BREAKING: The Ten Worst Premier League Signings Of The Season Cost About £330m And Have Been Disastrous

Chelsea feature prominently in a list of the worst Premier League signings of the season but that top three feels untouchable. Arsenal get a sort of mention….CONTINUE READING

10) Lesley Ugochukwu (Chelsea)
It is important to factor injuries into account, with Ugochukwu having been almost completely sidelined with a hamstring problem since December. But even long before that, the tone was set by Mauricio Pochettino calling the young midfielder “a player that is from France that maybe they are signing with the idea to send on some loan”.

Ugochukwu was subsequently said to have sufficiently impressed the manager, forcing his way into the first-team picture. But his three Premier League starts delivered a goalless draw against Bournemouth, heavy defeat at Newcastle and a chastening loss to Wolves. Thierry Henry did not sound happy with Chelsea over his sparse use before the injury and it is easy to forget the Blues spent £23m for the most spare of parts.

9) Hamed Traore (Bournemouth)
Bournemouth spent a similar amount to make last January’s loan move for Traore permanent in May. It was quite impressive that, as the Cherries themselves put it, ‘conditions within the original loan agreement have been reached’ to hand Sassuolo £21m to keep the Ivorian, considering he failed to either score or assist a goal in seven appearances before missing the end of last season with an injury.

Traore had long since recovered by the start of this campaign, which he spent either on the bench or out of the squad entirely. Across three substitute Premier League appearances he played 44 minutes – all in two-goal defeats – while enjoying some Carabao minutes and scoring against Swansea.

Once Bournemouth’s participation in that tournament was curtailed by eventual winners Liverpool, Traore was deemed surplus to requirements and found himself packing the essentials to head to Napoli to play Barcelona in a Champions League knockout game at the Nou Camp. He is yet to score or assist a goal in Italy.

8) Rob Holding (Crystal Palace)
It seemed bizarre that Arsenal could only extract £2m for an established Premier League centre-half in his mid-20s last summer, even if whatever reputation Holding carried was tarnished by his final run coinciding somewhat with a slight title bottling. The centre-half left with the Gunners’ best wishes and any essence of William Saliba he could find in the changing room.

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Having left for more regular opportunities, Holding would not have wanted to be stressing that “you have to be ready for the moments when you get chances” in October. He is still to make his Premier League debut for Palace, but did at least play for them in the League Cup: a 3-0 defeat to Man Utd in which he was booked for clattering Anthony Martial.

7) Ryan Giles (Luton Town)
Luton broke their transfer record three times in their first summer as a Premier League club. Mads Andersen has struggled with injury since, Tahith Chong has scored against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Spurs and Giles has found himself back in another Championship promotion race.

The wing-back started the first three games of the season but only two more thereafter, eventually losing out to another wide creative outlet in Alfie Doughty. Giles has played almost twice as many minutes in the Championship as he has in the Premier League, owing to his loan switch to Hull in January.

6) Moises Caicedo (Chelsea)
There has been an improvement in recent weeks and in truth the floor for Caicedo at Chelsea has never been low. But nor has he been the £115m panacea most perhaps unfairly expected to solve those midfield problems.

Caicedo has been pulled down to a certain level rather than the future British record signing dragging his team up. That is no crime in a team as broken as Chelsea but this is a case where the fee demands to be judged instead of the player. And the midfielder Brighton sold for three times less last summer looks about ten times better.

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5) Matheus Nunes (Manchester City)
In one of his greatest head-patting pieces of praise for a team Manchester City had just thrashed, it was Pep Guardiola who called Nunes “one of the best players in the world today” after Sporting were hammered 5-0 at home in February 2022.

About 18 months later, the manager admitted he perhaps “over-exaggerated a little bit”. Guardiola called him “an exceptional player” but the back-track betrayed his true feelings of someone stumbling through The First Pep Season.

Nunes has fared better than some adjusting to the necessary micro-managed reprogramming, but is yet to score and has started 13 games. It is a futile exercise to cite the fees Manchester City pay and can quite comfortably write off through transfer cheat codes, but £53m for a deeply ordinary player represents poor business thus far.

4) Ibrahim Sangare (Nottingham Forest)
There is a fundamental rift in the Nottingham Forest fanbase as the civil war between Sangare supporters and sceptics rages on. Some feel the midfielder has shown enough promising glimpses in a disrupted season to suggest he can eventually adapt, while others believe paying PSV £30m to remove him from a Champions League season should have guaranteed some degree of consistent competence.

Then there is Evangelos Marinakis, who probably thinks the whole thing is a conspiracy which only Mark Clattenburg can uncover.

It has been a miserable old time either way for Sangare, who has been subbed at half-time in two of his unlucky 13 starts – by two different managers – and who has still won as many Eredivisie games as Premier League games this season. He has also played two Eredivisie games.

3) James Trafford (Burnley)
It does not feel as though Manchester City will be rushing to activate the £42m buy-back clause they inserted into the deal which saw Trafford join newly-promoted Burnley in the summer. The goalkeeper’s stock was at its highest then after a flawless U21 Euros and it was felt by many that a first Premier League season, guided by the prodigious coaching of Vincent Kompany, would only continue that inexorable rise.

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The opposite has come to pass; Trafford has been dropped for the player most felt had earned his top-flight chance by helping inspire promotion while he impressed in League One. In the two games since Aro Muric has recovered the gloves, Burnley have won one and drawn the other to reinvigorate their survival hopes.

Trafford should still come good and the experience ought to act in his favour long-term, exposing him to the unique pressure and pace of the top flight. But the mistakes have been numerous and Burnley’s most expensive signing of a mixed summer was one they never really had to make in the first place.

2) Kalvin Phillips (West Ham United)
It is difficult to envisage a timeline in which things could have gone much worse. Phillips assisted an opposition goal on his West Ham debut, gave the ball away in the build-up to an opposition goal in his second game, was substituted on at half-time of a 6-0 defeat in his third, sent off in his fourth, finally won in his fifth (as a late substitute), was taken off at half-time in his sixth and gave away a penalty in his seventh, after which he swore at a fan.

It was assumed that Phillips had to escape Manchester City to rescue his career; he would have been better off putting up with a little more Guardiola snide while scrutinising tapes of Rodri and spooning a cardboard cut-out of Marcelo Bielsa.

1) Sandro Tonali (Newcastle United)
That debut against Aston Villa feels like a long time ago. Within a month of that, Eddie Howe was lecturing about the dangers of judging the effectiveness of signings too soon. A few later came a betting ban which will be served at least into late August by a player some suspect never wanted to join Newcastle in the first place.

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