Every season in the Premier League, there is always someone who flatters to deceive one too many scouts and ends up becoming the league’s biggest flop. From Shevchenko to Benteke, the Premier League has shown itself to be one of the toughest competitions for those who aren’t the most prolific, with time and patience rarely a luxury afforded to those coming in with a big transfer fee looming over their head.
The story of high profile, big money flops in the Premier League begins with Francis Jeffers signing for Arsenal from Everton for £8M in 2002. The transfer was one of the most high profile and expensive signings for an Englishman at the time, with many Arsenal fans salivating at the thought of this ‘fox in the box’ linking up with the likes of Henry and Bergkamp. The reality was that Arsenal had just signed one of the most injury prone players in the league, with Jeffers badly missing form when he was able to make it onto the pitch. 22 appearances in three years is telling of his time, with just 4 goals coming in that time.
We move from a promising, traditional English striker in Francis Jeffers, to an established European giant in Andriy Shevchenko, signing for Chelsea in 2006. With Shevchenko, the price tag was certainly sizeable for the time (£30.8M), but the disappointment with him came from the huge weight of expectation he brought with him. One of the most potent finishers in all of Europe for several years, the whole world was waiting to see a clinical man doing his thing and leading Chelsea to a whole host of trophies. 48 appearances in two seasons, 9 goals and a whole host of disappointing performances makes Shevchenko one of the Premier League’s biggest flops.
For our next flop, we move from West London to Merseyside to look at one particular ponytailed striker. Andy Carroll was one of England’s brightest talents when he moved from Newcastle to Liverpool in 2010 for a huge fee of £35M on the same evening as a certain Fernando Torres left for Chelsea. Becoming the most expensive British player in all of history at the time, Carroll has been sandwiched inbetween the successful stints of Torres and Luis Suarez at Liverpool, which certainly puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to how he’s remembered at Anfield. Once again, injuries, loss of form and playing in a team that simply wasn’t tailored for a tall target man cost Carroll dearly and he was shipped out to West Ham for a heavy loss of 20M in 2012, with just 6 goals in 44 games.
However, these are all rookie numbers when stacked up next to the biggest flop probably in Premier League history. Manchester United decimated their entire wage structure when they bought a 29 year old Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford in January 2018 from Arsenal. Inheriting one of, if not the, best player in the entire league over the previous few seasons, it’s hard to even pinpoint what’s happened to the Chilean since he arrived at United. Unfancied by both Mourinho and Solskjær, Sanchez is costing a club that he actually rarely plays for £500,000 a week. What’s more, the breaking of United’s wage structure by Sanchez has directly put them at a disadvantage when it comes to holding onto key players in key contract talks such as Ander Herrera and his eventual move to PSG. 45 appearances and 5 goals is no where near the levels someone like Alexis needs to be hitting to justify the amounts he’s earning.