The worst Premier League signings in history – club by club

Posted by - February 23, 2011 - Lists, Premier League

And now it’s statistical

The debates over the worst Premier League signings are as old as the league itself. One of the reasons that it has been difficult to gauge is that obviously the cost of players has increased from 1992 to today. However, in their book “Pay as you play” Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley and Gary Fulcher have used inflation to create the Current Transfer Purchase Price (CTPP), where all transfers in Premier League history can be viewed by today’s prices.

In celebration of this (and worryingly enough this does get me excited!) OTP chooses the worst signing for each club in the Premier League. Prices are displayed first in original price, and then as they would be today.

Arsenal – Francis Jeffers – £10million – £13.1million
Arsene Wenger is a genius, and has transformed Arsenal, bringing through exceptional foreign talent. He has also, however, signed some absolute rotters. Richard Wright and Jose Antonio Reyes failed to deliver, but it was Franny Jeffers who was the standout mistake.

Dubbed with the ‘fox in the box’ tag, Jeffers soon went about turning that animal to sloth. Jeffers started just two out of 114 games at Arsenal and only ever scored four goals. A disgusting waste of funds, is it any surprise that Wenger now chooses to seek out signings from foreign climes?

Aston Villa – Sasa Curcic – £4million – £10.6million
Aston Villa should probably just stay away from Eastern Europe, and Milan Baros and Bosko Balaban could easily have featured. Curcic played just 22 league games for Villa and was paid twelve grand a week for the pleasure. Just five months after he signed, Curcic declared that he wished to be placed on the transfer list and that the move was “the worst decision of his life”. He criticised manager Brian Little, partied too hard and was eventually sold to Crystal Palace for £1million.

Birmingham City – Luciano Figueroa – £2.5million – £5.1million
Signed from Argentine side Rosario Central in 2003, Figueroa was easily the most disappointing of Steve Bruce’s signings at Birmingham. Indeed, the Argentine failed to make a single start for the club, and his contract was cancelled at the end of one season, with just one substitute appearance under his belt.

Although clearly Figueroa did not adapt, over fifty appearances for Villareal later in his career hints that he did at least have the talent to succeed.

Blackburn Rovers – Paul Warhurst – £2.65mllion – £15.8million
£2.65million might not seem that much, but it certainly was in 1993. And it certainly was on Paul Warhurst, And it certainly was for him to only score four league goals. A signing from Sheffield Wednesday, Warhurst started just 30 of 160 Premier League games for which he was available.

Played so badly up front that he was eventually converted to a centre back!

Blackpool – Chris Basham – £1.2million – £1.2million
Harsh on Blackpool and Basham as the club have only been buying players in the Premier League for two windows and Basham wasn’t particularly expensive.

However, needs must and £1.2million is a lot for a club like Blackpool. Basham has made just one start for the club, in the League Cup, and has had 30 minutes of Premier League action.

Not exactly value for money as yet.

Bolton Wanderers – Dean Holdsworth – £3.5million – £11.8million
To be fair to Bolton, rather then spaff money on poor foreign talent they generally look to get players on free transfers or cheap deals. However, Dean Holdsworth is the sort of journeyman striker that upwards of £3million should never be spent, especially back in 1997.

Although he did score at a half decent rate (39 league goals in 158 games) at the Trotters, he should not have been Bolton’s record signing, and was not included in the starting line up enough to justify that fee.

Chelsea – Andrei Shevchenko – £30.9million – £53.5million
Juan Sebastian Veron, you have gotten away with it sir. A starting rate of 13% and you are still not persona non grata. Adrian Mutu, you are a lucky boy too. And that is solely because of one of the greatest strikers of the modern era.

Shevi just did not adapt. He cost an astronomical amount. He came with a record that was almost unsurpassed at the time. And he disappointed almost beyond belief. He scored less than ten league goals in all of his time at Chelsea, and the allowance of such an expensive player to leave on loan says it all really.

Amazingly, Shevchenko remained at Chelsea until August 2009, when he returned to first club Dynamo Kyiv.

Everton – Per Kroldrup – £5million – £9.1million
Per Kroldrup is a transfer that David Moyes and most Everton fans would rather forget. Signed from Udinese in 2005, Kroldrup started only one league game before he left to join Fiorentina in 2006.

Hopefully Kroldrup was a better player in Italy than he was in England, because he did nothing here.

Fulham – Steve Marlet – £13.5million – £17.7million
Some signings are awful because they did not play many games, some because they didn’t score enough goals. In the case of Steve Marlet, it was because just too much money was spent on them.

Scored eleven goals at a goal every five games, but by then he had played so poorly that he was loaned to Marseille for 18 months with Fulham still paying his wages. Indeed, chairman Al-Fayed tried to take then manager Jean Tigana to court for overpaying for Marlet.

Liverpool – Alberto Aquilani – £20million – £20million
Italian players often struggle to adapt in the English league, and Aquilani is a prime example of this rule. When he joined Liverpool he refuted claims that he was to be a replacement for Xabi Alonso, and he was right. Alonso was decent.

Aquilani scored two goals in his time at Liverpool, and has now been allowed to join Juventus on a season long loan deal. Although he could be seen as unlucky with injuries during his time at Anfield, it is also just as possible to say that he was simply not up to scratch.

Second half tomorrow

  • Jimbo

    How are those price rises calculated? Shevchenko, signed in 2006, has had a price rise of 73%, but Marlet, signed in 2001, has only had a 31% price rise. That doesn’t really make any sense to me.

  • Jimbo

    How are those price rises calculated? Shevchenko, signed in 2006, has had a price rise of 73%, but Marlet, signed in 2001, has only had a 31% price rise. That doesn’t really make any sense to me.

  • Boohoo

    You’ve got it arse about face on Paul Warhurst. He WAS a centre back. Around 1992 Sheff Wed had a lot of injuries – remember poor David Hirst? – and Warhurst was pressed into service as a makeshift striker. He did very well, so much so that when he moved on to Blackburn they continued with the striker experiment. But it was a different team playing a different style and soon they put him back in defence; would you really have wanted him keeping Shearer or Sutton out of the side?

  • Daniel Storey

    Its a fascinating book to read and i advise it, but essentially the calculations are based on inflation and the amount of money being spent on players at the time.

    Although that is a massively stilted explanation!

  • Daniel Storey

    Its a fascinating book to read and i advise it, but essentially the calculations are based on inflation and the amount of money being spent on players at the time.

    Although that is a massively stilted explanation!

  • Stu

    Not sure how you can count Chris Basham as Blackpools worse signing, considering he’s been out injured for the majority of the premiership season :/

  • Daniel Storey

    Well Stu, as Blackpool are in the PL I have to choose one of their signings. So who else would you choose?

    I know he has been injured, but he is the only realistic choice

  • fourteen

    Warhurst started out as a Centre-back. He was used as an emergancy striker by Wednesday and left because we wouldn’t play him there full-time, a decision vindicated by his record for Rovers.
    In short we will not be considering you for researcher of the year