12 football transfers that were a flop

12 football transfers that were a disastrous flop

Football’s transfer window is an exciting time of the season. Players frequently switch teams and sometimes even join their club’s rivals, which gives the game greater variety. While some clubs lavishly spend money to chase success during the season, others flex their muscles in the transfer market to show off their wealth. In terms of money, records are broken in the transfer window very frequently. 

Some players go on to become enormous successes, while others vanish into obscurity. Some individuals come in search of large sums of money but fall short of expectations. In light of that, let’s have a look at some of the worst transfers in the history of football.

12 football transfers that were a major flop 

Philippe Coutinho: Liverpool – Barcelona (2018) 

The worst transfer in Barcelona’s history but one of the most significant in Liverpool’s. Barcelona agreed to spend €120m (£100m/$130m) for a player that they genuinely didn’t need, plus €40m (£34m/$43m) in potential bonuses. Was he an offensive or defensive midfielder, or was he both? Even though Josep Maria Bartomeu had no idea, he made a special effort to sign the Brazilian. 

La Liga 2016/17: Xavi indirectly suggests that Coutinho has Barca DNA

Creator: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2016 AMA Sports Photo Agency

His two goals against the Catalans in 2020 while on loan to Bayern Munich were his most noteworthy accomplishment throughout his four years at Barca. As they frantically tried to regain some financial stability at Camp Nou after very nearly going bankrupt under Bartomeu, they allowed Coutinho to join Aston Villa for just €20 million (£17 million/$21.5 million) in 2022. This was after years of unsuccessfully trying to sell Coutinho. 

Eden Hazard: Chelsea – Real Madrid (2019) 

Eden Hazard’s transfer to Real Madrid, which had been in the works for ten years, looked hopeless the moment the winger showed up overweight for preseason practice. To be fair to Hazard, he was incredibly unlucky with injuries, given that he was virtually injury-free throughout his tenure at Chelsea. But even when he’s been able to string together a few matches in Spain, he’s come off as a pretty shoddy replica of the guy who shone in the Premier League for several years. 

Chelsea report: Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard to decide future next month | FourFourTwo

Creator: Quality Sport Images Copyright: 2020 Quality Sport Images

Although Hazard has won numerous prestigious awards, including the Champions League, he contributed about as little to Real Madrid’s 2021–22 victory as Gareth Bale. Eden Hazard admitted that he expected more from his time at Real Madrid and regretted not being able to make an immediate impact. He also claimed that the transition from the Premier League to La Liga was more difficult than he anticipated. 

Paul Pogba: Juventus – Manchester United (2016) 

Paul Pogba was a pointless departure from Manchester United in 2012. In 2016, United re-signed Pogba from Juventus for a record-breaking £89.5 million. However, ten years later, it occurred once more. Most fans were overjoyed to see the departure of a player that they had lost hope in and believed was never going to consistently show his world-class quality.

What will it take for Man United to unlock the international Paul Pogba?

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Several incensed fans on the Stretford End yelled, “F*ck off, Pogba!” in addition to booing the France midfielder during the Premier League match against Norwich in April 2022. Still, it was painful to lose such a valuable asset for free. Pogba eventually made his way back from where he came after six seasons, one Europa League victory, one Carabao Cup triumph, a series of dreadful performances, and repellent come-and-get-me appeals to rival teams. 

Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan – Chelsea (2021) 

Given that he had only managed to score once during his prior stay at Stamford Bridge, Lukaku said that his decision to return to Chelsea was motivated by “unfinished business.” Although the striker ended the 2021–22 season as the club’s top scorer, his second stint was significantly worse than his first. Considering the club-record investment of £97.5m ($119m) in his services, 15 goals from 44 appearances was a pitiful return. 

Stop Romelu Lukaku and stop Chelsea? Unfortunately for their rivals it is far more difficult than that

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Midway through the season, Lukaku gave an unapproved interview to Sky Sport Italia in which he expressed his undying love for his old team Inter and, even more incredibly, questioned Thomas Tuchel’s tactics. This was solely Lukaku’s fault. He never really recovered from betraying his manager and Chelsea’s fans, which made his loan back to San Siro inevitable. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter Milan – Barcelona (2009) 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an absolute legend of the game, as he would be the first to tell you. But his transfer to Barcelona is one of the worst business decisions ever. Remember that in addition to paying Inter €69.5 million (£59 million/$75 million) for Ibrahimovic, Barcelona also gave up 2009 Champions League champion Samuel Eto’o, who later went on to help Inter Milan in winning the treble after knocking out Barca in the semifinals. 

