Fans always remember two players, one who shines bright on the pitch and one who flops, so let’s check out the 10 players considered the most expensive flops in football history. A lot of money. Sometimes, clubs spend vast amounts of money to sign players they hope will make a difference on the pitch. But not every signing turns out to be a success. Some players fail to live up to their expectations, their price tags, or their potential.
Philippe Coutinho: Liverpool – Barcelona (2018) – €160m
The Brazilian playmaker was a star at Liverpool, scoring 54 goals and providing 45 assists in 201 games for the Reds. He was seen as the perfect fit for Barcelona’s style of play, and the Catalan giants paid a whopping €160 million to bring him to Camp Nou. However, Coutinho struggled to adapt to his new surroundings, role, and teammates. He scored only 25 goals, assisted 14 times in 106 games for Barca, and was often booed by the fans. He was loaned out to Bayern Munich in 2019, where he won the treble, but returned to Barcelona in 2020. He is currently sidelined with a knee injury, and his future is uncertain. He has been in Aston Village since 2022. At first, he went there as a loanee player and played 19 matches in which he scored 5 goals. Soon moved on a permanent deal but picked up an injury.
Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid – Barcelona (2019) – €120m
Another big-money signing that failed to impress Barcelona was Antoine Griezmann. The French forward was a hero at Atletico Madrid, scoring 157 goals and assisting 76 times in 341 games for the Rojiblancos. He helped them win the Europa League, the Super Cup and reach two Champions League finals. He also won the World Cup with France in 2018. He joined Barcelona in 2019 for €120 million, but he has been unable to replicate his form or chemistry with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. He has scored only 35 goals and assisted 17 times in 101 games for Barca and has often been criticized for his lack of impact.
Joao Felix: Benfica – Atletico Madrid (2019) – €126m
The Portuguese wonder kid was one of the hottest prospects in Europe when he joined Atletico Madrid in 2019 for a staggering €126 million. He had scored 20 goals and assisted 11 times in 43 games for Benfica and was compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. He was expected to be the next big thing at Atletico, but he has not been able to justify his price tag or hype. He has scored only 34 goals, assisted 18 times in 131 games for Atletico de Madrid, and has often been injured or benched by Diego Simeone. He has shown glimpses of his talent but has not been consistent or influential enough.
Paul Pogba: Juventus – Man Utd (2016) – €101m
The French midfielder was one of the best players in the world when he returned to Manchester United in 2016 for a then-world-record fee of €101 million. He left United in 2012 for Juventus, where he won four Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia trophies, and reached the Champions League final. He also won the World Cup with France in 2018. However, his second spell at United has been marred by injuries, inconsistency, and controversy. He has scored only 39 goals and assisted 51 times in 233 games for United and has often been linked with a move away from Old Trafford.
Eden Hazard: Chelsea – Real Madrid (2019) – €117m
The Belgian winger was one of the best players in the Premier League when he joined Real Madrid in 2019 for €117 million. He scored 110 goals and assisted 92 in 352 games for Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa League trophies, and one FA Cup. He was also named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice and the FWA Footballer of the Year once. However, his move to Madrid has been a nightmare so far. He has scored only seven goals, assisted 12 times in 76 games for Real, and has been plagued by injuries, fitness issues, and poor form.
Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan– Chelsea F.C (2021) – €117m
The Belgian striker was one of the best strikers in Europe when he rejoined Chelsea in 2021 for €117 million. He left Chelsea in 2014 for Everton, where he scored 87 goals and assisted 29 times in 166 games. He then moved to Manchester United in 2017, where he scored 42 goals and assisted 13 times in 96 games. He then joined Inter in 2019, where he scored 64 goals and assisted 16 times in 95 games, helping them win the Serie A title. He was expected to be the missing piece for Chelsea, but he has been unable to find his form or confidence. He has scored 15 goals for Chelsea and gave 3 assists in 59 matches, and because of his poor form, he went back to Inter Milan on loan, but after coming back from the club, his situation got worst as he held talks with Juventus, which made Inter Milan fans feel betrayal and even Juventus Ultras does not want Lukaku in the team.
Nicolas Pepe: Lille FC– Arsenal F.C. (2019) – €89m
The Ivorian winger was one of the most exciting players in France when he joined Arsenal in 2019 for €89 million. He had scored 37 goals and assisted 18 times in 79 games for Lille, helping them finish second in Ligue 1. He was seen as the perfect addition to Arsenal’s attack, but he has been unable to live up to his potential or price tag. He has scored only 25 goals and assisted 18 times in 107 games for Arsenal and has often been inconsistent, wasteful, and frustrating. He has been sent off twice and struggled to nail down a regular starting spot.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: Athletic Bilbao – Chelsea F.C. (2018) – €80m
The Spanish goalkeeper was one of Europe’s most promising young keepers when he joined Chelsea in 2018 for €80 million, making him the most expensive goalkeeper ever. He had impressed at Athletic Bilbao, where he kept 30 clean sheets in 54 games. He was expected to be the long-term successor to Thibaut Courtois, who had left for Real Madrid. However, Kepa has been unable to justify his fee or reputation. He has kept only 32 clean sheets in 107 games for Chelsea and has made several costly errors and blunders. He also had a public fallout with former manager Maurizio Sarri when he refused to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final 2019. He has since lost his place to Edouard Mendy, who joined Chelsea in 2020.
Angel Di Maria: Real Madrid – Man Utd (2014) – €75m
The Argentine winger was one of the best players in the world when he joined Manchester United in 2014 for €75 million. He had scored 36 goals and assisted 85 times in 190 games for Real Madrid, winning the La Liga title, two Copa del Rey trophies, and one Champions League trophy. He was also named the Man of the Match in the Champions League final 2014. He was expected to be a star at United but turned out to be a flop. He scored only four goals and assisted 12 times in 32 games for United and never looked comfortable or happy at Old Trafford. He also had a burglary at home, affecting his family’s security. He left United after one season for Paris Saint-Germain, where he has been much more successful.
Fernando Torres: Liverpool – Chelsea (2011) – €58m
The Spanish striker was one of the best strikers in the world when he joined Chelsea in 2011 for €58 million. He had scored 81 goals and assisted 20 times in 142 games for Liverpool, forming a deadly partnership with Steven Gerrard. He was also a key player for Spain, winning the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010. He was expected to be a goal machine at Chelsea, but he turned out to be a shadow of his former self. He scored only 45 goals, assisted 35 times in 172 games for Chelsea, and never looked confident or sharp in front of goal. He also missed several clear-cut chances, including an open goal against Manchester United. He did win the FA Cup, the Europa League, and the Champions League with Chelsea, but he could never recapture his Liverpool form.
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