And…breathe. Big Ben has struck, Jim White has slipped off his yellow tie and Wesley Sneijder still hasn’t moved to Manchester United. The madness of the transfer window has subsided for a few months and football fans can return to being glued to the television screen rather than Twitter. The new Premier League TV deal has brought on a record breaking year for transfers, but with clubs regularly overspending comes the likelihood of some expensive, even record breaking, flops. We here at FLIP Insider have taken a look back through the years to list the 5 biggest transfer deadline day flops, and speculate who could be joining the list from this season.
- Andre Santos
Brazilians have had the pleasure of watching some of the finest full backs in modern footballing history. Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Marcelo, Dani Alves, Maicon…Santos. The Brazilian arrived at Arsenal after two years at Fenerbahce, scoring 10 goals in his mixed role as winger and full back. Signed for a paltry £5m, with a perplexing 24 Brazilian caps, no one could have predicted how poor Santos would turn out to be. A failed winger who didn’t quite understand his need role at left back, Santos was repeatedly found the wrong side of the ball without the fitness or pace to recover. Though signed as cover for Kieran Gibbs, Gibbs’ spotty injury record saw Santos on the pitch far too much for comfort. Mediocre performances followed in Brazil after several cries for Wenger to clear the ‘deadwood’, and now Santos plies his trade for Indian Super League side FC Goa.
- Christopher Samba
Hanging out of his car window, Harry Redknapp must have been sure he’d performed a coup in signing Samba from former oil-rich Anzhi Makhachkala. The Congolese centre back was once the solution to Arsenal’s defensive woes, and with QPR languishing in the relegation zone, defensive solidity was a must if they had any chance of survival. However, once Samba arrived he declared himself only “40% fit”, going on to make just 10 appearances for QPR as they slipped down into the Championship. Between his £12m fee and £100,000 a week wages, we estimate that Samba cost Tony Fernandes over £1.5 million per appearance.
- Paul Konchesky
Roy Hodgson, then Liverpool Manager, brought over Konchesky from Fulham after the pair’s impressive Europa League run in 2010. At the time, even an optimistic follower of the player would have said he played second fiddle to Brede Hangeland in the Fulham back four, and at most would become adequate at a larger club like Liverpool. However, Roy Hodgson had different ideas, stating Konchesky was “one of the very best left-backs in the league and certainly deserving of a place in the England set-up.” Quickly becoming one of many objects of derision in Hodgson’s Liverpool squad, Konchesky was swiftly loaned to Nottingham Forest and at 34 has found himself a cosy spot on the Leicester City bench, proudly holding his 2 England caps.
Robinho’s signing for Manchetser City from Real Madrid was a statement of intent from the newly endowed club. However – instead of stating Manchester City would become a top calibre football club (a statement that further signings undoubtedly did make), the prevailing thought upon signing Robinho was that City were willing to vastly overpay for mediocre strikers. Costing a whopping £32.5m in 2008, one of the first signings of the Sheikh Mansour era, the Brazilian scored on his debut against Chelsea (the club he thought he was signing for) in a strong first season. However, performances after the first few months proved Robinho an inconsistent and frustrating player that was more Jo than Aguero. Similarly disappointing spells at Santos and Milan followed, and the Brazilian, who has 100 caps for his nation, now plays for Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande.
- Fernando Torres
The only thing saving Andy Carroll from this list is that he was part of a deal where an even more expensive flop could take the headlines. A World Cup and European Championship winner, Torres was never quite able to shake off the injuries that hampered him in his final days at Liverpool. Costing a then British record £50m, the back pages produced countless cries that his form had returned, only for another streak of comical misses and dry runs to follow. Despite such a torrid time, his first season saw an FA Cup and Champions League medal added to his trophy case (more than he ever won at Liverpool). Coming in at a cost of £1.2m a goal, sky high prices and expectations combined to provide one of the greatest flops in recent memory.
So who will join this list? Anthony Martial is only 19, but with a £36m fee and only 11 Ligue 1 goals to his name, the youngster has been thrown into the deep end in front of a very demanding crowd. With the label ‘most expensive teenager ever’, many will be waiting for any chance to jump on his back and compare him to the world’s finest players. The pressure of such titles and expectations may well prove too much for a player who Manchester United undoubtedly overpaid for. Michael Hector’s move from Reading to Chelsea looks a very strange move, as the Championship centre back is already 23, and was immediately loaned back to Reading. Elsewhere, we feel bullets have been dodged with Emmanuel Adebayor’s lack of divine intervention and the words “£8m Steven Naismith” never materialising into hard cash. So despite being the largest signing and story of deadline day, Anthony Martial could well be a player topping this list in years to come.