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October 2016
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The transfer debate: just a few of the transfers that were utter disasters

By Tony Attwood

While day by day Sir Hardly Anyone brings us the ever growing list of all the players who are about to join Arsenal (but never will), and all those who are about to leave (but likewise never will), so I’ve been gathering to great list of all these tales together in the Arsenal Transfer Index   If things go on like this we are only a couple of weeks away from

a) Over 100 players preparing to join Arsenal

b) More players leaving Arsenal than are actually here to begin with.

But in the background I have also been trying to argue that both the major premises of the junk press (that we need a new striker and that you can measure a club’s success by the amount it spends on transfers) is faulty.  While also pointing out that Arsenal has not been wholly inactive in the field of player retention.

So we have seen that transfers of big money players often don’t work, that transfers can cause harm to a club, that the amount spent is not an indicator of where a club will end up in the league etc etc

In case you missed anything here are some of the recent articles.

Proving that neither transfers nor buying a top goalscorer are the way to win the league

Arsenal have increased their player salaries more than any other PL club in last 3 years.

Why big name transfer window signings are more likely to flop than succeed

How much did the Arsenal squad actually cost and did we get value for money?

So what else is there to say?  Surely we have covered everything?

Apparently not because I am still getting lots of emails telling me that if I can’t see that a new player is needed at [insert a position] I am an idiot.  That claim might well be true – I don’t think I’ve ever said I am not an idiot, and indeed to spend as many hours a day on Untold as I do must give most people pause for thought on the issue.

But at least I don’t call people names, I don’t send in emails to a site I disagree with, using a fake email address, and I don’t assign quotations to Einstein without bothering to check that they are valid first.

So I keep going, despite the abuse rolling in, and here it is – a list of some of the worst purchases of players.

But let me say this is not in anyway my list of all time worst – it is a random selection from my memory.  And having done this quick list of 20 or so, I then did a search and within seconds found hundreds of others many of which had me thinking, “oh yes… him”.  Once the memory starts going, it never stops with a list like this.

Some of these players were clearly no good, some were good for a while but went off the boil, and others were decent players but ended up completely in the wrong team.

The fact is that many, many players do go wrong, either because they get injuries, or their head gets far too big for their bodies, or they start believing that God is talking to them directly, or because they come under the wrong manager who having bought or loaned a player, turns out to be a loonie (that’s the manager not the player).

Thus this is just a few from the lower layers of my mind.   I’ve even managed to include some Arsenal players so no one thinks I am trying to make out that Arsenal never make mistakes.

  • Emmanuel Adebayor – Tottenham.  Cost Arsenal £3m, sold for around £25m to Man City.  Eventually cost Tottenham £5 after being on loan, but then they found they couldn’t get rid of him and had to keep paying his salary.
  • Alberto Aquilani – Liverpool, £20 million.  18 games.  Eventually sold for €790,000
  • Yohan Benalouane.  Leicester £5m.  No starts.  four year contract
  • David Bentley. Tottenham Hotspur seemed very happy to have got a player that Arsenal let slip away, for just £15m.  The new Beckham.        
  • Jean-Alain Boumsong   Rangers to Newcastle United; £8m, 2005.  Started ok but declined quickly and went off to the second division in Italy.
  • Andreas Cornelius – Cardiff, £7.5 million – 8 games.  Sold back from when he came for around £250,000
  • Stewart Downing  Liverpool.  Cost £20m and didn’t score or assist.
  • Radamel Falcao,  Chelsea.   “Radamel Falcao will leave Premier League a rich man with a broken reputation after two years, five goals… and £22m in wages”.  Daily Mail
  • Serge Gnabry loan to WBA 12 minutes.  I actually think he is, or maybe was, a great player – but what is the point of taking a player on loan just to insult him?
  • Francis Jeffers   Everton to Arsenal; £8m, 2001.  Well you know the rest.  One of Mr Wenger’s failures, even I would admit.
  • Robbie Keane  Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool; £20.3m, 2009.  Played 19 games.
  • Per Kroldrup – Everton, £5 million.  He got one game.
  • Alexandre Pato loan to Chelsea.  After a season with only two appearances but a decent salary, he left.
  • Alex Pritchard loan to WBA 62 minutes
  • Roque Santa Cruz – Manchester City, £17.5 million.  20 games.  Sold back to Blackburn for around £3m
  • Gökhan Inler  Leicester £5m.  3 starts, but still at the club on a 3 year contract.
  • Micah Richards went to Aston Villa on a four year deal.
  • Massimo Taibi – Manchester United £4.5 million.  4 games
  • Adama Traoré  £7m to Aston Villa from Barcelona.  Played  nine times.On 14 August 2015.  Barcelona had a buy back clause as well I think.
  • Juan Sebastian Veron – Chelsea, £15 million.  7 games.  One of the classics to end with.

