20 worst Premier League signings of the 2014/15 season
The season is almost over and it is time to rank the worst signings of the season in terms of value for money. But who is the No 1, the top of the flops?
20 - Mauro Zarate (West Ham United and QPR) Free
Superb form for Velez Sarsfield in 2014 after going off the boil at Lazio and Inter persuaded West Ham to take the plunge on the skilful forward. He began with two goals in seven appearances for the Hammers but wanted more time on the field so moved to QPR on loan in January. Almost as soon as he signed Rangers began airing their concerns about a lack of fitness and motivation and tried to cancel the loan but they were contractually bound so Zarate himself, whose career in Serie A fizzled out when he exasperated his team-mates with his growing selfishness, took matters into his own hands, walking out and stropping off home when he failed to make the 18 for the match against Liverpool at Anfield.
19 - Abel Hernández (Hull City) £10m
Scored a cracker on his debut against West Ham after signing from Palermo for £10m and was going at a goal every other game until Nikica Jelavic’s injury forced him into a solo role. He missed two games on paternity leave and has added only one more goal since mid-October in 24 league appearances, some out wide,some from the bench and some while wearing a wig.
18 - Brown Ideye (West Bromwich Albion) £10m
West Brom made the Nigeria striker their record signing when they bought him from Dynamo Kiev in the summer. He started slowly, being used only four times as a substitute and five times from the start in the league before New Year's Day, scoring one goal, a late consolation in the 3-1 defeat by Man City on Boxing Day. Alan Irvine seemed to be sceptical about his qualities, leaving him out of the squad entirely for two games in November. “'I have found it difficult but people can’t criticise, pull me down or have a gun at my head for not playing,” he said. “I don’t think that is fair.” Three league goals in 2015 suggest a mini-renaissance under Tony Pulis who has encouraged him to work like a Trojan, running his socks off down the channels but the Baggies wanted a 20-goal a season man for their money not a poor man's Jonathan Walters (particularly as they've already got Victor Anichebe).
17 - Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea) £23.3m
Bought as one for next season by Jose Mourinho who had the strength if not necessarily in depth to cope with both the loss of Andre Schurrle and a long bedding in period for the Colombian attacking midfielder. Three starts and eight appearances off the bench were enough to earn him a Premier League winners' medal and while there have been glimpses of his dribbling skills he still looks short of being ready to challenge strongly to take the places of Willian or Oscar.
16 - Steven Caulker (QPR) £8.5m
Difficult to pick only one defender from Rangers' chaotic back four which conceded 68 goals in 37 games but Caulker, the most expensive and the most promising given his form at Spurs, Swansea and in spurts at Cardiff, was all over the place. Hard to tell whether the general lack of organisation and pace around him left him horribly exposed and at 23 has yet to find the confidence to be the leader the team needs or if his recklessness was not the result of trying to put out fires but evidence of more disturbing flaws.
15 - Jack Rodwell (Sunderland) £10m
The signing from Manchester City lost his regular starting role after six games and though he has featured sporadically since, mainly from the bench, Gus Poyet took the drastic step of omitting him entirely from the match-day squad of 18 for the draw with Aston Villa on Dec 28. Restored to the starting XI on New Year’s Day, he scored in the 3-2 defeat by Manchester City, his second goal in 14 appearances but his sending off against Fulham in the FA Cup and a niggling groin injury kept him out of action for six weeks. The end of his season has been blighted by hamstring trouble and he looks a shadow of the player he was as a teenager at Everton when Fabio Capello rewarded his dynamism and intelligence with three caps.
14 - Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur) £10m
Made only 14 appearances since joining from Swansea and has failed to make a case to be preferred a head of Danny Rose. High profile errors against his hometown club cost Spurs a goal and his difficulties this season were best encapsulated at St Mary's last month when his hesitation on the ball let Graziano Pelle leave him looking foolish to score his first goal and the left-back's failure to stop Shane Long's cross allowed Pelle to score his second. Having been booked for a wild, sliding challenge he then dislocated his shoulder in another and left the field on a stretcher.
13 - Jake Livermore (Hull City) £8m
Had failed to replicate the form he showed while on loan at the KC Stadium last season following his transfer in the summer but has been a solid enough regular not to be on this list save for last week's news that a sample he had given after Hull's victory over Crystal Palace had tested positive for cocaine.
12 - Calum Chambers (Arsenal) £11m
Arsène Wenger had not envisaged using the then 19-year-old he bought from Southampton for a down payment of £11m (with £5m to follow) regulalrly in his debt season at the Emirates but was forced to by injuries and his decision to let Carl Jenkinson leave on loan. Mathieu Debuchy's injury in September gave Chambers a chance at right-back where he was left exposed by a lack of cover at Swansea and Jefferson Montero turned him inside-out. Looked shattered by Christmas and has been used sparingly since. Should be fine when he beds in at centre-back which he will have to do because if Jenkinson returns Chambers will be comfortably fourth-choice on the right next season.
11 - Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) £20m
“He is exactly what I’ve been looking for since Jamie Carragher left,” said Brendan Rodgers after his £20m signing from Southampton’s debut. “He is a dominant, No1 centre-half, who reads the game well, offers good guidance to the back four and the rest of the team – and shows his qualities of range of passing too.” There have simply been too many errors, resulting in goals for Sergio Agüero, Eduardo Vargas, Wayne Rooney and the penalty from which Saido Berahino scored for West Brom. Dropped in the league after his dreadful performance at Old Trafford, injury to Mamadou Sakho gave him another run in the team after Kolo Toure was tried but failed to turn back the clock. Are there signs that he will kick on next season? Very few.
