Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal)
Arsenal did their best to offload the Frenchman to Brighton towards the end of the transfer window, but those efforts followed a similar pattern to others from the Gunners this summer – in failure.
Debuchy hasn’t played for Arsene Wenger’s side since November 2016, when he injured his hamstring against Bournemouth, and is quite clearly surplus to requirements on a reported £70k per week. He’s played only 23 times since joining from Newcastle for £12m in summer 2014.
Stuart Taylor (Southampton)
A new contract this summer for the banter-loving benchwarmer, who appeared in a brilliant video to announce it (below). The 36-year-old is an unapologetic third-choice goalkeeper who hasn't cared about playing football since about... er, has he ever? ... and yet, he's hardly been without a club since making his senior breakthrough in 1999.
Since then, Taylor has played 95 professional games in 17 seasons – a quite marvellous average of less than six appearances per season. He's going into his second season at Southampton, but hasn't had to play a proper match since starting the final three games of 2014/15 at Leeds. What a way to make a living.
Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace)
Lee has actually featured in the Premier League for Palace this season, having played the second half of the Eagles’ dismal 2-0 home defeat to Swansea last time out. But sightings of the South Korean are few and far between – he made only one league appearance after January 22 last term, and has only ever been a fringe player at Selhurst Park.
Cash-strapped Bolton tried to take him on loan this summer, but the 76-cap star “respectfully declined” the loan opportunity from his former club, according to the Bolton News. The bench it is, then.
Equally at Selhurst Park, see fellow squad-fillers Bakary Sako (eight appearances in 2016/17, none so far this season) and Jordon Mutch (also eight appearances last season).
Massadio Haidara (Newcastle)
Haidara is best remembered as a Newcastle player for being the unfortunate recipient of a horrendous knee-high challenge from Callum McManaman in 2013/14. The left-back only played 11 games that season, though, and it’s been much the same since: even as the Magpies have flitted between divisions, Haidara has mustered only 33 league appearances in his three full seasons on Tyneside.
It’s not like Newcastle didn’t try to get rid of him – Rafa Benitez sent his wantaways to train with the academy earlier this summer, but Haidara is still at St James’ Park. “I told them: ‘Listen, we have too many players, my idea is this and you have to be sure you understand what we need to do,” said the Spaniard. Maybe say it a bit louder next time, Rafa.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s young Serbian wideman could have joined Brighton, Watford or Crystal Palace on deadline day, if reports were to be believed. Instead it looks like the 23-year-old will be fighting for scraps under Jurgen Klopp, after no club snared him before the deadline – not even the Hornets under Marco Silva, who managed him at Hull last season.
Markovic spent time on loan at both the KC Stadium and with Sporting in 2016/17, and has only made 14 Premier League appearances for Liverpool since joining them from Benfica for £20 million (!) in 2014.
Jerome Sinclair (Watford)
Sinclair was considered a talent as promising as Raheem Sterling when Liverpool nabbed him from West Brom’s academy as a 14-year-old. That reputation followed him through his first years at Melwood too, as he impressed for the Reds’ youth sides and looked every bit the player that the Merseysiders hoped he’d be.
But it didn’t last. Sinclair spent time on loan with Wigan at the tail end of 2014/15, but only played once for the Latics before returning to Liverpool and making his Premier League debut against Chelsea in mid-May. In the following season he scored his first goal against Exeter in the FA Cup – but 10 days later it was announced that he’d be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season.
Watford got him for a compensation fee of £4m, but the move hasn’t turned out well for anyone. Sinclair only played for the Hornets six times last campaign, and featured just five times for Birmingham in a half-season loan. So… what now?
Henri Saivet (Newcastle)
Haidara isn’t the only unwanted face on Tyneside. Saivet joined Newcastle from Bordeaux for £5m in January 2016, but played only four times that season as his new team were relegated to the Championship. He didn’t stick around for the Championship season to come, though, and hot-footed it back to France on a year-long loan with Saint-Etienne.
But now the 26-year-old Senegal international is back and apparently prepared to fight for his place in Benitez’s starting XI. That, and Newcastle couldn’t shift him and his £35k-per-week wages. After featuring in the Magpies’ League Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest, Saivet said: “I’m going to fight for the team, for the fans and for everybody. I want to play. “But it depends only on me. I have to work hard to show the manager and other people that I can play.”
Florin Gardos (Southampton)
Downtrodden Gardos might just be the most forgotten man on this list. The Romanian joined Southampton three summers ago but has only played 18 games in all competitions since, last turning out for the Saints back in January’s 5-0 tonking against Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Funnily enough, that was the centre-back’s only appearance of 2016/17, following almost two years without an appearance for Southampton after a nasty knee injury he suffered in summer 2015. Now he’s just way down the pecking order – sixth choice behind Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens, new signings Wesley Hoedt and Jan Bednarek, plus outcast Virgil van Dijk. Oh dear.
Adam Bogdan (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s goalkeeping woes are plain for all to see – and Bogdan is the sorry punchline. The Hungarian has been with the Reds for two years now, during which time he’s featured for them six times (all in 2015/16) and enjoyed a stint on loan at Wigan.
A serious knee injury cut short his stint with the Latics last season, though, and when he returns he’ll be fourth choice at Anfield behind Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius and Danny Ward (who won’t be too happy being third in line with few first-team prospects after such a successful season at Huddersfield last year).
Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke)
Remember when Afellay was well regarded enough to play for Barcelona? That really happened for the Dutchman when he signed for the Catalans from PSV in late 2011 – but the high didn’t last too long.
After loan spells at Schalke and Olympiakos, Afellay wound up at a new-look Stoke in the summer of 2015, and was a first-team regular in his debut season. That all changed when performances dipped, though, and the 31-year-old was restricted to only three Premier League starts last season. His last appearance for the club came on April 4, when a knee injury ended his season and continues to keep him sidelined.
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