Transfers are arguably the most important aspect of the beautiful game, and signing a good player can transform a club’s fortunes. Which is why managers sign top players for huge amounts of money, hoping that their acquisitions will positively influence their club’s campaign. Sometimes they work, sometimes they go horribly wrong. So let’s look at some high-profile transfers which, with the benefit of hindsight, bear all the hallmarks of football transfer-market blunders.
1. Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is now regarded as one of the most complete footballers in the world. And he is certainly rated one of the Premier League’s best players. So things could have worked out differently for José Mourinho and Chelsea if the manager had gambled on this young footballer’s talent. Chelsea purchased De Bruyne from Genk (for £8 million) and then sent him to Werder Bremen on loan for the following season. Then, in the 2013-14 season, Mourinho recalled him with the intention of bringing him into the Chelsea line up. However, De Bruyne sustained injuries, and Mourinho played him out of position, all of which gave the Belgian little chance to prove his undoubted abilities. A season later, Mourinho decided to cut his losses and sell the player to Wolfsburg for £22 million. He has now returned once more to the English Premier League, where he has become a star performer for Premiership Champions Manchester City, currently rated one of the best teams in Europe.
2. Paul Pogba
Now in his second spell at Old Trafford, Paul Pogba was a gifted young player who seemed to have a great future with Les Blues. Then fate intervened and Sir Alex Ferguson began to doubt whether the youngster had got the staying power to deliver on his obvious promise. A period of indiscipline soon exhausted Fergie’s patience and when the French international’s contract talks stalled in 2012, the legendary manager took the opportunity to offload his errant midfield powerhouse to Juventus. Pogba immediately blossomed with the Italian team and went on to gain further international honours. In 2016, he was transferred back to Manchester United for a (then) world-record £89.3 million before going on to become a World Cup winner with France in 2018. Though his progress with United was lacklustre under José Mourinho, he has been rejuvenated under new caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. So Pogba is once more a potent goalscorer and dynamic midfield presence.
Kaká, a Brazilian playmaker, had acquired a reputation as one of the world’s best. In 2007, he was named FIFA’s World Player of the Year, and also went on to be declared the winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or. So it was as a global superstar that he moved from AC Milan to Real Madrid in June 2009 for a record-breaking transfer fee of £56 million. Although his arrival at the famous club was perhaps eclipsed by the club also signing the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká’s success with Brazil in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup seemed to signal he would make a similar impact at the Bernabeu. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Any moments of Kaká magic were to prove all too rare as the player struggled to regain his form with Los Blancos. He spent four long years in the Spanish capital, scoring only 29 goals in 120 appearances. When he finally left the club, it was to return to AC Milan on a free transfer. Rumours about potential deals are growing each year thanks to social media. Because of this, transfer specials have become some of the most popular football betting markets. Bookmakers showcase their best odds and experts are sharing their strategy. However if you haven’t figured out your own betting strategy yet, you can still score with casino games, just try your luck with Football Star.
4. Juan Sebastián Verón
Verón’s natural ability to dictate the tempo of team play and orchestrate attacking moves from deep positions persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson it was worth spending £28 million to bring the illustrious Argentine from Lazio to Manchester United. Thus he arrived at Old Trafford in 2001 as the most expensive player in British football history. Despite the fanfares which accompanied his deployment in the United team, he was never to have the kind of lasting impact Ferguson had anticipated. It seemed as if Verón could never manage to acclimatise to the Premier League. With the game played at a faster pace than he had experienced in Italy’s La Liga and aggressive defending which gave him less time to dwell on the ball, his form soon began to dwindle away. After what seemed to be an all-too-brief stint at the club, Verón was transferred to Chelsea in 2003 for a fee of £15 million.
5. Romelu Lukaku
Signed by Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2011 for €12 million, Romelu Lukaku was considered a top quality forward and an obvious successor to Didier Drogba. But when Mourinho returned as Chelsea manager in 2013, he decided the club needed some new strikers and seemed happy to overlook Lukaku’s potential. And even when Mourinho’s strike force failed him, he still ignored the player, first loaning him to West Brom and then selling him on to Everton for £28 million where Lukaku proceeded to develop into one of the game’s top strikers.