"Have we got the receipt anywhere?"
The summer is a time for optimism among football supporters, who invariably predict future success for virtually every new signing their club makes. Sadly, things don’t always turn out as hoped.
In this slideshow we pick out the 15 worst signings of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign...
15. Kenedy (Newcastle, loan)
Newcastle’s form in the second half of last season lifted them out of the relegation dogfight and into the sanctuary of mid-table, with the January signings of Kenedy and Martin Dubravka a key reason for the turnaround.
The Magpies recaptured the Brazilian on a season-long loan from Chelsea last summer, but he’s failed to reproduce the form he showed in early 2018. Things started badly when he missed a last-minute penalty after a poor all-round performance against Cardiff in August, and his negligible influence in the months that followed mean he hasn’t even started a Premier League game since December.
14. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton, £17m)
Chris Hughton has largely kept faith with the core group of players who won promotion with Brighton in 2016/17, and Jahanbakhsh is among the new recruits who’ve failed to nail down a place in the side. The Iranian clearly hasn’t done enough to force his way into Hughton’s thinking, and as such he’s been restricted to just six league starts.
That’s a shame for both player and club, with Jahanbakhsh having hitherto failed to live up to his club-record £17m transfer fee. After scoring 21 Eredivisie goals for AZ last time out, Albion fans would have been expecting much more from him this season.
13. Ramadan Sobhi (Huddersfield, £5.7m)
After Huddersfield scored a league-low 28 goals last term, David Wagner correctly identified that he needed to bolster his attacking options if the Terriers were to last a third season. Sobhi was duly acquired from relegated Stoke, but it soon became clear that the Egyptian winger wasn’t the answer.
Wagner had seen enough after just four substitute appearances totalling 75 minutes, and shipped Sobhi off to Al Ahly on loan in December. A permanent exit this summer seems likely, although Town may struggle to recoup the £5.7m they paid Stoke for his services.
12. Yerry Mina (Everton, £27.2m)
Mina may have failed to convince Barcelona that he was their long-term answer at centre-back, but he still seemed to represent a good signing for an Everton team looking to push the top six close this season. Instead, the giant Colombian has looked out-of-sorts for much of the campaign, which has admittedly been disrupted by a string of injuries.
The 24-year-old has turned in one or two convincing performances for the Toffees, but he’s also looked slow on the turn and has been caught out by opposition strikers on several occasions. As things stand, Mina hasn’t proven to be worth £27.2m.
11. Jean Seri (Fulham, £30m with Maxime Le Marchand)
Given that he came close to joining Barcelona in summer 2017, it’s no surprise that Fulham fans were hugely excited by Seri’s arrival at Craven Cottage. His signing supposedly represented the fierce ambition which would propel the west Londoners into mid-table, but both he and the Cottagers have failed to live up to expectations.
Seri hasn’t been a total disaster, but he certainly hasn’t looked like a midfielder capable of gracing the Champions League. Fulham fans won’t be particularly sorry to see the back of him this summer.
10. Matej Vydra (Burnley, £11m)
It may be small change to the Premier League’s elite, but £11m is still a lot of money for a club like Burnley. Vydra always looked like something of a gamble at such a fee – he didn’t make much of an impact in previous Premier League postings at Watford and West Brom – and so it’s proven with one goal in 11 top-flight appearances this term.
Sean Dyche was so unconvinced by the Czech Republic international that he went out and signed a 37-year-old Peter Crouch as cover for Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood in January.
9. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Arsenal, free)
At the time, snapping up Lichtsteiner on a free transfer looked like a wise move from Arsenal. The Gunners have long lacked experienced leaders who have been around the block, which was precisely what they were getting in a man who seven Serie A titles at former club Juventus.
Lichtsteiner has struggled badly in the Premier League, though, frequently looking off the pace against the division’s wide men. His display in the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City was one of the worst individual performances of the season so far.
8. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Southampton, £16 million)
Perhaps, in Elyounoussi’s defence, the circumstances make him seem a worse signing than he actually is. The Norwegian winger’s return of no goals and no assists would always be disappointing and, should Southampton be relegated, his barren year would rank as a reason.
