Ranked! The 50 worst players in Premier League history
10. Bosko Balaban
The Croatian had been Dinamo Zagreb’s top scorer for two years running when he signed for Aston Villa back in 2001, in a £5.8m, £20,000 a week deal. His time in Birmingham was a disaster – the striker made just two starts and seven substitute appearances over two and a half years, failing to score.
Weirdly, the drought ended as soon as he left Villa. Balaban scored 15 in 24 when loaned back to Zagreb, and was positively prolific after joining Brugge on a free transfer, netting 25 goals in 24 games in his first season, then 27 in 30 in his second.
9. Igors Stepanovs
If Marian Pahars was the Latvian Michael Owen, then Stepanovs was probably the Latvian Titus Bramble. Panic-bought from Skonto Riga by Arsene Wenger in 2000 after an injury to Tony Adams, Stepanovs English career started well – he scored on his debut, and saw his playing time gradually increase until an infamous game against Manchester United.
A Stepanovs-Gilles Grimandi centre-back pairing was no match for Dwight Yorke, who smashed in a 21-minute hat-trick. United were 5-1 up at half-time, and won 6-1 with the Latvian culpable for at least two of the goals.
Stepanovs only made one more appearance that season, but did collect a Premier League winners medal the following year by virtue of being an unused substitute on the day Arsenal clinched the title.
8. Winston Bogarde
The Dutchman had enjoyed an illustrious playing career by the time he joined Chelsea, with spells at Ajax, Milan and Barcelona on his CV. Perhaps that’s what convinced the Blues to give him such a lucrative contract in the summer of 2000 – but Bogarde’s hopes of making an impact at Stamford Bridge were over before they had begun.
Manager Claudio Ranieri had no interest in the player, who nonetheless opted to stay with Chelsea and see out his £40,000 a week contract instead of trying to find football elsewhere. "Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract,” he wrote later.
Chelsea tried to force him to leave, even dropping him down to train with the youth teams, but Bogarde stubbornly remained as his career ticked away. “I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don't care,” he said.
One of the more baffling transfers in English football history, the arrival of Bebe at Manchester United for a reported £7.4m in 2010 was greeted with widespread confusion – especially when the normally meticulous Alex Ferguson admitted to having never seen him play. It arguably made more sense when it emerged that super-agent Jorge Mendes had just signed him as a client.
The Portuguese forward made seven appearances for United in his first season and generally equipped himself with the effort and lack of finesse of a competition winner. The remainder of his United career was spent out on loan, before he was sold to Benfica.
6. Junior Lewis
The bumbling midfielder was voted Leicester’s worst ever player by fans in a FourFourTwo poll, with Foxes fan James Sharpe citing his: “Incredible ability of being 6ft 2in standing height, and 5ft 8in when jumping.” That he was also named Stevenage’s worst-ever player in the same survey says it all.
Lewis made 30 appearances for Leicester in a three-year spell, and seems to owe much of his career to Peter Taylor, who signed him for £150,000 (plus five other times during his career, including when he left Filbert Street on a free).