Transfers can fail for a number of different reasons. Some new signings prove unable to adapt to their new club’s style of play, while others are victims of misfortune related to injuries and changes of management.
At times, though, the causes have little to do with the sport itself. Indeed, a player’s failure to settle off the pitch can affect his ability to produce the goods on it, with the following nine footballers serving as examples of the risks involved when it comes to purchasing players from overseas.
Mauro Boselli (Wigan)
Former Estudiantes striker Boselli boldly declared he wanted to become a part of Wigan's history when he signed for £6m in 2010, while insisting there was nothing he missed about Argentina.
"Everything else can be managed," Boselli boldly declared on his arrival. Everything except a chilly night at Upton Park, that is. The forward missed a penalty against West Ham just minutes after entering the fray, before complaining: “I couldn’t feel my feet, it was so cold."
Boselli eventually left the Latics for the subtropical temperatures of Club Leon in Mexico. In March 2012, Wigan fans voted him the club’s worst ever foreign player.
Darius Vassell (Ankaragucu)
Optimistically labelled the “English Kaka” by Ankaragucu chairman Cengiz Topel Yildirim, Vassell was mobbed by 3,000 fans as a procession of 50 buses and 250 cars welcomed the club’s latest signing at Ankara airport in 2009. His time in Turkey soon turned hellish, though, with the cash-strapped Super Lig team unable to pay his hotel bill.
"People want money, people want goals. They want me to stay but I'm missing my home," Vassell wrote on his blog, where he also revealed he was missing a good old English cuppa. "My favourite sentence is "Bier cay lutfen" [one tea please] but there is only so much Turkish tea that I can drink before the novelty wears off."
Seth Burkett (Sorriso)
Thanks to a fortuitous meeting with a Brazilian agent, Burkett – who was rejected by Northampton and Peterborough as a youngster – became the first British player to play professionally in the home of Pele (pictured), Zico and Ronaldinho. The defender joined Esporte Clube Sorriso and trained in 50-degree heat on a diet of rice and peas.
“It was a massive culture shock," he admitted. "I enjoyed more creature comforts playing non-League for Stamford. In terms of hygiene and cleanliness, it was horrific – a real eye-opener.” Burkett only played for the first team for 15 minutes before his visa expired, but he later wrote an entertaining book about his South American adventure.
Jimmy Greaves (Milan)
Greaves swapped Chelsea for Milan in 1961, but it was clear from very early on that his heart wasn't really in it. The Rossoneri’s austere manager Nereo Rocco didn’t help, banning the forward from escaping the city limits or smoking more than two cigarettes a day.
Greaves' nine Serie A goals helped Milan to the title, but he didn't play enough games to claim a winner's medal. Tottenham boss Bill Nicholson was the striker’s saviour, paying £99,999 for his signature in December.
"He once locked me into my room,” the England international later said of Rocco. “So I escaped out of a window, across a ledge, in a hallway window and out to freedom via the main reception.” Nicely done, Jimbo.
Lars Leese (Barnsley)
In 1997, Barnsley boss Danny Wilson purchased Leese, Bayer Leverkusen's third-choice goalkeeper, without having seen him play. The German was catapulted into the Premiership, becoming the hero of the Tykes’ famous 1-0 victory at Anfield as the famous chant of "Lars Leese, as tall as trees" bellowed out of the away end.
Leese was left bemused by Yorkshire dressing room culture. "How do they do that?" he mused on the size of English bladders at a beer-swilling bonding session; he then glanced under the table to see the home players relieving themselves horizontally.
“England is a special place with its own culture," Leese said. "In Germany, the image I had was of a London gentleman wearing a bowler hat, but when I got to Barnsley and saw it at night I thought, 'Jesus, this is like Mallorca.'" We strongly doubt that anyone else has ever made that comparison.
Hernan Crespo (Chelsea)
Crespo joined Chelsea in August 2003, becoming Claudio Ranieri’s 11th summer signing as the Blues splashed the cash provided by new benefactor Roman Abramovich. But the Argentina international had more problems with household bills than his £17m price tag.
"It was a problem for me to sign a contract for a house," Crespo explained. "It was even a problem trying to use my phone because I couldn't explain what I wanted. If the electricity bill came, it was a problem as well. There was no one to tell me whether to live near Chelsea or the training ground."
The former Inter man was sent out on loan after a disappointing first season at Stamford Bridge, but returned to help Jose Mourinho's charges win the Premier League title in 2005/06.
Nolito (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola made Nolito his second signing after taking charge of Manchester City in summer 2016. The Spanish wide man looked to be a good fit for his manager’s favoured style of play, but in the event he started just nine league games amid concern about the lack of light in his Manchester home.
“I have learnt very, very little English – it’s very hard. Just ‘tomorrow’, ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and a little more," Nolito admitted in an interview with Spanish radio station El Transistor. "My daughter’s face has changed colour – it looks like she’s been living in a cave."
Unsurprisingly, Nolito jumped at the chance to return to Spain with Sevilla the following summer, signing a three-year contract with the La Liga club. Let’s hope he’s enjoying the sun.
Andrea Ranocchia (Hull)
Ranocchia joined Hull on loan in January 2017 and went on to form a promising partnership with Harry McGuire in the centre of defence as the Tigers made a late – but ultimately unsuccessful – surge for safety under the management of Marco Silva. The Italian stopper struggled with the customs of his new country, though, and was happy to admit that he sorely missed his home comforts.
“On the first day alone I went the wrong way down two crossings," Ranocchia sniffed. "I've already scraped the rims on my car wheels on the pavements. I really miss pasta, too.” The defender clearly wasn’t a fan of the Yorkshire pudding, then.
Brian Laudrup (Milan/Fiorentina/Chelsea)
In 1994, Walter Smith drove Laudrup to a hotel in Loch Lomond to try and convince the Denmark international that Rangers was the place to be. He needn’t have bothered.
“I spoke to Walter and said, 'before you read anything in the papers I've just had an offer from Barcelona and I've turned it down'," Laudrup later explained. "He didn't say anything for a minute and then he said, 'So you'd prefer to play Falkirk on a Tuesday night?' I said, 'Yeah, I love it' and he laughed and shook my hand."
Laudrup later won the European Cup and Serie A at Milan, yet he “never felt part of that team”. At Fiorentina, meanwhile, he noted that foreign players were blamed when things went wrong. London was also an adventure he regretted: after signing for Chelsea in 1998, the midfielder tried to get out of the contract. Glasgow really was his spiritual home.
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