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15 comments to The transfer debate: just a few of the transfers that were utter disasters

  • Leon

    You’ve opened a can of worms here Tony. I won’t go into names, but can’t think of any who came to Arsenal that cost astronomical amounts. None that were not re-saleable (even at a loss) & none that were likely to put us in debt over transfer fee & wages.
    Sure we’ve had our share of flops, but overall I think we’ve done pretty well on transfers.

  • Gord

    Congratulations to Aaron Ramsey for making UEFA 2016 XI.

    I gathered something like that had been done, due to a twit lacking data at

  • Leon

    Striker signing of the day: Adebayo Akinfenwa to Wycombe Wanderers. Looks like we’ve missed out once again

  • Josif

    Ten worst I can think of:

    1.Andrey Shevchenko (Milan to Chelsea) – easily the best striker in Champions League at his prime, found himself at the team against the wish of the manager but at the request of the owner. He never put himself together afterwards as his unsuccessful second spell at Milan proved. 30.8 million pounds for him were basically wasted.

    2.Kaka'(Milan to Real Madrid) – there was a rumour that Milan have the best laboratory in the world and that they simply know when a player is done. Kaka was the record purchase for Real but never lived up to expectations given he had been the best in the world while at Milan. 29 goals and 32 assists in 120 games are not good enough for a player paid almost 70 million euros.

    3.Gaitzka Mendieta (Valencia to Lazio) – maybe the worst transfer ever. Mendieta had led Valencia to consecutive CL finals before he was signed by Lazio to replace Juan Sebastian Veron. He didn’t just fail to fill Veron’s boots, he got Lazio in all kind of troubles with Valencia. Valencia negotiated a clause that restricted Lazio from selling Mendieta to Spanish clubs in two-year time. Financial troubles and poor form forced Lazio to breach the clause as Mendieta signed for Barca before the clause expired. He failed to score a single goal in 27 games and Lazio paid 48 million euros to get him. Maybe the worst transfer ever on the long run.

    4.Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Celtic to Norwich) – a single goal from the record signing meant Norwich went down due to lack of fire-power.

    5.Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit (Arsenal to Barcelona) – Barcelona had gone through similar attempt to replace a superstar lost to Real Madrid with the whole constellation over a decade before Spuds did it with Bale. It didn’t pan out well as a lot of money from Figo’s transfer ended up in North London for a poor return from both Overmars and Petit. The Dutchman was haunted by injuries and Petit could never repeat his performances from his cooperation with Patrick Vieira.

    6.Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi (Standard Liege and Valencia to Manchester City) – City spent over 80 million pounds to sign a pair of central defenders who can’t defend. This is No.6 on the list and again, it was an example of a player/the players failing to find feet in a new league.

    7.Anderson (Porto to Manchester United) – I think nobody have understood the purpose of Anderson. 20 million pounds should get you a much better player.

    8.Stewart Downing (Aston Villa to Liverpool) – I have to pick this one from Tony’s list. Again, 20 millions for literally nothing.

    9.Roberto Soldado (Valencia to Tottenham) – 26 million pounds and you can’t hit double digits in two seasons combined. People from a certain statistical web-site made a prediction that Soldado would flop at Tottenham based on the data from his successful season at Valencia. They were absolutely right even if simple: “He’ll flop because he joined Tottenham” would have been enough.

    10.Andy Carroll (Newcastle to Liverpool)- 35 million pounds for a player with a decent half-season? Really?

  • Gord

    Firing too early.

    Apparently Opta has their own EURO 2016 top list, with both Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil named. Congratualations.

    Gord (diacritically disabled)

  • tunnygriffboy

    Does everyone on here agree we need a striker to compete with Giroud or be good enough to rotate with him so he can have a rest ?

    Do people feel we need another CB on the basis that Mert is struggling to play a high line and is the wrong side of thirty ? That Kos is 30+ had a few niggling injuries last season and has played every minute of the Euros, the final with a strapped knee ? That Chambers whilst a good prospect still needs more experience before playing in big games ?

  • Menace

    Amazing how the media select the UK government. Another coup by Murdoch’s press destroys competition.

    Any doubt that this same bunch of dishonest hacks can destroy a football club?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I believe Arsenal need to sign a regular top goals scoring striker to give Olivier Giroud a good competition for his money as option and cover. The Boss knows this. That why he bidded for Jamie Vardy.

