The Premier League is awash with cash – but by no means do teams get every signing right. Now, with the book closed on another season, it’s time to look back on which summer signings flopped or fired.
Decisions are based on relative cost, how important he proved to his side and individual quality. Below we’ve picked out the best five buys of the Premier League campaign – for the best five, click here.
5. Naby Keita (Liverpool) Signed from RB Leipzig, £53m
Full disclosure – this is a controversial pick. Keita has struggled through injuries this season and found a fair lick of form before a groin injury finally put paid to a disappointing year earlier this month.
However, for a man who arrived in Liverpool as a supposedly transformative figure for the Reds’ midfield, the Guinean has been seriously underwhelming. There was nothing he couldn’t do for former club RB Leipzig – a goalscoring, playmaking dynamo with a V8 engine. Even at £53m, some quarters viewed it as a snip.
In nearly 1,400 Premier League minutes the 24-year-old mustered two goals and one assist. In a dominant team who are nonetheless crying out for ingenuity from midfield, Keita has metaphorically missed an open goal.
He’s at a crossroads heading into season two – but no doubt the potential is there.
4. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton) Signed from AZ Alkmaar, £17m
An inability to extract almost anything from Brighton’s summer signings led to Chris Hughton’s sacking, and no one precipitated that downfall quite like the hapless Jahanbakhsh.
Signed to some fanfare after hitting 21 goals the previous season in the Eredivisie for Alkmaar, the Iranian’s Premier League statline reads as follows: 19 games, zero goals, zero assists.
For a winger who’s supposed to be creative, he managed five key passes all season (according to whoscored.com). For a player who’s supposed to be pacy, he completed 11 successful dribbles, four of which came in the same game. The only reason he is not higher on the list is that the Seagulls didn’t quite break the bank for him, although £17m is still a big chunk of change for them.
3. Riyad Mahrez (Man City) Signed from Leicester, £60m
Manchester City are almost perfect. Almost. But their recruitment of Mahrez was a severe flaw in what had been a rather pristine recruitment policy on the way to Premier League dominance.
Mahrez’s ineffectivness this season hasn’t necessarily been the Algerian’s fault. Sure, his penalty against Liverpool in October is now orbiting Jupiter, but it shows how desperate he was to make his mark and establish himself as a first-choice.
There was never any chance of a consistent run of games, however. Not even Leroy Sane – who has scored 39 goals in three seasons for City – is a sure-fire starter.
It would have made far more sense to hand new Real Madrid teenager Brahim Diaz the tastes of the first-team that Mahrez has been left dissatisfied with, saving £60m in the process.
2. Jean Michael Seri (Fulham) Signed from Nice, £27m
It seems aeons ago now, but once upon a time Barcelona were keen admirers of Seri. Now Barca are plotting a route to an elusive Champions League trophy with Dutch wonderkid Frenkie de Jong and Seri is plotting a route out of relegated Fulham.
He may had other suitors, but you could see the allure of Fulham for Seri. London-based, ambitious club playing attractive football. Lots of cash for wages.
In the end, the Ivory Coast international barely earned a penny of it as he chipped in with a solitary goal and two assists in a season where he looked embarrassingly lightweight as a Premier League player.
The former Nice midfielder is reportedly shuffling back to Ligue 1 with Monaco. Still, he’ll always have that screamer against Burnley. It was looking so good back in August …
1. Fred (Man United) Signed from Shakhtar Donetsk, £53m
On to another midfielder emblematic of a failed campaign, multiplied by a million. Fred was the only signing Manchester United made last summer that was expected to slot straight into the first-team, yet he ended up being a square peg for a squad containing many, many holes.
The Brazilian is certainly not the cause of all of United’s ills, but he showed next-to-no improvement over the course of the season.
Indeed he was so poor that Scott McTominay, who at this point is nothing more than a solid young player, deservedly kept him out of the side.
Fred is a do-it-all midfielder with Shakhtar Donetsk turned Doctor Do-little at United. The 25-year-old struggles to retain possession, is constantly out of position, is liable to trip over his own feet and is a non-entity in attack.
Paul Pogba has had his shambolic moments, but if this is the type of player he has to work with, how much can he be truly blamed?