The clubs have various sources to recruit players. They send scouts to find potential talents, their youth academy could be a source of players and the last is transfers. Since we can remember, transfers have been an integral part of the world of football. Clubs have always kept an eye out on emerging players who have outperformed and could help them win trophies.
Numerous players have switched over from small clubs to humungous title contenders; the theory of Galacticos is based on transfers. As the years passed by the price tags on players kept on increasing, from getting Cristiano Ronaldo for around 80 million pounds in 2008 to paying the buyout clause of Neymar worth 222 million pounds, a lot has changed since then. With that price tag comes a hype among the fans as well as an expectation to perform which coincides with the price tag.
Over the years many players have been involved in such big-money moves. Not every player lived up to their price tag and many players did live up to the end of the bargain and many tumbled over and were considered the worst transfers of all time. A player like Cristiano Ronaldo for 80 million and with reference to the performance he gave, it could go down as the best Real Madrid could have gotten in their history.
So here are 5 of the most hyped transfers that failed miserably—
- Eden Hazard(Real Madrid)
Life at Real Madrid has been hard since 2018 when the world shook at the news of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the club he was said to finish his footballing career in. During his time Real Madrid dominated the Champions League and won the competition for 3 consecutive seasons.
Since then Real Madrid’s board has been passing on the legendary No. 7 jerseys to players in search of the right one to fill his boots at the club. One such attempt was a big-money move of the Premiere League sensation Eden Hazard.
The Galacticos signed the Belgian Forward for a whopping £140 Million from Chelsea in 2019. He was on the top of his game in Chelsea and was one of the most feared and prolific strikers the world has seen.
When the news of Eden Hazard broke out, the Madristas finally believed that Eden Hazard will be the one to set things right and could be the missing piece of their puzzle which was left incomplete since Ronaldo left.
The Madridistas are still waiting to see that Hazard which used to run riot in Chelsea. They still haven’t seen him score goals and provide assists. They haven’t even seen him play much. Since joining Real Madrid, Eden Hazard has lost his mojo.
In the 2019-20 season, Eden Hazard has only played 16 LaLiga matches and 6 Champions League matches the whole season in which he scored 1 goal and assisted 6. He was bedridden and injured for most of the season. As soon as he used to recover, it was just a matter of a match or 2 before he got injured again.
He’s been very unlucky so far – just as the injury was over, now the virus happens,” Thorgan told a press conference, as cited in quotes by Diario AS
In 2020-21 the fans hoped for a better season from the starlet, but they were just in for more disappointment. He was injured most of the season and played just 14 matches in LaLiga and 5 matches in Champions League in which he scored a combined 4 goals and gave 1 assist.
The fans as well the board had to question the fitness as well as the player’s capabilities to perform at his best, thus leading to one of the biggest transfer failures for Real Madrid.
Will the Madristas ever get to see a player finally perform wearing the No. 7 Jersey?
- Phillipe Coutinho(FC Barcelona)
The board of Josep Bartomeu made several mistakes and signing Phillipe Coutinho was one of them. The Liverpool starlet was an amazing player. His story is very much like that of Eden Hazard, a Premiere league star coming to LaLiga and losing his mojo. This player was a threat in the Liverpool team and was seen as one of the best forward of the Premiere League.
He was then involved in a big-money move to FC Barcelona in 2018 through a massive £105 million which could have reached £142 million if other clauses would have been met.
When Neymar left Barcelona, the burden on the duo of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez increased significantly with the rest of the team deteriorating in terms of performance. They signed Phillipe Coutinho to fill Neymar’s shoes as well as his position on the left-wing.
Phillipe Coutinho was not able to fit into the Barcelona system and had to play in an unnatural position. During the 2018-19 season, he played 34 games in LaLiga, 12 games in Champions League and 7 games in Copa Del Rey. During that span, he was able to score a combined 11 goals and gave 5 assists.
For a player of the stature of Phillipe Coutinho, those numbers are nowhere near the level of gameplay he used to portray in Liverpool.
His unconvincing performance saw him being loaned out to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 season. Phillipe Coutinho was signed by Barcelona only to produce the performance of the season against them in a thrashing by Bayern Munich in Champions League where he came on as a substitute in the latter half of the second half and still scored 2 goals against his former club. He still had a better performance at Bayern as compared to his previous season at FC Barcelona which saw him receive a call back as Ronald Koeman had decided to put his trust in him during the rebuilding process.
Coutinho was called back; he still was unconvincing and was unable to fit into the system yet again. With the season being tightly packed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he picked up an injury in November 2020 which sidelined him for the rest of the season.
He has almost recovered and Barcelona is finding a win to sell him and reduce the wage bill while getting a good enough amount for him. Ronald Koeman on the other hand still has a bit of faith in him which could make him stay if no good enough offers arrive for him.
