Here are the 10 worst Premier League signings from last summer’s transfer window. They are in no particular order. Is there anyone who you think should be on the list? Do you think anyone has been unjustly included? Let me know, comment at the end of the article or on Twitter, @bewareflyingfb
Following two frustrating years mainly out of the team at the Etihad the former England U21 international was hoping to make up for lost time moving to the north east to join Sunderland. Coming through the ranks at Everton Rodwell was seen as the brightest prospect since Wayne Rooney. However Goodison Park was only to see glimpses of his potential; goals against Manchester United were tempered with long and numerous spells on the side-lines. One criticism from the Everton fans was that despite Rodwell’s strong frame he was too nice and didn’t impose himself on opponents. When big spending City came in with a £12m offer Everton decided to cash in. Trying to break into a team which had just won the league and contained Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry proved too much for Rodwell. So after 2 years at the Etihad a new chapter of his career began at Sunderland. Although appearing regularly in the team the midfielder struggled to make as much impact as early promise at Everton suggested. This may be also as Sunderland have been poor this season struggling to build on last season’s great escape and producing lethargic performances with a lack of goals and a couple of embarrassing thrashings at Southampton and at home to Aston Villa. The latter cost Gus Poyet his job and with experienced Dutchman Dick Advocaat appointed to the end of the season it will be interesting to see how Rodwell figures in his plans. It would certainly be disappointed to see a player who possesses so much ability not fulfil his potential.
Newcastle United has a fine tradition of centre forwards from Jackie Milburn, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and Andy Carroll. The hope was Emmanuel Rivière would become the new favourite of the St James’ Park faithful and fill the void left since Demba Ba signed for Chelsea. The Frenchman came with a good reputation from his homeland however the move hasn’t paid off especially considering the £5m price tag. With no goals in the Premier League he hasn’t justified his place in the first team. He hasn’t been helped by the emergence of young forward Perez, who enjoyed an extended spell in the team during their remarkable winning run in October and Papiss Cisse, who has scored 11 league goals despite only starting 19 games. However with the Senegalese forward banned for seven matches for spitting at Manchester United’s Jonny Evans it could be the chance Rivière has been waiting for. With a new manager coming in the summer, potentially countryman Remi Garde, Rivière will be out to impress.
Making the move into the Premier League by signing for newly promoted Burnley it was hoped Sordell would be able to fill the void left by injured frontman Sam Vokes. Sordell made the step up from the Championship from Bolton Wanderers, having spent last season on loan at Charlton. For both clubs the forward was unable to recapture the prolific form he showed coming through the ranks at Watford. The former England Under 21 international hasn’t troubled the score sheet this season and has found appearances hard to come by. At the start of the season Burnley struggled to score let alone win which would have made it more difficult for new players coming into the squad. Results did start to pick up to coincide with the form of Danny Ings in November but in Sean Dyche’s 4-4-2 formation the partner to the soon to be departing Ings has been Ashley Barnes. With Vokes now returning from injury it looks like Sordell has found himself as 4th choice striker at Turf Moor. If the Clarets return to the Championship it may be a level the forward would be more comfortable with.
Stephen Caulker impressed in a Cardiff side which was eventually relegated from the Premier League last season. QPR and Crystal Palace were both interested in acquiring the young centre half’s services. Caulker made the choice of moving to Loftus Road citing the opportunity of playing with the experienced Richard Dunne and Rio Ferdinand. The former Spurs man started the season in a back three with the aforementioned veterans under the guidance of Harry Redknapp and Glenn Hoddle, bought in as a coach specifically to assist in the formation change. However following poor results the system was quickly dropped. In the past couple of seasons in South Wales, with Swansea then Cardiff, Caulker had established himself as a brave and resilient defender with leadership qualities which saw him take the captain’s armband in his only season with the Bluebirds. However this season he has looked clumsy and exposed, even emulating Dunne with an own goal against Liverpool. With an atrocious away record and a tough run in QPR look destined for a return to the Championship. Whether Caulker will be in as high demand as last summer remains to be seen.
Michel Vorm swapped the relative security of a place in the first team at Swansea for a move to Tottenham to challenge Hugo Lloris for the No. 1. It hasn’t worked out as the Dutchman had hoped with Lloris maintaining his form as one of the League’s top stoppers. Vorm has had to settle for a regular spot on the bench with only sporadic appearances in the cup competitions. He hasn’t been able to make the most of these few opportunities with a lack of action perhaps contributed a costly error against Leicester City which saw Spurs dumped out of the cup. As a free transfer it was a good piece of business for Spurs with Vorm, a Dutch international providing experienced back up to Lloris. However for the former Swansea keeper he may have preferred to prolong his stay at the Liberty Stadium as the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It remains to be seen how long the 30 year old will bide his time at White Hart Lane and begin to look for a fresh start elsewhere.
