For the second year running, Premier League clubs had record levels of expenditure in the rush to deliver expensive new signings.
Once again, the two Manchester clubs led the way in terms of net spend as they looked to compete for the league title, while even the likes of Everton invested heavily in the hope of challenging for the Champions League places.
Some signings were a success – players such as Mo Salah, Pascal Gross and Ederson Moraes spring to mind – but some signings have not gone at all to plan.
Here, we look at those signings (in no particular order) that left buying clubs hoping that they’d kept the receipt.
Joe Hart (Manchester City – West Ham, Loan)
Including a loan player in this list might seem a bit harsh, but Hart’s spell at the London Stadium has been such a nightmare that he isn’t even assured of a spot in England’s World Cup squad anymore. He was dropped for Adrian midway through the campaign after a number of high-profile errors, and although he won his place back in the end, the Hammers are likely to send Hart back just as Torino did last season.
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid – Chelsea, £60m)
Chelsea had hoped that Morata would be more of a Diego Costa than a Fernando Torres after beating Man United to his signature, but that has not turned out to be the case. 15 goals in 46 games – not to mention a number of high-profile misses – is a poor return for such a highly-rated player that he has since lost his place in the starting eleven to perennial Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud.
Davy Klaassen (Ajax – Everton, £24m)
Hopes were high for Klaassen when Everton forked out £24m for the Ajax captain’s services, but the move has been an unmitigated disaster. Signed as part of a scattergun transfer policy that also saw the Toffees recruit Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney for similar positions, the 24-year-old has started just three league games all season and has seen a grand total of 16 minutes of competitive action since early December.
Guido Carrillo (Monaco – Southampton, £19m)
Southampton seemed to have developed an unfortunate habit of signing strikers just as their goalscoring form has deserted them. Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini have had poor campaigns, while Charlie Austin has suffered from injury problems. The signing of Carrillo from Monaco in January was supposed to alleviate the goalscoring burden of the team – but the 26-year-old has yet to find the net in any of the seven league games he has played this season.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco – Chelsea, £40m)
With Nemanja Matic being allowed to depart for Man United, Bakayoko was expected to fill the gap left by the Serbian midfielder. However, he arrived at Stamford Bridge injured and has been playing catch-up ever since. The player who dominated the Monaco midfield has been nowhere to be seen, and a particularly dire performance against Watford earlier this season is his most memorable contribution.
Michael Keane (Burnley – Everton, £25m)
That a sizable chunk of Everton’s summer signings from last season could be included in here tells its own story, but Keane has been a big disappointment since his arrival from Turf Moor. His second season at Goodison Park will hopefully see him improve, but the England international has looked nervous for much of this campaign. That Burnley have been thriving defensively in his absence hasn’t really helped matters either.
Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham – Stoke City, £18m)
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has often been praised for his transfer acumen, but even he must be wondering how he convinced Stoke to pay £18m for a defender that the club patently didn’t want to keep around. Wimmer hasn’t played for the club since January and has been training with the U23s since Paul Lambert took over. With just 14 Premier League starts to his name this year, Wimmer’s signing has been a terrible and costly one.
Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich – Swansea, Loan)
Another loan signing, but another disastrous one. Swansea raised eyebrows with the signging of Sanches, the hottest young property in Europe just twelve months previously. His arrival was supposed to herald in the new era under Paul Clement but it soon became patently obvious that he was not up to the relegation fight. A luxury player who often went missing, Nine league starts later, the 20-year-old will have to fulfil his potential somewhere else.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City – Leicester, £25m)
Iheanacho’s strong goal return despite rarely starting for Man City convinced many that Leicester were getting a bargain even at that price. However, the 21-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign in what has been another turbulent season at the King Power. With just two goals in six league starts this year, Foxes fans will be hoping for much better next year from such a highly-rated young striker.
Fernando Llorente (Swansea – Tottenham, £12m)
Chelsea might have two players on this list, but they dodged a bullet by missing out on Llorente. The 33-year-old is very much seen as Spurs’ Plan B, but even then he has underperformed this season. The former Swansea and Juventus man has just one league goal to his name this season – a poor return for the £12m investment.
Mo Salah (Roma – Liverpool, £36.9m)
Not really. Jesus, can you imagine?