Ranked! The 10 worst signings of the 2017 summer transfer window
6. Joselu (Stoke to Newcastle, £5m)
Newcastle needed goals ahead of this season and Mike Ashley publicly promised Rafa Benitez “every last penny” for squad improvement. Look how that worked out; Benitez’s future is now growing more uncertain by the day.
Joselu is not substandard, but the 27-year-old won’t guarantee anything like the volume of goals that Benitez was hoping for. In his entire top-flight career, spanning spells in England, Germany and Spain, he has never scored more than nine goals in a league season.
The transfer which brought him to St. James’ Park wasn’t a bad deal - naturally, it was extremely thrifty - but the distance between the improvement he will provide and that which Newcastle needed is absolutely vast.
5. Danny Drinkwater (Leicester to Chelsea, £35m)
Way, way too much money. Chelsea suffered through some unexpected failures on deadline day and clearly would have preferred to have signed Ross Barkley - either additionally or instead of Drinkwater.
So, although the club’s interest in the player was semi-long-term, the fee they ultimately parted with was clearly inflated by their own desperation. Antonio Conte was public in his dissatisfaction over Chelsea’s inertia in the market and this seems like an act of appeasement. Drinkwater is a good player, but is he someone whose form will truly help his club thrive? Not really – he’s just another body.
This looks a Steve Sidwell/Scott Parker move - the classic over-reach by a player attracted to the bright lights and the false promise of a bigger stage. N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko are Conte’s default starters, Cesc Fabregas is the attacking variation from the bench, and it’s unclear exactly where Drinkwater’s game time is actually going to come from.
That doesn’t make him a bad player, just a good one guilty of a bad decision.
4. Pablo Zabaleta (unattached to West Ham)
Zabaleta has been a terrific player and, by all accounts, he’s a model professional and thoroughly decent human being.
However, if ever a transfer was quintessentially West Ham, it’s this one. He’s a name, he’s past his best, and his wages are likely huge; it’s symptomatic of the short-termism which has slowly eroded the club’s culture. Zabaleta is a modern Manchester City icon and the hope, presumably, was that some of his winning intangibles could be transplanted into the London Stadium dressing room.
Football rarely works like that, though, and on current evidence this is another misfire from a recruiting department which has been shooting blanks for a while. It’s not really Zabaleta’s fault, he just isn’t the magic bullet for West Ham’s myriad issues.
Plus, who actually wants to see this? A once-great player looking old and lost in a muddled, poorly constructed team. No thanks.