Barcelona coach Xavi uses Zlatan Ibrahimovic as example in his press conference

Creator: Alexandra Beier | Credit: Bongarts/Getty Images Copyright: 2010 Getty Images

By that time, Pep Guardiola, the then-manager of Barcelona, and Zlatan had completely fallen out, with Ibrahimovic accusing the Catalan of having “no balls” and “sh*tting himself” in front of his old boss Jose Mourinho. The late Mino Raiola, the striker’s agent, called Guardiola a “coward” and even attacked him before the 2012 Champions League final. However, it’s crucial to remember that Ibrahimovic had a goal total of 21 throughout all competitions, but this is possibly the greatest personality clash in football history. 

Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid – Barcelona (2019) 

In 2018, Antoine Griezmann sparked anger among Barcelona fans after teasing them with the possibility of a €100m transfer to Camp Nou, only to publicly reject it in a video documentary produced by Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique. The fans were indignant. They were through with the Atletico Madrid star. 

Details of Griezmann Barcelona contract out after Atletico Madrid switch

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However, Bartomeu strangely pursued Griezmann again the following year, willing to pay the Frenchman’s contract buy-out clause of €120 million (£100 million/$130 million), as if trying to make a point. In 2021, Antoine Griezmann returned to Madrid and rejoined Atletico on loan before making a permanent move back to Diego Simeone’s side. Despite being a talented attacker, his tenure at Camp Nou was brief and largely unsuccessful. 

Joao Felix: Benfica – Atletico Madrid (2019) 

Joao Felix said he had many offers during the summer of 2019, but he thought a move to Atletico Madrid would be beneficial for his future. He couldn’t have been more mistaken, as the forward utterly failed to earn back his €126 million (£113 million/$135 million) transfer cost. It’s still puzzling why Felix chose to play for Diego Simeone, who makes his attackers work just as hard as his midfielders and defenders, given that he said he merely wanted to “enjoy” football at the time. 

Atlético Madrid's João Félix And The Two Faces Of Football

Creator: AITOR ALCALDE | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: AITOR ALCALDE

This deal didn’t seem to fit from the beginning, and it turned out to be the case when Atletico agreed to let Felix join Chelsea on loan for the rest of the 2022–23 campaign. Joao Felix scored just 25 goals in 96 Liga games. He did, however, extend his contract with the Rojiblancos during the process, although it is clear that this was only done to try to reclaim part of the money they spent on their record signing after what they think will be a fruitful tenure at Chelsea. 

Ousmane Dembele: Dortmund – Barcelona (2017) 

Barcelona was in a bind after Neymar’s shocking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain back in the summer of 2017. Even though PSG paid a record-breaking sum for the Brazilian, every club in the world was aware of Barcelona’s financial bonanza and their pressing need for a replacement. 

Barcelona to keep Ousmane Dembele after recent great performances

Creator: Quality Sport Images | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2019 Quality Sport Images

Barcelona made the ultimate panic purchase by paying an initial €105 million (£90 million/$112 million) for a player with just one successful Bundesliga season under his belt. Dortmund sensed Barca coming from a mile away and pressed hard on Ousmane Dembele until the Catalans buckled. 

The quality of the France international is undeniable. He’s having a decent run of form right now. However, let’s face it: Dembele has utterly failed to live up to his price tag, spending the majority of his time at Camp Nou hampered by injury. 

Harry Maguire: Leicester City – Man Utd (2019) 

Harry Maguire displayed the potential to excel as a Premier League defender. At Leicester, he gave such proof. Even Pep Guardiola wished to sign the English defender in 2019. However, Maguire claimed he chose United instead, but the truth is that Manchester City resisted the offer because of the cost. City simply didn’t think Maguire was worth a defender’s world-record transfer cost, and their judgment was sound. 

Manchester United legend: Harry Maguire lacks character | Manchester united legends, Manchester united, Premier league

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According to Maguire, some of the vitriol he has endured from Manchester United supporters over the past three years has crossed “the line.” There is no disputing, though, that his trophy-less tenure at Old Trafford has been a painful letdown, and the choice to name him the club captain has long since come off as absolutely absurd.

In case you forgot, United spent £80 million ($100 million) on Maguire; the price they would receive today is hardly half that much. Although the England international is undoubtedly a tremendous financial waste, he may not be “sh*t,” as Rafael van der Vaar once claimed. 

James Rodriguez: Monaco – Real Madrid (2014) 

During Colombia’s 2014 World Cup run to the quarterfinals, Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, fell in love with the young, skillful James Rodriguez, just like everyone else in the football world. James became Perez’s newest Galactico as the offensive midfielder with a knack for stunning goals had long fantasized about playing for Real Madrid. 

Real Madrid in 'advanced talks' to sell James Rodriguez to Everton

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He showed glimpses of a Galactico during his debut season in Spain, finishing the season with 17 goals across all competitions. Although the 2016 appointment of Zinedine Zidane as manager was a significant turning moment in Madrid’s contemporary history, it also effectively signaled the end of James’ Real Madrid tenure. 

