OTP revisits some of the transfers that the country’s largest clubs would rather forget…
10. Stig Johansen
Bought by Southampton for £600,000, the striker was intended to partner Matthew Le Tissier in the Saints side, but after just six games (plus a lot of time in the reserves) he was loaned out to Bristol City, before leaving for Helsingborgs after one season. Never scored in England. As a striker.
9. Imants Bleidelis
Although Bleidelis has won more than 100 caps for Latvia, his impression on the Premier League stage was minimal to say the least. He joined for £650,000 and then played just two games in as many seasons (both as substitute), leading to rumours that he had only been bought to keep Marian Pahars company. He moved back to Latvia with Skonto Riga.
8. Gordon Watson
The £1.2million paid to Sheffield Wednesday was not an inconsiderable amount in 1995, and although Watson was always known for trying his best and giving it his all, his return of eight goals in 52 games simply wasn’t good enough, and he was consistently behind Neil Shipperley in the manager’s plans. That’s not a nice place to find yourself.
7. Ulrich Van Gobbel
Clearly an excellent name, but when paying £1.3million for a centre back in 1996 you would expect the player to have some talent. Southampton were possibly trying to find a player to partner Ken Monkou (bought three years earlier), but Van Gobbel was sold after just one season for a loss of £500,000.
6. David Hirst
When Dave Jones paid £2million to take David Hirst to the Dell in 1997 there were a few raised eyebrows. Hirst had been a talented player, but was 30 and Southampton had splashed out a club record fee. As it happens, his body went. He scored nine goals in 28 games in his first season, but then played just twice more in his career before retiring. Possibly not Hirst’s fault, but £2million not very well spent.
5. Nigel Quashie
The man is a walking relegation magnet, so why Southampton considered it a good idea to pay £2.1million for the slow central midfielder is beyond OTP. Signed in January 2005, Quashie made statements that he was certain that the club would stay up with him on board, and was promptly made club captain. Then he got injured for a month before he even made his debut, the club were relegated and he was allowed to leave six months later.
4. David Prutton
Prutton was the England under 21 captain and was destined for bright things, so Southampton had stolen a march on their rivals when they purchased the midfielder from Nottingham Forest for £2.5million. While he did have his good times for the Saints, he appears in this list for his 2004/5 season, in which he was sent off for a tackle on Robert Pires before proceeding to push an assistant referee and receive a ten-game ban, coming just when Southampton needed bodies to help avoid the drop. Southampton went down, and Prutton played just 20 more games before going on loan to Forest and then on a free to Leeds.
3. Cleber Chala
No, me neither, but that’s the award-winning research that OTP brings you. Signed alongside his fellow countryman Agustin Delgado (no peeking at the next entry), Chala cost the club £1million. For that money you may not expect miracles, but you want at least a substitute appearance. None were forthcoming, and returned to El Nacional just a season later. A nice little holiday for the guy, one expects.
2. Agustin Delgado
Delgado cost Southampton £3.5million. That’s quite a lot of money for a player who had only played in Ecuador and Mexico and had only been successful at Necaxa. He was dogged by injury (and yet remarkably declared himself fit for the 2002 World Cup), refused to learn English, and made Gordon Strachan say: “I’ve got more important things to think about [than Delgado]. I’ve got a yoghurt that’s about to expire.” He even found time to score the winner against Arsenal, his only league goal in three years.
1. Ali Dia
Almost a cheat entry because it is so obvious, you all know the story by now: 1. A claim to being George Weah’s cousin 2. Graeme Souness’ stupidity 3. Le Tissier off injured 4. Dia on, and then promptly subbed off again. The worst signing ever in English football. And he was free.
Have we missed your favourite worth Southampton signing? Let us know below.