Ranked! The 50 worst players in Premier League history
It’s a good pub quiz question: who was Manchester City’s record signing prior to Robinho? Oddly enough, that title was held briefly by another Brazilian forward, Jo, who arrived for £19m two months prior to his compatriot in 2008.
Jo was a victim of circumstance at City, signed immediately prior to the sudden dawn of Mansour era, then supplanted within weeks by a far glitzier signing. Yet that doesn’t fully explain his shambolic level of performance, nor how it remained that way once he’d been shipped off to Everton on loan. Has since rediscovered his poacher’s instinct back in Brazil, and currently plies his trade with Nagoya Grampus in Japan.
39. Andreas Cornelius
Whenever a club breaks their transfer record to sign a striker, you imagine there’s a fair few fingers crossed in the boardroom. The bigger the signing, the sillier you can end up looking.
It’s a lesson that was learned the hard way at Cardiff, when the Welsh club parted with £8m or so after manager Malky Mackay identified Andreas Cornelius as a striker who knew where the goal was. As it turned out, he barely knew where the pitch was. His Cardiff career consisted of eight appearances, zero starts, zero goals, and one cut-price move back to Denmark after six months. Red faces all round, not least in the boardroom.
38. Richard Kingson
Ghanaian goalkeeper Kingson made his Wigan debut as a substitute and soon saved a penalty against West Brom, but it was all downhill from there. And downhill immediately: Chris Brunt knocked in the rebound of that penalty, Wigan lost 3-1 and Kingson played three more top-flight games for Wigan – all defeats.
Not great, although there was rather more fun to be had in his subsequent season with Blackpool; their one-year stint in the Premier League under Ian Holloway. He played 20 games, conceded 38 goals and contributed to historic wins over Liverpool and Spurs. Sure, it all ended with a relegation and Kingson being released at the end of the season, but it’s the journey that counts, right?
37. Torben Piechnik
Liverpool’s Graeme Souness era is remembered with little fondness on Merseyside for good reason. History has come to recall all this through the prism of Souness’s horde of terrible signings, and towards the top of a list that includes Paul Stewart, Dean Saunders and Julian Dicks sits Torben Piechnik.
The defender was acquired in the wake of Denmark’s triumphant Euro 92 campaign, to which he contributed a decent performance and a half in the latter stages. After a quietly encouraging start, Piechnik’s form fell off a cliff and he was packed back off to Denmark after two inauspicious years. Merseyside remembers him not as the Alan Hansen replacement he was touted as, but as the epitome of Liverpool’s early ’90s fall from grace.
36. Dean Leacock
Leacock is that rare treat of a footballer: a one-time top-flight pro who has embarked on a devoted career of whistle-stop lower-league journeymanship. Now 33, the centre-back plies his trade for Lowestoft Town of the Isthmian League and among his former clubs can count Billericay Town, Welling United, Whitehawk and Crawley Town. Yet in his Premier League heyday, it was Derby County and Fulham.
There’s plenty to love about a player willing to trek to even the most windswept outpost in his thirst to simply play football – and given that he was a member of that Derby side of 2007/08 (11 points from 38 games), no one can say he hasn’t earned it. Good luck to him.