    Arsenal have 3 versatile box to box players in Aaron Ramsey, Elneny & Xhaka. And have 1 deep-lying in Cazorla and a DMF Coquelin. But what role will be assigned to Jack Wilshere? I wouldn’t know, maybe a central attacking midfielder (CAMF). But we still need a cover in the team for that role since Ozil is the playmaker. I think the Boss can do with another signing for the CAMF role as option & cover.

    We would need a top top center half-back signing because Rhinosacker is aging and becoming slower and slower.And although Koscielny too is aging but he has shown he’s still dependable with his performances for France at the recently concluded Euro’16. And would De Abreu stop being erratic in his defensive works for Arsesal in this coming season? Only God can say.

    We also will do with a 6 footer, big, pacy and strong left back signing as Monreal is aging and can’t take on defenders in the opponent’s box and beat them to size up the goalkeeper. He can cross alright, but most of his crossings are futile. Would Gibbs have a stella season for Arsenal? Age is still on his side but he’s too one side footed.

    It’s not that I am following the media’s Arsenal must sign players takes. But we all watched Arsenal last season and these shortcomings were clearingly seen by us.. Therefore, to counter Jose Mourinho’s ambition to win the title this coming season. The Boss MUST put Arsenal in a state of readiness to counter any threat from Jose Mourinho to derail Arsenal quest to unfailingly capture the Barclays Premier League title this coming season by to still sign a marquee Striker, a CAMF, a top class CHB and a top class LB in my humble opinion. Thanks.

  • tunnygriffboy


    Good points. In my opinion we firstly need a striker to help Giroud out. Walcott didn’t convince me last season

    We need a CB to cover Mert and Kos who looked shattered physically and emotionally last night. I love him but he will need a rest. Similarly I like Chambers but he could do with a loan to get regular game time atCB

    Regards cover for Ozil I think those options are covered asRamsey, Wilshere, Santi and Iwobi could play there.

    We will no doubt need a LB in due course but Nacho looks fit and has improved immeasurably and Gibbs is as good a 2nd choice LB as there is in the league.

  • lee

    Everyone of tonys followers.Take a look at his blog on Man City.At last you have been found out.Not only have you double standards on copy and pasting others storys from other sites but for years you have censored this site to allow only followers who are prepared to kiss your arse and follow some of your brainwashed theorys!!!,

  • Jambug


    Even though I disagree with Tony, and others on here on certain points, I beg to differ regarding your accusation of censorship.

    The reason I, and many many others come to this site is because we have something in common, and it’s pronounced loud and clear in the strap line at the top of the page and it says:

    “Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News; Supporting the club, the players and the manager”

    That doesn’t mean we think everything that the board, Arsenal and Wenger do is perfect.

    Far from it.

    But what we don’t do is go into meltdown every time we don’t win a match or buy a player.

    Just look at the fall out every time we don’t hammer a team. Even just winning is often as not considered just ‘not good enough’ for some.

    The level of condemnation and abuse aimed at Arsenal, and Wenger in particular, is beyond ridiculous.

    But not here. That is why I come here. To get away from all that shit. It’s not that people are not entitled to those views. They are. But why come here? There are plenty of other sites for fans with such views to vent there spleen. What do they think they are going to do, somehow convert us? Thanks very much but I don’t want converting.

    Personally I don’t think Tony and the team censor ENOUGH.

    When we have a bad day, and of course I’m not stupid, I know we have plenty of them, I don’t want to here Wenger’s shite, Gerioud’s shite, the board are shite, the grass is shite blah blah blah.

    We had a bad day FFS. The World hasn’t ended.

    I just want to talk about it. What went wrong? Why? Did Wenger make a tactical mistake? Did Ozil have a bad day? Did the opposition just have a good day? Just a talk.

    But sometimes that’s just impossible.

    The bile and the vitriol that is spewed out by some people is just beyond belief. For example have a look at some of the comments following the draw at West Ham. And these people are supposed to be fans.

    That day I stopped reading UA for a while because the level of abuse was just beyond the pale. I come here for a reasoned debate not read people simply going into abusive meltdown.

    As I say, there’s plenty of other places that welcome that kind of abuse with open arms, so why here where it is basically not welcome? I don’t get it.

    Censorship you say? Yep and quite right too, I just wish there was more of it.

    To those that deride the censorship I say, okay, if you don’t like it just leave us to our delusions, and enjoy your orgy of hate some place else.

  • I do enjoy the debate on here but I find the insistence on avoiding buying players because of the risk that they don’t work out to be flawed.