10 - Emmanuel Rivière (Newcastle United) £6m
Looks far too lightweight and better suited to playing with a partner who will share the burden and help tire defenders. Appeared wholly bereft of confidence when stuck up front on his own, wandering out to the wings when his midfielders needed him to hold the ball up in the centre to bring them into play. The 24-year-old averaged a goal every four games in Ligue 1 but took 22 to get off the mark in the Premier League. Seemed a bargain after top-scoring for Monaco last season but when you consider he was playing alongside the likes of Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguez and Dimitar Berbatov, little wonder that he has struggled at St James’ Park, something that Graham Carr's scouting operation must have assessed.
9 - Sandro (QPR) £6m
It’s not unusual for Harry Redknapp to sign a player he had worked with before, but the Sandro he remembers was the colossus he signed for Tottenham not the ponderous yellow-card collector he has become after injuring his knee in January 2013. Paying £6 million for the man who had once been approvingly dubbed “the Beast” never worked out. He is fragile, commits too many fouls and was out for four months after injuring himself celebrating a goal in training. Won only two games in 17 league starts before work permit issues finished his season in farce.
8 - Lazar Markovic (Liverpool) £20m
Square peg in a round hole at Liverpool where he has been too often wasted as a wing-back to accommodate Brendan Rodgers' three centre-half system. Outstanding at Benfica last season as an out and out winger, he won the title and was instrumental in the run to the Europa League final with his brilliant performances against Spurs in the round of 16 and Juventus in the semi-final. Looks a lost lad at Anfield where he is often the first player to be hooked by Rodgers. See Emre Can for another player ill-served by an unbalanced squad and his manager's brainwaves.
7 - Wilfried Bony (Manchester City) £28m
A delayed start to his City career caused by Africa Cup of Nations commitments, followed by injury problems, restricted Bony to two starts and nine substitute appearances for Manuel Pellegrini’s team. “It’s been a difficult time here at City, but this is football,” Bony said before scoring against his old club. “I can’t choose the international programme, I can’t choose the time to be injured." His manager, however, is far from regretful even if he was supposed to be the signing to close the gap on Chelsea. "I am absolutely sure we bought the player that we need and that he will be important in our future,” he said.
6 - Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) £16m
The hat-trick against Galatasaray and the second against Villa in September suggested that Danny Welbeck would thrive playing through the middle for Arsenal after years of being shunted from wing to wing at Manchester United and Arsenal. Yet, too many chances were wasted as autumn turned to winter and, despite the eye-catching goal at Old Trafford in the FA Cup which was given to him on a plate by Antonio Valencia, Arsenal look a far better side with Olivier Giroud at centre-forward. That's not to say he won't be a success, once injury-free, in his old utility forward role. It's just not what he moved to the Emirates for.
5 - Luke Shaw (Manchester United) £27m
Has been sidelined by nine different injuries in his debut season at Old Trafford and, consequently, has made only 16 Premier League appearances. Looks to be playing within himself at United as he adapts - the marauding darts and that ability to whip in crosses on the run that earned him the move have been sacrificed for efficiency and caution, as if he is afraid to make mistakes.
4 - Radamel Falcao (Manchester United) Loan
Cost United a loan fee of £6 million and £200,000 a week wages and has cut a dispirited and dispiriting figure, so diminished from the lethal finisher with quicksilver reflexes that scored 41 league goals in 51 games for Porto and 52 in 68 for Atlético Madrid. Still managed four league goals in 14 starts and 12 appearances from the bench this season but is still some way off peak sharpness after last year's anterior cruciate ligament injury.
3 - Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City) £32m
A remarkable transformation from the defensive giant who was the first in the Premier League to keep Diego Costa quiet, and on the centre-back's debut no less, to the error-prone sieve who kept making rash positioning decisions and even rasher challenges. City's unsettled defence, the lack of midfield cover and the first blip of Vincent Kompany's career in England have not helped him and he certainly has all the attributes - speed, physique, power and a good reading of the game - belatedly to come good.
2 - Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) £16m
Has resumed his role as the generator of priceless newspaper copy because of his social media presence and breezy refusal to compromise his singular approach to killing boredom. On the field, he has failed to recapture the peaks of his Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan form in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and is wholly unsuited to Liverpool’s current system. One league goal, in February, has been followed by injury, illness, more haircuts and a complete loss of the manager's faith in him. There was a hell of a player in there once, and may be again, but Brendan Rodgers has given up trying to find it and seems happy to cut Liverpool's losses.
1 - Angel Di María (Manchester United) £59.7m
The most expensive signing in English football history began in the kind of form those who had watched him in La Liga, the Champions League and World Cup in 2013-14 had come to expect. But injury and a high-profile robbery have ruined his season and left him marginalised at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal has stuck him upfront, on either wing since his three weeks out in December and increasingly restricted him to a role on the bench, particularly after his Cup red card for manhandling the referee Michael Oliver. Since March, United have improved in what Paul Scholes calls "a triumph of the underdog - Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young". Whether Van Gaal is prepared to turn back to his pedigree signing (three goals in 26 league appearances) and remodel the system is one of the summer's biggest issues.