In the summer Ince was one of the hottest players on the market having run down his contract at Championship side Blackpool. A loan move to Crystal Palace in the second half of last season didn’t provide the winger with regular time on the pitch. His mercurial talent wasn’t suited to Tony Pulis’ regimented style and Palace didn’t take up the option of making his temporary spell more permanent. It was still believed that Ince would be able to make the step up having started his career at Liverpool. It looked like his next move could have been to another of his father Paul’s former sides Inter Milan. Despite heading to Italy for talks with the European giants hierarchy one of the summers most interesting transfers didn’t come to fruition. As it was Ince made the move to Hull City, managed by one of his father’s former teammate, Steve Bruce. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make the impact which made him one of the brightest talents outside the Premier League. He is now starring for Championship side Derby County on loan with 6 goals in 11 games. Potentially getting promoted to the Premier League may be the best way to establish himself in the top flight of English football. At 23 he has informed England Under 21 Manager Gareth Southgate that he doesn’t want to be considered for the forthcoming European Championships this summer. His international manager has warned the winger of the potential consequences of snubbing his national team but it feels that Tom’s decisions are being strongly influenced by his father.
The experienced former England midfielder joined on a free transfer apparently turning down more lucrative offers from abroad to remain in the Premier League. The former West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder has been unable to recapture his most creative form; in a team lacking goals Cole hasn’t been able to provide any assist for his teammates and has so far only scored one goal. Following Paul Lambert’s sacking and the appointment of Tim Sherwood it remains to be seen how Cole will fit into the new manager’s plans. Of the 10 matches he has been involved in the midfielder has only been on the winning side 3 times. With one year left on his contract Cole will have a decision to make in the summer as he comes towards the twilight of his career.
Mauro Zarate was signed by West Ham under the instructions of the board to provide more flair to Big Sam’s forward line. The side did have a new look which produced more attacking football, however it was fellow new signings Enner Valencia and Sakho who made an immediate impact. Zarate couldn’t force his way into the team with Stewart Downing revelling in the number 10 role. After only 11 appearances, many from the bench Zarate was offloaded to QPR. This was almost short lived when Redknapp decided he’d prefer Matt Jarvis at Loftus Road. In the mix up this also involved Carlton Cole potentially moving to West Brom. However Premier League rules state clubs can’t have more than one players on loan from the same club, so the Argentinian remained at Loftus Road for now knowing the club weren’t impressed following his move. An injury crisis in the striking department meant Allardyce had to sign Nenê on a free transfer. Zarate is a player who can produce flashes of brilliance, as seen early in his career at Birmingham City however it seems he wasn’t the right man for the manager at West Ham.
The big Greek striker returned to England, where he previously had a spell at Manchester City, before the oil money arrived. Although never prolific North of the border Samaras didn’t trouble the scoreboard at the Hawthorns. Struggling with the emergence of young forward Saido Berahino, the former Celtic man had to make do with a place on the bench. With only 5 appearances to his name and Alan Irvine, the manager who signed him dismissed before the new year, Samaras’s opportunities looked like drying up. With Tony Pulis hoping to bring in his own players in the January transfer window the veteran striker was moved on, signing on loan with Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal. Brown Ideye, another Irvine signing who looked to be making a swift exit, was able to turn his West Brom career around however it never looked like the same could be said for the Greek international.
Hatem Ben Arfa
The fact that Ben Arfa has talent has never been in doubt. It is has temperament which has so often let him down. Steve Bruce hoped a season-long loan to Hull City from Newcastle United would bring out the best in the enigmatic Frenchman. However as is so often the case Ben Arfa found himself on the side-lines following a difference of opinions with Bruce. A swift return to St James’ Park wasn’t on the cards either with then Toon manager Alan Pardew saying the midfielder wouldn’t be returning. A return to his homeland with a loan move to Nice was clouded in controversy with FIFA saying he wouldn’t be able to play for the French side having already appeared for Newcastle and Hull this season. Rumours claimed Ben Arfa considered retirement from the game altogether following the latest setback. It remains to be seen where he will go next and how long he will stay for.