker who could not find his way in the Premier League is a man who was brought to London to help boost the attack of a club. He gave it his all while serving for that team, but it seemed as if the footballing fates were against him during games.
20 Mario Balotelli, Liverpool
It is hard to feel sad for Liverpool regarding the signing of Mario Balotelli back in the summer of 2014. The club knew exactly what it was getting in the enigmatic star. When it comes to talent and physical skills, Balotelli could unquestionably feature for any side in the Premier League. He just happens to be a pain for managers, so much so that it was hardly a secret that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers wanted to part ways with the player months after the striker had joined Liverpool. Balotelli may never again feature for Liverpool, which is not all that surprising.
19 Bosko Balaban, Aston Villa
Bosko Balaban was picked up by Aston Villa in 2001 for a fee of £5.46 million after a decent stint with Dinamo Zagreb. Balaban was hoped to be the missing piece for an attack that had been lacking eyes for goal. He instead proved to himself to be nothing more than part of the problem. Balaban failed to find form and fitness while with the Premier League outfit, and that he managed to hit the back of the 15 times while back on loan to Dinamo Zagreb was but another punch in the gut for Villa. The Daily Mail has even suggested that Balaban may be the worst striker in the history of the Premier League. Ouch.
18 Lilian Laslandes, Sunderland
Sunderland have had their fair share of striker issues in recent memory. Remember, supporters of the club, that things could – and have – been worse. Lilian Laslandes was a £3.5 million dollar signing who proved to be worth maybe a fraction of that price when all was said and done, as Laslandes failed to hit the back of the net in 12 Premier League appearances. He was, in fact, so awful that Sunderland could not even manage to find a buyer for him once the club gave up on the experiment. Sunderland had to cut ties and live with the fact that those transfer funds were gone for good.
17 Stephane Guivarc'h, Newcastle United
You may have missed the time that Stephane Guivarc'h was with Newcastle United if you blinked or if you decided to take a break from the Premier League back in 1998. Guivarc'h scored against Liverpool in his Newcastle debut, which should, on paper, have been a start to what could have been a promising run with the club. New Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit had not been responsible for signing the Frechman, however, and the striker was clearly not in Gullit's plans. Guivarc'h was sold to Rangers in November of '98, ending his time with Newcastle after literally a few months.
16 Roque Santa Cruz, Manchester City
There is a solid argument to be made that you could go with Jo as being the worst striker in the history of Manchester City. We went in a different direction, instead bestowing that honor to Roque Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz had success with Blackburn Rovers, to the point that City swooped him up for a fee of £14.84 million in 2009. His handful of goals for the club was not enough for manager Roberto Mancini to want to put up with the striker, and Santa Cruz became a forgotten figure and a spectator during matches. Santa Cruz ultimately returned to Blackburn and that is where his time in the Premier League came to an end.
15 Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City
Ricky van Wolfswinkel is a player on this list who technically still has a chance to turn things around. Van Wolfswinkel is, after all, only 26-years-old. Then again, there is a reason that Norwich City has twice allowed Van Wolfswinkel to leave the club on loan deals. His start at Norwich could not have gone much better, as Van Wolfswinkel scored in his debut for the club. That would be the highlight of his first stint with the team, though, and Norwich were ultimately relegated. Van Wolfswinkel has had success while with other clubs and Norwich supporters will hope that he can bring that form back to England one day.
14 David N'Gog, Swansea City
David N'Gog had already been a disappointment for Liverpool by the time that he completed journeys to Bolton Wanderers and then to Swansea City. By the time that Swansea took a shot on N'Gog via a loan in January 2014, there was little doubt that the player lacked the quality to feature in the Premier League. That loan provided Swansea with a total of three appearances from the player. He did not score a goal in any of those games and N'Gog is now but a memory for Swansea and for the Premier League. N'Gog is no longer in the English top-flight. Don't hold your breaths waiting for him to return.
13 Nicolas Anelka, West Bromwich Albion
One of the only reasons that Nicolas Anelka does not rate as one of the worst signings in Premier League history is because West Bromwich Albion did not break the bank on the player. Anekla's most memorable moment as a West Brom striker occurred when he performed the controversial “quenelle” hand gesture, one that has been called an inverted Nazi salute, during a match. That would serve to be the beginning of the end of his time with the club. After signing with West Brom in July 2013, Anelka was shown the door by West Brom the following February. This was a regrettable signing in every way.
12 Vincent Pericard, Stoke City
Certainly a striker who was able to feature for Juventus would be able to have at least some success for a Premier League side, right? Vincent Pericard showed that is not always the case. Pericard was slowed by injuries during his time with Portsmouth and he was so lackluster that he was released by the club. Stoke City decided to give the striker a chance, signing Pericard on a free transfer. Not only was Pericard a letdown as a player for Stoke, he received a prison sentence after he was caught lying about being guilty of speeding. That was probably the most noteworthy moment of his Stoke career.
11 Roberto Soldado, Tottenham Hotspur
So much about the Roberto Soldado transfer stings for Tottenham Hotspur supporters. Spurs used around £21 million of the transfer money that the club acquired in selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid to pick up the Spanish striker. Soldado never came close to proving himself to be worth that price. Soldado missed them high. He missed them wide. He once, while celebrating after a teammate smashed a ball off of the back of the net, attempted to strike the ball past the line a second time. He hit the post; seriously. Soldado was a loyal soldier to the club who did whatever he could to attempt to locate his form, but he never found it as a Tottenham striker.
