Football can be a funny game at times. Yesterday’s heroes can become tomorrow’s villains in the blink of an eye. In the constantly changing landscape of the beautiful game, a lot can happen inside a week. Players who are established stars can fall by the wayside in a matter of days with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in their present. Here, we take a look at a few individuals who joined Premier League clubs with massive reputations but failed to deliver on their promise.
The Spanish striker was a phenomenon during his time as Liverpool’s leading striker. He used to terrorize opposition defences regularly during his time in Merseyside, scoring 81 goals and making 16 assists across all competitions as a Red. However, ambitions to win the Premier League and Champions League titles prompted him to join Chelsea in shock January transfer worth 50 million pounds in 2011. And while he did enjoy a Champions League and an FA Cup success, his time with the Blues was underwhelming, to put it mildly. A shadow of his former self with Chelsea, Torres frequently missed gilt-edged chances and finished his career in west London with 45 goals in 172 appearances.
Torres leaving for Chelsea forced Liverpool to replace him with Andy Carroll in a deal worth 35 million pounds. Carroll, though, never really managed to settle at the Merseyside outfit and struggled to rediscover the form that he had shown while at Newcastle United. The towering target man wasn’t helped by injuries either, which disrupted him from ever getting a proper run of games. In the end, Carroll managed to score just six goals in 44 league games, which was enough to convince Liverpool to cut their loses and sell him to West Ham United for 15 million pounds in the summer of 2013.
Angel Di Maria
Fresh off the back of a UEFA Champions League winning campaign with Real Madrid, Angel Di Maria was one of the most sought-after players in Europe in the summer of 2014. The Man of the Match in Champions League final was transfer-listed by Los Blancos despite his heroics and Manchester United swooped in to secure his services in a deal worth 59.7 million pounds. Di Maria began life well in the Premier League but soon began to struggle and unsettling off-field distractions only made things worse. Desperate to leave United in the following summer after losing his first-team spot, the Argentine left Old Trafford for Paris Saint-Germain after notching three goals and 10 assists in the Premier League in his only season with United.
Alvaro Morata joined Chelsea in a deal worth 60 million pounds in 2017 and it initially looked like money well-spent thanks to his good start to life at Stamford Bridge. He even scored a hat-trick for the Blues in a resounding 4-0 win over Stoke City, but the ultra-competitive nature of the Premier League soon began to catch up with the Spaniard. Things began to fall apart for him because of a combination of injuries and his failure to finish off relatively easy chances. After being dropped from the team and seeing his game time reduced, Morata joined Atletico Madrid in 2019 having netted 16 goals and provided six assists in the Premier League for Chelsea.
Chelsea’s biggest flop till date, though, is still on their books and is occupying the unforgiving position of being their first-choice goalkeeper. Kepa Arrizabalaga joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in a deal worth 71.6 million pounds – a record price for a goalkeeper. Perhaps the price tag has weighed heavily on the Spaniard as he’s endured an extremely difficult spell at west London filled with goalkeeping errors and an inability to save shots. He made more errors and saved fewer shots than any other first-choice goalkeeper in the Premier League last season. The new campaign has already seen him making two mistakes in the two first two gameweeks and with his confidence now looking completely shattered, it’s difficult to see how he turns things around in England.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Andrew Yates