Under the Frenchman, who once asserted that James had requested to be benched from a match against Athletic Club, the Colombian saw little action on the field. The €80 million (£68 million/$86 million) signing ultimately left for nothing after spending two years on loan at Bayern Munich and having a terrible final season in which he only made eight appearances. This is the ideal example of how much his stock had dropped since winning the Golden Boot in Brazil. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Athletico Madrid – Chelsea (2018) 

The priciest goalie in the world but not even close to the greatest. Although the £72 million price tag may have finally helped him recapture his starting position from Edouard Mendy, it would not be unexpected to see Chelsea want to offload the Spaniard at the end of the year, especially following his most recent error. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga Errors Will Continue to Hurt Chelsea

Creator: Pool | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2020 Pool

Of course, there might not be many takers. Kepa is unquestionably not a top goalie. He will undoubtedly always be linked to the Carabao Cup. First and foremost, for ignominiously refusing to be replaced in the 2019 championship game, and secondly, for failing to make a single save and then missing the go-ahead penalty kick after being substituted just for the shootout against Liverpool in the 2022 tournament decider. 

Alvaro Morata: Real Madrid – Chelsea (2017) 

Many experts believe that Alvaro Morata’s agency is the greatest in the industry. What other explanation is there for a striker who has constantly had trouble finding the back of the net earning lucrative transfers to Europe’s top clubs? Morata did score 15 goals in La Liga in 2016–17, which persuaded Chelsea to pay £60 million ($75 million) to acquire him from Real Madrid. 

Alvaro Morata opens up about difficult 12 months at Chelsea - The Chelsea Chronicle

Creator: MB Media | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2018 MB Media

The Spain international’s unpleasant 18-month spell at Stamford Bridge was cut short in January 2019 when he was sent to join Atletico Madrid on loan with an eye toward a permanent transfer. He scored just 16 Premier League goals throughout that time. While in England, Morata believed that the media was too quick to blame him, but given the enormity of the outlay, it is tough to view his goal return as anything other than a disappointment.

Football players

Top 15 Unusual Superstitions of football players

Superstitions and bizarre rituals have a very narrow border between them, but some people are able to cross it a little bit more than others. Superstition in football is surprisingly common. Players, managers, and team presidents all have their own rituals and lucky items, such as a favorite t-shirt or pair of underwear that they wear for good luck. They even have superstitions about what order to put on their boots. It is not surprising that team members of all levels, from players to managers to team presidents, also have their own superstitions before, during, and after games. 

More specifically, football superstitions often revolve around rituals that are done before and during the game, such as crossing oneself or finding a specific seat to sit in. Some players even have lucky charms that they carry with them. There have been reports of teams having specific colors for playing gear or pregame meals to bring about good luck. 

Football players also have superstitions about their equipment, such as the order in which they put on their boots or gloves. There have been reported cases of players wearing certain pieces of clothing throughout the season, believing it will bring them luck. Additionally, some players have rituals they perform before each game, such as spinning around a certain number of times or having a specific way of entering the field. Let’s have a look at some of the most unusual superstitions of football players. 

Top 15 Unusual superstitions of football players 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Arguably, the greatest footballer on earth, Cristiano Ronaldo, also carries a set of superstitions with him. The former Real Madrid superstar has a set of things he practices daily before every game. Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his superstitious behavior. He has been observed to wear the same pair of socks during a streak of games, cross himself before a match, and enter the field with his right foot first. 

Real Madrid make Cristiano Ronaldo transfer decision

Creator: BSR Agency | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2022 BSR Agency

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also carries a lucky charm with him- an old Portuguese coin that was given to him by his grandfather. Ronaldo has several superstitious habits, such as being the first to disembark while traveling to a game by plane and standing in the same way during free-kicks. He also has other unique superstitions, such as eating a certain meal before a game or listening to a specific song.

Pele 

Pele, one of the most successful league goal scorers and greatest players of all time, was not exempt from superstition. During a difficult period in his career, he thought the cause might be tied to a jersey he had given away to a fan after a match. He sent a friend on a mission to retrieve the jersey to remedy the situation. 

Fortunately, the friend was able to locate the shirt and give it back to Pele. Shortly after, Pele’s goal-scoring form was restored. However, Pele’s friend didn’t really find his jersey but gave the three-time World Cup champion the jersey he had worn in the previous game. Nevertheless, his trick worked, and Pele got back into his old form.

Lionel Messi 

Lionel Messi has an interesting superstitious ritual that he follows before taking a free kick – he will place the ball down with both hands, step back the same amount of steps each time, spread his legs, and take a deep breath. This technique has definitely paid off, with Messi often scoring goals from the resulting set piece! 