    By your own work you declare that 14 of 53 big signings made an impact from day 1.
    (25 of 53 made no immediate impact but were more of a slow burn – whether they go on to succeed would be down to management and time, something you are normally pretty open to allowing).

    Therefore by your logic 26% of all big money signings are an immediate success.
    If you buy 0 players you fail to achieve even that level of success.

    It also fails to address why those players that fail are not a success. Surely if the player is scouted properly (or picked from the top of the premier league goalscorers chart, if you are as lazy as the Arsenal scouts) and then integrated by the manager into a system they suit and are then appropriately man-managed, then this rate of success should be much higher. I base this on the assumption that Arsene Wenger is a far superior manager to most others*.

    *past performance is no guarantee of future performance. You may lose your house if you do not keep up repayments.

  • Josif

    Ten worst Arsenal transfers in Wenger-era:

    1.Francis Jeffers (Everton to Arsenal) – it didn’t work well, to put it mildly. However, it’s easy to forget he was only 20 at the time he joined Arsenal, injuries and pressure on him were too much for his own sake.

    2.Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla to Arsenal) – I was really excited when a man who had helped AS Monaco to knock Real Madrid out of Champions League 2003-04 joined Arsenal. He was an experienced French defender and who could make better judgement on a French player than Mr Wenger? Well, Squizz wasn’t from that story. He was an absolute disaster and sat out most of the last year of his reported 3.2 million pounds per year worth contract.

    3.Mickael Silvestre (Manchester United to Arsenal) – another one that I was excited about until he actually started playing for us. He had a few good performances (against Manchester United in our league victory) but for most of the time you could see why Funguson had sold him. He also had guts to mock our lack of trophies since joining Emirates.

    4.Andre Santos (Gremio to Arsenal) – now, this one may look too harsh. After all, Santos actually produced two big goals for Arsenal in 2011-12 – an equalizer against Chelsea in our 5:3 victory and our second goal against West Brom in what was essentially a match worth of 30 million pounds or, to be more precise, a Champions League place. However, he didn’t look like he was fully committed to football in 2012-13 with his fitness issues and his shirt-swap with van Persie was an own goal. His performance against Schalke in a home defeat (0:2) was easily one of the worst ever.

    5.Chu-Young Park (AS Monaco to Arsenal) – again, a player that I was excited about as he was a set-piece master at Monaco. However, we got a single goal and nine minutes in the league from him, not to mention that we took the player in front of noses of SC Lille which is not a good way to make friends in the business world.

    6.Kaba Diawara (Bordeaux to Arsenal) – a striker who couldn’t score. He played for three English clubs including Arsenal and failed to score a single goal. Thanks to him I had my worst night ever as an Arsenal fan (Leeds away in 1998-99). I should have given him four places on this list.

    7.Manuel Almunia (Celta to Arsenal) – a rather inconsistent performer in a position where the margin for error is non-existing. He was beaten on his near post twice in Champions League Final 2006.

    8.Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle to Arsenal) – it is an example of how sometimes transfer’s success depend more on a string of circumstances than to a player/manager himself. We reportedly paid 12 million pounds – a lot of money for a 29-year-old full-back who has spent most of his spell at Arsenal in the treatment room (thanks to that Stoke thug), out of position, on a loan and on the bench (thanks to brilliant Bellerin).

    9.Gervinho (Lille to Arsenal) – he didn’t find his feet at Arsenal. I have to admit I had a lot of belief in him before his poor decisions on the pitch convinced me he was not good enough for Arsenal. Maybe he was a good player brought to Arsenal at the worst possible time – between Cesc and Özil who would have used his pace for through balls. His touch was too heavy for most of the time and his shots went from brilliant (he is still the last player to score against Chelsea at the Emirates) to bloody awful (his game against Norwich at the Emirates when he took the ball from Ramsey’s feet and lost it to open the counter-attack after which we conceded a goal).

    10.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton to Arsenal) – I can already see the torches and roars but if you let me explain… *ducks for cover*

    The Ox has been at Arsenal since 2011 and he doesn’t look like a better player than he was when he joined Arsenal. He still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the final product, positional awareness, composure and decisioning. At the age of 23, he can’t hide himself behind the age. True, injuries have been the biggest hurdle for his development but he doesn’t help himself with things like OxTV. He is yet to add consistency to his game even when he plays 30 games in the season. The fact Laurent Koscielny, a central defender, has scored more league goals than Ox since Ox has been at Arsenal should force the Englishman to think twice about his five years at Arsenal.

  • omgarsenal

    lee….see you’ve slithered on UA again. You posted this same shite in the previous article…..cut and paste king once again!