Lists

Ranked! The 50 worst players in Premier League history

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30. Mario Jardel

This must be how MLS fans used to feel when tired, semi-retired players limped over to their league after their primes.

And what a prime Jardel had. The late ’90s was a time before blanket television coverage of the European game, so most of his goalscoring feats occurred in the dark, but in four of his six Primeira Liga seasons, he averaged a goal per game or more. Think about that. To English supporters, he’s a standing joke, but back in Portugal the Brazilian was and remains an immortal.

The Porto hero was similarly prolific in Turkish football with Galatasaray. Then, just short of his 30th birthday in 2003, he became another unlikely addition to the Sam Allardyce movement at Bolton. That’s when, abruptly, the fun stopped. Seven Premier League appearances and nothing but a couple of cup goals, a lack of mobility and a mighty waistline to show for it.

29. Ade Akinbiyi

Yes, we admit it: this has plenty to do with that game for Leicester against Liverpool. Some 20 years later, it’s still hard to watch: the wild shanks, the miscued headers, his sad little face.

 

It would be remiss not to point out that Akinbiyi had a thoroughly respectable career outside the Premier League. Burnley, Wolves and Bristol City fans will all remember him fondly(ish), but the memory of that day at Filbert Street is just too vivid. Top-tier spells either side of his two seasons at the Leicester – at Norwich and Sheffield United – yielded no goals in 18 appearances, suggesting the display wasn't entirely a one-off;

28. Istvan Kozma

The mistake Graeme Souness made as Liverpool manager was trying to change too much, too soon. Revolution rather than evolution. There’s no more vivid symbol of that and of Liverpool’s demise at the time than Istvan Kozma, the Hungarian signed on the basis of his displays for Dunfermline.

At first glance, Kozma was a passable winger. He owned some pace and had a few step-overs in his locker. The trouble, as with many others on this list, was that English football was still a rugged environment in the early 1990s and Kozma - despite his time in Scotland - didn’t have much appetite for that style of play. He was brittle, out of his depth and his brief appearances are recalled only for how startlingly inept he looked in a Liverpool shirt.

27. Marcelino

Newcastle certainly had a thing for dodgy centre-backs. To be fair to Marcelino, he had been a big part of Mallorca’s late-90s resurgence before being signed by Ruud Gullit in 1999 (for all of £5.8m) and there was no reason to believe that he would one day end up on a list like this.

The facts surrounding his time at the club remain unclear. Depending on who you ask, he was either a layabout permacrock who would do anything to avoid actually playing, or a prisoner to his own contract whose career was sabotaged from within the organisation itself.

Whatever the truth, the 17 calamitous Premier League appearances he did make over four years virtually ended the Spanish international’s career and damaged his reputation permanently.

26. Leon Cort

In 2017, FourFourTwo asked fans of every league club in England to vote for their worst ever player. Cort’s entry, for Burnley, is worth a re-airing: “Lacking mobility to the extent of looking like Bambi’s slow cousin on ice.”

The English defender also played for Stoke, Crystal Palace and Hull, and compliments are rather thin on the ground. His best days were at Southend United, perhaps suggesting that he was merely an over-promoted player rather than an outright affront to the sport itself.