Ranked! The 50 worst players in Premier League history
5. Jozy Altidore
The numbers don’t look good for Altidore. The American striker played 70 league games in English football across two spells with relegation strugglers Hull and Sunderland. He scored only two goals. He was strong, quick and could hold the ball up – but it all seemed to fall woefully apart when he had a chance to score.
However, things have picked up since he left Sunderland in 2015. His record for MLS side Toronto is a prolific 47 goals in 88 games and counting.
4. Milton Nunez
An air of mystery still surrounds the arrival of diminutive Honduran striker Milton Nunez at Sunderland. Signed by Peter Reid for £1.6m on deadline day in 2000, Nunez made just one appearance for the Black Cats, and it’s been rumoured that Sunderland actually signed the wrong player.
Nunez had been playing for PAOK in Greece, alongside the (much taller) Colombia striker Adolfo Valencia, who legend has it is the person Reid was actually after. Nunez himself has given contradictory versions – in an interview 2016, he said he was absolutely the player Sunderland wanted to sign, but in 2017 he told a Honduran newspaper that the rumours were true. Nunez didn’t know what he was doing on Wearside, and no one else did either.
3. Massimo Taibi
According to the Manchester Evening News, Ferguson signed Taibi over Francesco Toldo on the recommendation of his brother Martin Ferguson, who’d been impressed by the goalkeeper’s performances for Venezia, despite the fact the player spoke no English.
A local Italian restaurant owner was enlisted to translate instructions from the side of the pitch, and Taibi’s United career actually started pretty well, with a man of the match performance in a 3-2 win over Chelsea.
However the Italian was not registered in time to play in Europe, a break in continuity which he blames for an infamous error against Southampton. With the Reds 2-1 up, he let a low shot from Matt Le Tissier dribble through his legs and into the net, effectively ending both his United career. He played just four more times for the club, including a 5-0 loss to Chelsea.
West Ham sold Craig Bellamy to Manchester City for £14m in January 2009, and replaced him with a player who had scored three senior goals in 22 games for Serie B side Brescia – for a reported £9m.
Ugandan-born German Savio Nsereko had been named player of the tournament at the Under-19 Euros, but struggled to adjust to Premier League football, which seemed to be too physical for his slight stature. He was sold just to Fiorentina just 10 league games and six months later for £3m; a huge loss that was later the subject of an internal investigation.
After that, Savio’s career drifted through a number of goalless loan spells and personal issues. In 2012, he reportedly spent time in a Thai prison after faking his own kidnapping. Savio had scored a trio of goals before joining West Ham, and it took him until 2013-14 – 10 clubs later – to net again.
1. Ali Dia
Inevitably, the worst Premier League player of all time is Ali Dia. This story remains ridiculous, no matter how many times you hear it, and it is indicative of how some of the country’s biggest football clubs were still being run with the professionalism and rigour of your local Sunday League team, well into the Premier League era.
Apparently, Dia had been calling round a number of clubs claiming to be George Weah’s cousin in 1995 – he had a trial at Coventry, and another at Bournemouth – both of whom swiftly turned him down when they saw him play.
But Southampton boss Graeme Souness took the bait, and after an early injury to Matt Le Tissier he threw Dia into action against Leeds. The Senegalese forward managed 52 minutes of running around aimlessly (Le Tissier thinks he was trying to run away from the ball) before being hauled off again.
Then he disappeared, landing at Gateshead for an eight-game spell a few months later before seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth. He’s reportedly living in London now, so if you see someone in a vintage Southampton shirt wandering aimlessly around Hackney Marshes one weekend, do give Souness a call.