Gareth Bale 

Gareth Bale had a few superstitious rituals to help him avoid injuries. One of those was cutting holes in his socks before stepping onto the pitch, believing it helped to prevent compression on his calf muscles. He also used to drive his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games but stopped because he thought the seating put too much pressure on that area of his legs. His superstitions seem to have worked, as he left the game as one of the best to be out there. 

John Terry 

John Terry was well-known at Chelsea for having around 50 superstitions, such as sitting in the same place on the team bus and always listening to the same Usher album. He also had his own lucky pair of shin pads, which he wore for ten seasons. John Terry would definitely be a grandmaster if awards were given out for superstition. 

Danielle De Rossi 

The famous player from Rome was also known for his superstitious behavior. During the 2012 World Cup, Danielle De Rossi sported one long sleeve on his left arm, and a short sleeve on his right, which some say was an homage to the gladiators of the Colosseum. Others believe he may have been trying to hide a tattoo on his left arm. 

Johan Cruyff 

Johan Cruyff made an indelible mark on the history of football. His playing for Ajax and Barcelona helped to popularize the “total football” style, which led the Netherlands to a World Cup final. His iconic Cruyff turn is still one of the toughest skills to master for any footballer today. Despite his incredible football aptitude, Cruyff was famous for his pre-match rituals, which were very difficult to understand. Shortly before kick-off, he was known to slap goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then walk to the opposite half of the field to spit out his chewing gum toward the opposition goal. 

Johan Cruyff's all-time XI typically contained a lot of attacking options

Creator: R. Powell | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2016 Getty Images

“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me. Once I’ve gone through with my little system before the game, my mind is fully focused on what we have to do to be successful on the pitch,” said Cruyff. 

Cruyff’s usual pre-match rituals were put to the test at the 1969 European Cup final when he forgot to chew gum. Cruyff slapped goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach as usual and walked to the opposite half of the field to try and realized he wasn’t chewing any gum. Unfortunately for Ajax, they ended up losing the match 4-1. 

Phil Jones 

Manchester United’s defender Phil Jones has an interesting superstition – he will determine whether to put on his left or right sock first depending on if the Red Devils are playing at home or away. This certainly makes for an intriguing pre-match ritual. 

Jones explained: “The fixtures list United on the left side when we’re at home and on the right when we’re away. So this weekend, I’ll put my right sock on first because it will be Swansea v United.” “Next week, if I play against Benfica at Old Trafford, I’ll put my left sock on.” 

He added: “I also don’t like stepping on white lines on the pitch. When I cross a white line, I’ll take the first step with the foot that corresponds to whether we’re home or away.” 

Jamie Vardy 

Jamie Vardy’s superstitious ritual prior to every Leicester City Premier League game during their successful 2015-2016 season was quite unique – he would drink half a bottle of port and then gulp three cans of Red Bull in one go the day before a match. It looks like this truly gave him the wings he needed to soar to success! 

Cesc Fabregas 

Cesc Fabregas had a curious pre-game ritual involving his wife, Daniella Semaan. He would kiss a ring she gave him four times (his lucky number) before putting it in the locker and stepping out on the pitch. It seems that this little superstition helped him perform on the pitch as he was a key player for Chelsea 

Mesut Ozil 

Former Fenerbahce star Mesut Ozil had some unusual pre-game rituals, such as tying several knots in his boots and always making sure to put the right boot on first. We’re sure his kit man had a tough time dealing with this superstitious behavior! 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

I need to realise I'm not Superman' - How 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is inspiring Milan's title charge | Sporting News Canada

Creator: ISABELLA BONOTTO | Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pre-game ritual involves a sex ban for his wife, Helena Seger, as he believes it affects his performance on the pitch. He admitted to having a particularly bad game after an evening of fun, so this superstition is definitely something he sticks to. 

Thibaut Courtois 

Thibaut Courtois is known to have a superstitious ritual that he follows during Belgium’s national anthem – he touches his chin for good luck. Observant fans have spotted this many times during games, and it looks like this ritual has been successful in keeping him at the top of his game! 

David Beckham 

Before leaving for a game, David Beckham (who admits he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder) was known to have a superstitious ritual of making sure all the condiments in his fridge were arranged perfectly. He had to make sure nothing was out of place before he left his house. 

Wayne Rooney 

Wayne Rooney’s pre-game snack of choice is no surprise – he loved to drink a bowl of Coco Pops cereal! This makes sense, as the cereal is known for its chocolatey taste, and it likely gives him a boost before taking the pitch. 

“I tend to have just a bowl of coco pops,” he once admitted. “The normal ones, not the moons and the stars.”

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