While this season’s Premier League has not left us down in terms of entertainment, there have been those who have not performed to their best or lived up to their billing.
It has been a record-breaking season in terms of spending with the combined payout of all Premier League sides for the summer and January transfer windows this season amounting to in excess of an eye-watering £950 million, according to Deloitte.
The report by the professional services firm also states that, despite Manchester United’s massive fees for the likes of Angel Di Maria, it was in fact Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City who spent the most, making up close to half of the entire combined spend by Premier League sides this season.
Number crunching aside, we’ve decided to get down to nitty gritty and look closely at this season’s transfers, who, for whatever reason, simply haven’t cut the mustard.
Here are this season’s top five transfer flops.
5. Danny Welbeck
Signed along with Alexis Sanchez last summer, one would have thought Welbeck would rise to the next level under Arsene Wenger. How wrong we were.
It’s difficult to defend Welbeck when it comes down to the cold hard stats. Albeit with an injury to contend with for the month of January, the 24-year-old has failed to score this side of Christmas.
Before New Year’s day he had notched up just four Premier League goals whilst his fellow new signing Alexis Sanchez ran riot in his debut Premier League campaign.
At a relatively small fee for a talented, homegrown youngster of just £16 million, Arsenal could yet see a turnaround in form from the young striker, but going on this season alone, he has to go down as the first in our top five flops.
4. Angel Di Maria
He started so brightly at Old Trafford but has since tailed away worse than Newcastle United. Although others in this list may have performed worse overall, Di Maria has tarnished his reputation the most.
Signing for a record fee of £59.7 million, the Argentinian had pressure on his shoulders from the beginning but during the business end of the season he has failed to perform. Talksport have also revealed this week that Di Maria’s name is the most printed of all players in the Premier League this season.
For this reason, the heights to which Di Maria have fallen from are that bit greater than his fellow flops.
When put in direct comparison with those around him in midfield, it is also clear that he has not been at his best, particularly in the second half of the season with Ander Herrera and Juan Mata taking up the mantle as midfield playmakers.
While United’s season has improved, Di Maria has been found wanting. Will he be found at Old Trafford next season? We will just have to wait and see.
3. Rickie Lambert
Liverpool’s strike-force has been woeful to say the least this season, with Steven Gerrard and his midfield counterparts making up for what those up top couldn’t manage.
Much of the brunt of the blame must land at Brendan Rodgers’ door. However, the fact is his signings up front have not provided him with enough confidence when selected. Lambert showed he has the talent for the top level with Southampton but has been placed in the shadows of his attacking midfield teammates this year.
The 33-year-old was always going to be a risk at his age, even more so than the risk associated with Mario Balotelli, however this does not excuse scoring just two goals in 24 league appearances.
His price tag of around £4 million makes him less of a flop in terms of cash but the hype which surrounded the England international means he must form part of this list.
2. Radamel Falcao
Although he is only on loan at Manchester United, Falcao’s reported £250,000-a-week contract is costing United heavily.
After a season in which he only converted six goals in all competitions as well as being bumped down to the under-21 squad, one finds it difficult to fathom why such huge funds should be put aside for the Colombian.
He has produced well below par what was expected when he first arrived in Manchester and even if his loan deal is extended he will be fighting for a place not only against Wayne Rooney but United’s other goalscoring threats, not least new signing Memphis Depay.
1. Mario Balotelli
It hasn’t been an ideal season by Liverpool by any stretch of the imagination but it has not been helped by some wayward performances by the Reds’ summer arrival. Rodgers’ immediate defence of his new signing; claiming Balotelli was a ‘calculated risk’ was perhaps a sign of the inefficiencies that were to come.
Much of the press surrounding Anfield at present is concerned with the Reds’ most revered son Steven Gerrard, but the captain also comes into focus when looking at the performance of the strikers ahead of him; all of which have left him down.
Gerrard is Liverpool’s top scorer. The Liverpudlian striker’s all fail to even come close. Yes, Rodgers has selected his attacking midfielders such as Raheem Sterling more often up top but it is a damning indictment of not only Balotelli, but also his teammates that he hasn’t managed to fight his way into the side.
At £16 million, Liverpool may have to cope with a sizeable loss should they decide to sell.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena