The inaugural edition of our new series “Magnificent Seven” looks at these not so magnificent men – the 7 worst Premier League players of all time…
7. Afonso Alves (Middlesbrough 2008-2009)
It was the final day of the January transfer window in 2008 and Middlesbrough fans couldn’t believe their luck. The club had announced that a Brazilian international who scored goals for fun was joining. Alas, it wasn’t Ronaldo but instead Afonso Alves, the Eredivise top scorer who had scored 45 goals in 39 games for Heerenveen. And in the interests of fairness, his goal return of 6 in 11 league games in his first few months isn’t bad. However, the 2008-09 season highlighted the fact that scoring goals in Holland and scoring goals in England are two completely different challenges – and Alves wasn’t up to the English challenge. He managed 4 goals in the league as Middlesbrough went down and Alves went out of England, permanently. Add in the fact that he cost £8.5 million, then you can start to see why he’s on the list. He’s also on for this miss.
6. Maniche (Chelsea 2006)
When Portuguese international Maniche turned up at Stamford Bridge in January 2006, fans could be forgiven for being happy with the signing. After all, he was a key part of the Portugal side that reached the final of Euro 2004 (including scoring this goal) and the Porto side who, under Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, had won the Champions League in 2004. The problem was that Chelsea were not getting the 2004 Maniche but rather one that had not impressed in Russia with Dynamo Moscow and it showed. His debut set the tone for his spell. He was at fault for West Ham’s opening goal and then proceeded to get himself sent off. To cap it all off, he never even received a Premier League winners medal at the end of the season (he only played 8 times in the league instead of the required 10). Chelsea chose not take up the option to purchase him for a measly £5 million and that was the end of Maniche’s English adventure.
5. Antonio Núñez (Liverpool 2004-2005)
When Michael Owen departed Liverpool for the glitz and glamour of Real Madrid in 2004, many people were left shocked by the deal. Sadly, by the end of the 2004-05 season, the fact that Liverpool’s star striker was let go for £8 million was not the shocking part. Instead, it was the player Real sent to Merseyside as a makeweight who horrified the Reds fans – winger Antonio Núñez. It looked promising because after all, Antonio had played for the Real first team alongside Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo et al. Sadly, nobody can fathom how. His first day in England finished with Núñez out with a knee injury for 3 months. Once he got on the pitch though the Liverpool fans wished he was still injured. He looked off the pace constantly, incredibly weak and, worst of all, infuriatingly awful. He managed 27 appearances – mostly due to the fact that half of the regular eleven were injured most of the time – and scored 1 whole goal in the League Cup final (his one good game). He was allowed to leave Liverpool with his Champions League winners medal in hand at the end of the season but the memories linger for Liverpool fans.
4. Lee Dong-Gook (Middlesborough 2007-2008)
Dubbed “Lazy Genius” by South Korean fans, Lee Dong-Gook showcased his genius when it came to missing chances while with Boro. Signed for nothing (which still looks like too much), Lee was a highly rated goal scoring hero in his home country. Sadly for him, the K-League and Premier League are not on the same level and he struggled badly. 23 goalless league games later and he was gone from Teeside, followed by the sighs of relief from an infuriated Boro faithful. He was even voted the worst striker in Premier League in a Sportingo poll in February 2008, beating off the likes of Mido, Diomansy Kamara and Darius Vassell.
3. Sandor Torghelle (Crystal Palace 2004-2005)
Another import that flopped in the Premier League is Hungarian Torghelle, another goalless “wonder” in Premier League history. A full international, Torghelle’s one goal for the club came in the League Cup but it was soured by his late sending off. Torghelle was never a Premier League quality striker. He was not big and strong enough to be an out and out target man nor was he quick enough to get in behind the defence. Games passed him by and once Palace were relegated in 2005 he was shipped out immediately. A name Palace fans want to forget quickly.
2. Anthony Modeste (Blackburn 2012)
Blackburn fans hated Steve Kean and his reign as manager and the number 2 player on this list is a Steve Kean signing. Lower and mid table Premier League sides have long had a history of importing players from France with varying degrees of success. Modeste will probaly go down as the worst. A loan signing to take the pressure of Blackburn’s one goal scorer Yakubu, Modeste done absolutely nothing of use for the club. He played 5 times in the league without scoring, showing no threat to any defence and making you ponder what Steve Kean was thinking signing Modeste. His only real contribution was getting himself stupidly sent off when Blackburn needed 11 men on the field which sums up his contribution to the Premier League.
1. Bosko Balaban (Aston Villa 2001-2003)
Aston Villa spend £6 million on a Croatian striker whose only real experience is in the Croatian league. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, a lot. First, Balaban was rubbish. A striker who couldn’t actually score nor provide anything useful to the team, it became painfully obvious Balaban was not a £6 million player. Second, he never actually started a Premier League game. Not one. If that does not tell you how bad Balaban was then nothing will. This is a player who cost £6 million in 2001 and he never started a game. Needless to say, Villa fans were never enamoured with Bosko and neither was the club. Sure enough, once the season finished he was off back to Croatia, never to be seen again, thankfully for Villa fans, anywhere near Villa Park.
This is, of course, a list based on personal opinion. If you would like to share your worst Premier League players then please feel free to either in the comments section or over on Twitter (check the bar on the right).
Hopefully you enjoyed it and send in your suggestions for future topics for the series.