Will the Culers be able to witness the magic of Phillipe Coutinho in the Blaugrana colours?
- Ousmane Dembele(FC Barcelona)
Another one of Josep Bartomeu’s ‘big money’ fiascos was Ousmane Dembele. The budding young talent of Borussia Dortmund, the golden boy with the ability to influence the game and a spark in his feet signed for FC Barcelona in 2017 through a massive cash splash of £105 million. He had abilities similar to Neymar Jr. who Barcelona tried to replace. Dembele had the pace, skills and flair which could have made a difference in any game.
He would have made that difference if it weren’t for his injury-prone body. Most of the problems with him were created by him. He had a lack of discipline and from time to time has shown disregard in various aspects. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
The main problem was him being injury-prone which lead to missing out on a lot of matches. There were many matches where a pacy, skilful winger could have made all the difference for Barcelona but he wasn’t fit for those matches.
In his debut season of 2017-18, he played only 17 LaLiga matches, 3 Champions League matches and 3 Copa Del Rey matches in which he scored a combined 4 goals and gave 7 assists. The following season showed a much higher number of games as he played a total of 29 LaLiga games, 8 Champions League games and 4 Copa Del Rey games where he scored a combined 14 goals and gave 8 assists.
Even after appearing for these games, his performance was not consistent.
This season with Ronald Koeman as a coach he played 30 LaLiga games, 6 in the Champions League and 6 in the Copa Del Rey where he scored 11 and assisted 4. Just when everybody thought Dembele’s bedridden days were behind him, he gets injured again with his international squad in the UEFA Euro 2020.
He is a young player and has the potential to do better but if you would ask a football enthusiast, he’d say that they haven’t got their money’s worth till now. Dembele still might be around as due to his injury, the club won’t be able to sell him so they are looking to renew as he has only 1 year left on the contract.
Will Ousmane Dembele find his flair and fitness in the season of 2021-22?
- Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United)
The Arsenal star player sent waves throughout the world when he transferred to Manchester United in 2018 for a fee of £31 million which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way. The era of Jose Mourinho saw many such transfers. One of them was this where he praised Alexis Sanchez for his qualities displayed in Arsenal and had huge expectations as he was in his prime hoping to replicate the Arsenal performance again in Manchester United. But the Red Devils were about to be disappointed.
He was injury-stricken most of the season which led to less game time. He played a bare minimum of 20 matches in the Premier League, 4 and 3 matches in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup respectively. In all those matches he scored a combined 2 goals and gave 4 assists.
The fans, board and the teammates were devastated. The name of Alexis Sanchez carried a certain expectation due to phenomenal performances in his previous clubs- Arsenal and FC Barcelona. Alas! The pressure was too much for him to handle which was the reason for his crumbling.
Manchester United loaned him out to Inter as Antonio Conte saw something in Sanchez which could have been utilised in his first season at Inter.
A year of loan gave him space for improvement and a way to get back on his feet. The succeeding year saw him go to Inter on a free transfer as Man U’s new coach Ole Gunner Solskjaer did not have confidence in him. This way Man United was able to lighten their wage bill and could end the Alexis Sanchez’s failed transfer saga.
He now has been doing well in Inter as they won the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season thus ending a trail of Juventus dominance in the league.
Some things are sometimes just not meant to be, just like Alexis Sanchez’s time as a player for Manchester United.
- Paul Pogba(Manchester United)
The Juventus star midfielder transferred to Manchester United in 2016 for £89.3 million and dropped an axe on the world. All of the fans and the whole footballing world was shook by this deal and were expecting to chant the stance “POGBOOOOMMM” on their social media handles. The star midfielder was a complete player and could change the result of any game he steps into.
Showing an amazing performance with Juventus earned him a move back to his boyhood club. Pogba became a regular starter and the fans were expecting a great impact from him. Their hopes diminished as the season passed but Paul Pogba wasn’t able to replicate the results here.
In his first season, he played 30 games in the PL and 15 games in the Europa League where he scored a combined 8 goals and gave 6 assists. For a player of his calibre and capabilities, that wasn’t nearly enough.
He continued to give similar performances over the years. He could not be blamed wholly for the performance as Man U was in a rebuilding stage and after Sir Alex Ferguson left they have not been the same with players performing inconsistently and the managers changing after a season or two.
Since Bruno Fernandes came last year, Pogba’s game has also shown an improvement as he has someone in the midfield to partner with, which was exactly what he needed, combined the tactics of Ole Gunner Solskjaer, Paul Pogba improved in the 2020-21 season. But we are yet to see that magic which he can produce.
The game he showed with France in Euro 2020 is what the United fans need to see from him. But as of now, his performance has not been at par with the hype and transfer fees that was paid for him.
With the club under heavy transformation, will we see Paul Pogba leading the charge and making Manchester United a title contender again?