Most Premier League clubs have more money than they know what to do with. They barely feel the loss when some is misspent on a player who fails to make a contribution, but it’s galling all the same. Given the financial disparity between the English top flight and leagues in other countries, many end up on contracts that nobody else can compete with.
Unless another Premier League club wants them, these players can be incredibly difficult to shift. With the end of the transfer window approaching, these 10 pricey outcasts are still to be moved on.
Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City)
Most of the world’s most expensive defenders ply their trade in the Premier League, predominately at the Etihad – but this isn’t the first one that springs to mind. While notionally still a Manchester City player, Eliaquim Mangala doesn’t seem to have a future at the club. The £42m signing from Porto arrived in England four years ago but has proved error-prone and unreliable.
He spent a season on loan at Valencia in 2016/17 and then six months with Everton, during which he made just two appearances before suffering a knee injury that saw him sidelined for the rest of his time at Goodison. In Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones there are already enough centre-back options for Pep Guardiola to work with. Mangala, now 27 years old, will need to leave if he wants to play.
Islam Slimani (Leicester)
The summer after winning the title, Leicester spent heavily to consolidate their position in the top half of the table. Six senior players signed in 2016, with Islam Slimani the most expensive of the lot. The Algerian striker joined from Sporting Lisbon for £28m on transfer deadline day, becoming the club’s record signing.
Powerful and potent in the air, Slimani was the top scorer in Portugal the season before but has struggled terribly in England. A brace on his debut was as good as it got for a player who’s looked out of his depth since.
A loan move to Newcastle in January failed to reignite Slimani’s career. He arrived with a thigh injury which delayed his debut, failed to score in four games but did pick up a three-match ban for violent conduct. Leicester are presumably delighted to have him back.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
In the summer of 2014, Liverpool spent their £65m Luis Suarez windfall eagerly but imprudently. Trying to spread the money across several signings, eight new faces were welcomed to Anfield with varying degrees of success. Four years and 34 competitive appearances on, Lazar Markovic – perhaps the worst buy of the lot – is still lingering in the background.
Bought from Benfica for £20m, the Serbian midfielder looked lightweight and ineffective under Brendan Rodgers. Markovic was on loan at Fenerbahce when Jurgen Klopp took over in October 2015, and has been sent on three more loan spells since then to mixed reviews.
The latest, at Anderlecht, was foreshortened by a lack of match fitness, meaning the 24-year-old had to spend six weeks getting up to speed before his debut. He’s presently back at Liverpool but surely not for much longer.
Ahmed Musa (Leicester)
As with Slimani, the £16.6m Nigerian was part of a batch of signings intended to strengthen the then reigning champions. Musa’s blistering pace stood out in a couple of exciting performances in pre-season friendlies but he failed to convert that early promise into consistent showings. There were just two goals in 21 league games in his first year.
Musa was ostracised by Craig Shakespeare and his replacement as manager Claude Puel, before being loaned back to the club the Foxes bought him from, CSKA Moscow, in January. Leicester will hope (and pray) that two well-taken goals against Iceland in the World Cup will help them to recoup as much of their money was possible.
Vincent Janssen (Tottenham)
Ever since Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves flopped so badly in the Premier League, signing a prolific Eredivisie striker has always come with a few caveats and in-built reservations. Unfortunately, they can’t all be Luis Suarez or Ruud van Nistelrooy. Guess which category Vincent Janssen falls into.
Janssen had only spent one season in the Dutch top flight, but what a season it was. After signing for AZ Alkmaar he scored 27 goals, the most in the league, and won the Johan Cruyff Trophy for the best young player.
Those achievements led to international recognition and a £17m move to Tottenham in 2016. Intended to ease his way into English football as back-up to Harry Kane, an ankle injury for Spurs’ star man granted the Dutchman a more prominent role than expected. Janssen worked hard but it wasn’t enough, as he played 25 league games but scored just twice (one a penalty, the other a tap-in). He spent last year on loan at Fenerbahce and Tottenham are keen for him to leave if they receive the right offer. Possibly any offer.
Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea)
Much of the acclaim for Leicester’s miraculous title win understandably went to Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante. Danny Drinkwater’s role didn’t exactly go unnoticed but the initial flush of interest that followed their success focused on those three. In contrast, the diligent midfielder whose excellent passing range helped to launch so many attacks was a little overlooked.
A few England caps and a new contract followed, but a season of struggle and uncertainty for the Foxes prompted a £35m move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day a year ago. Injury and fierce competition for places meant Drinkwater hardly got started – and his prospects look even bleaker since the arrival of Jorginho. Everton and West Ham are rumoured to be interested but time is running out to get something done.
Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)
An impressive run of form at a struggling Hull City led to £10m offers for Snodgrass from Burnley and West Ham in January 2017. The Hammers eventually ‘won’ their man, but soon realised he wasn’t what they were looking for after all. Jettisoned from the starting line-up after 15 appearances and no goals, Robert Snodgrass was told to find another club.
The Scotland international spent last season on loan at Aston Villa, where he improved after a shaky start to become a key player in their run to the play-off final. Defeat to Fulham looked to have temporarily plunged Steve Bruce’s side into financial peril but outside investment has steadied the ship. Snodgrass remains on the fringes at West Ham and of continued interest to Villa.
Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
When it comes to stockpiling promising young players, Chelsea are the best in the business. They send out an army of loanees each summer, many of whom are readily forgotten about by casual supporters. The 23-year-old Zouma – signed for £12m from Saint-Etienne in 2014 – isn’t quite at that stage yet but four-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge hasn’t produced anywhere near the number of games he’d have hoped for.
The French defender played most during the dire 2015/16 season, when Chelsea finished 10th after Jose Mourinho’s sacking. An anterior cruciate ligament injury cut his campaign short and there were few opportunities under Antonio Conte as Zouma worked his way back to full fitness
A loan spell at Stoke followed and while he’s now back at Chelsea, he failed to make Maurizio Sarri’s 25-man pre-season squad and has lost his No.5 shirt to Jorginho. Not a promising sign.
Kevin Mirallas (Everton)
It all started so well for Kevin Mirallas after his arrival at Everton from Olympiacos in 2012, but things have certainly gone stale. The Belgium international was a spiky and purposeful presence on the right side of midfield in his early seasons, particularly under Roberto Martinez. Always prone to flitting between hot and cold streaks, supporters have witnessed a veritable ice age in the last couple of years.
Having signed a new contract last May, Mirallas is tied to Everton until 2020 although the club are now keen to be rid of him. A loan move back to Olympiakos didn’t lead to anything more permanent and the 30-year-old is one of several players that new manager Marco Silva has reportedly told to train separately from the first team squad. Cuco Martina, Ashley Williams and Nikola Vlasic are the others to be frozen out.
Matteo Darmian (Manchester United)
Jose Mourinho is never afraid to let it be known what he thinks of a player. Last season, his preferred full-backs were Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, 30-something wingers who’ve been converted to more defensive roles late on in their careers. This left more conventional defenders like Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian in the shadows, with several thinly-veiled comments about their shortcomings.
Shaw may have earned a reprieve after a summer of hard work, and still has youth on his side, but 28-year-old Darmian – a £12.7m signing from Torino in 2015 – has long been destined for the exit door. The Italian played regularly in his first season but his lack of attacking thrust means he’s been on the fringes ever since. The signing of Diogo Dalot this summer pushes him even further down the pecking order.
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