10 Amos Foyewa, AFC Bournemouth
You know that a player is particularly poor when he is not even worthy of his own Wikipedia page. Amos Foyewa joined up with AFC Bournemouth on a free transfer in the summer of 2001. It would turn out that he would be worth that exact price, as he did not contribute much to the club. Foyewa did not, per the Soccer Base website, score a single goal during his time with Bournemouth. Things got so bad that the club allowed him to leave on a free transfer in the spring of 2003 to a non-league side. Bournemouth are currently minnows in the Premier League, but here is hoping that they have bright days ahead of them in the top-flight.
9 Brett Angell, Everton
There is one positive that Brett Angell provided for Everton. He was, after a forgettable run with the club, actually sold for a profit. Sometimes, you just have to take what you can get. Angell was largely a non-factor up top for the Toffees and he netted just a single goal in 20 appearances for the club before Everton realized that better days were not in the future. One cannot help but wonder, upon examining his career, if Angell would not have been better off remaining a defender. Angell certainly was not a striker who was worthy of playing for a Premier League club.
8 Tomas Brolin, Crystal Palace
Being a professional footballer is difficult, particularly if you struggle completing cardio workouts in-between matches. Tomas Brolin showed plenty of promise early into his career and he seemed to have the goods to feature for multiple top-flight sides. Little could a club such as Crystal Palace have guessed at the time that Brolin would become an athlete who would struggle to remain fit. Some of the pictures that show Brolin in a Palace kit are humorous because of the player's size at that point of his career. If only he had been that hungry for goals; yeah, we admit we couldn't help ourselves there.
7 Ali Dia, Southampton
This one may very well be the most-entertaining tale of the bunch. Ali Dia, so the story goes, convinced Southampton boss Graeme Souness that he was the cousin of George Weah. Souness, naturally, took Dia at his word without doing any type of research. Dia was not only signed. He was thrown out onto the pitch for a legitimate match. It did not take long until Dia's lie was uncovered, largely because he was so pitiful during his appearance. Dia was quickly given his marching orders, but not before he provided us all with a moment to laugh about years later.
6 Marco Boogers, West Ham United
Do any work looking up the worst strikers to ever play in the Premier League and it will not be long until you come upon the name of Marco Boogers. Boogers will forever be remembered for committing a dangerous and possibly even despicable tackle on Gary Neville during what was Boogers' second ever appearance for West Ham United. His story took a weird turn in later years when it was reported that Boogers, who had supposedly gone “mental,” was living in a mobile home site in his native Netherlands. That rumor was later debunked. There was, however, no rumors to be had about his lack of quality while with West Ham.
5 Ade Akinbiyi, Leicester City
Strikers, even those who are regarded as world class players and the best at their position, miss sitters. It happens from time to time. Ade Akinbiyi had a nightmare performance while featuring for Leicester City against Liverpool back in 2001. Akinbiyi failed to score despite the fact that he had four golden opportunities to produce a goal for Leicester. That would be a low point for a player who had been signed to replace, of all individuals, Emile Heskey. Heskey, as you readers are probably aware, had his share of dreadful moments on the pitch.
4 Fernando Torres, Chelsea
Of course it has to be Fernando Torres for Chelsea, because it just has to be. Chelsea reportedly paid around £41 million to bring the Liverpool striker to Stamford Bridge. That has gotten Torres mentioned in pieces that showcase the worst transfers in the history of the Premier League. Torres did, to his credit, notch some impressive goals for Chelsea in European play. While in the Premier League, however, Torres was responsible for what were downright comical misses, blown opportunities that were so lackluster that it sometimes appeared as if he was trying to miss the target.
3 Francis Jeffers, Arsenal
There was a lot of hype surrounding Francis Jeffers when he arrived at Arsenal after the club reportedly paid nearly £11 million for his services. Things simply did not work out for the player, who could do little while on the field. Jeffers scored four goals in two seasons at Arsenal before the club loaned him back to Everton. That would prove to be the unofficial end of his Arsenal career. Even scouts and managers who have earned reputations for acquiring young talent can, every now and again, get one wrong.
2 Micky Quinn, Watford
It is sometimes best to sit back and allow somebody else to tell the story for you. The tale of Micky Quinn featuring for Watford is one of those times. This excerpt about Micky Quinn and his time with Watford comes from the book Who Ate All The Pies? The Life and Times of Mickey Quinn:
"Mick Quinn started four matches for the Hornets and didn't finish any of them, perhaps because Glenn Roeder feared a fatal collapse at any moment. On each occasion, it was difficult to avoid the impression that he'd been propping up the bar at the Red Lion half an hour before kickoff."
1 Mame Biram Diouf, Manchester United
We were tempted to give Ashley Young a shout-out here because of all of those alleged dives that he has committed during his career. Instead, we settled on a striker who was a major letdown for Sir Alex Ferguson. American soccer fans may remember watching Mame Biram Diouf score goals against Major League Soccer clubs and also against a version of the New York Cosmos. Things did not go so well in meaningful competition, however, as Diouf netted only a single goal for United in such games. Diouf has to be up there among some of the biggest disappointments in Premier League history.