The most damning part is that he came in to replace Dusan Tadic, who’s scored 29 goals for Ajax and ejected Real Madrid from the Champions League with an astonishing display at the Santiago Bernabeu.
7. Jack Wilshere (West Ham, free)
Players of Wilshere’s calibre, Manuel Pellegrini said in December, could have cost West Ham £100 million. A free transfer still feels like money wasted, especially on a lucrative three-year contract.
If Wilshere’s injuries have been both sad and predictable, perhaps the greater problem was what happened when he was fit: West Ham lost all four games he started and he and Mark Noble looked incompatible as a duo. Declan Rice came into the team when Wilshere dropped out, camouflaging how bad a signing he was and engineering a recovery.
6. Fred (Manchester United, £52m)
Fred is United’s fourth most expensive signing of all time, and while that says as much about the current state of the market as it does about the player’s profile, the Brazilian has been a major disappointment this season.
He looked out of his depth in the early weeks of the season, and was then dropped by Jose Mourinho at the beginning of November. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handed him only two Premier League starts since the turn of the year, and those only came because of rotation and injuries elsewhere.
5. Maxime Le Marchand (Fulham, £30m with Jean Seri)
With the honourable exception of Calum Chambers, virtually all of Fulham’s defensive signings could be on this list. Individually and collectively, they have been disastrous.
If singling any one out is harsh, the numbers illustrate how damaging Le Marchand’s effect has been, either at left-back or centre-back. The Frenchman played in the embarrassing FA Cup defeat by League Two Oldham. Fulham concede 1.84 league goals per game when Le Marchand doesn’t start; if that’s bad enough, they let in an average of 2.55 when he does.
4. Adama Diakhaby (Huddersfield, £9m)
Given Monaco’s recent track record at developing and honing young talent, Huddersfield fans had every right to be excited by their club’s purchase of Diakhaby from the Ligue 1 side last summer. The 22-year-old was directly involved in five goals despite only making 10 league starts for Monaco in 2017/18, and it was anticipated that he would slot straight into the Terriers’ XI.
Things haven’t quite gone to plan, however: Diakhaby hasn’t scored a single goal or provided an assist in his 11 top-flight outings for Town, who won’t be a top-flight team for much longer.
3. Joe Hart (Burnley, £3.5m)
Hart has conceded more Premier League goals this season than Mat Ryan and Martin Dubravka. Which would not be worrying in itself, but for one fact: he hasn’t played in 2019.
The former Manchester City glovesman conceded 41 in 19 games, of which Burnley won three and took just 12 points. If his signing was a surprise, as Burnley already had two England goalkeepers on the books, it felt all the more unnecessary when the Clarets jolted back to form soon after dropping Hart for Tom Heaton.
2. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea, £71.6m)
Arrizabalaga can’t be blamed for the world-record fee for a goalkeeper. That isn’t his fault. Yet it may be his fault Chelsea didn’t win the Carabao Cup, with his display of insubordination denying penalty specialist Willy Caballero the chance to come on for the shootout.
And young as the Spaniard is, he looks a downgrade on Thibaut Courtois. When Chelsea concede, it’s often tempting to wonder if the Belgian would have saved those shots. The jury remains out.
1. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (£30m)
The symbol of a £100m spending spree gone horribly wrong. Fulham will set a record for a relegated club’s expenditure. Anguissa is their most expensive purchase, a defensive midfielder who has often been left out so centre-back Calum Chambers can play in the engine room instead.
While Jean Seri at least had the pedigree and admirers to explain his fee, it’s hard to say what Fulham saw in Anguissa. They have not even taken a point in a game when he has played since September 1.
Premier League, Lists, Joe Hart, Kepa Arrizabalaga Revuelta, Jack Wilshere, Kenedy, Matěj Vydra, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Yerry Mina, Jean Seri, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Fred, Maxime Le Marchand, Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Chelsea, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton, Fulham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Southampton