Which player joined a Premier League club last summer with hope in their heart, only to see it all slip sadly away?
Arsenal: Sead Kolasinac
Arsenal only signed two players last summer, and it hasn’t gone brilliantly for either. Alexandre Lacazette now faces a battle to remain in Arsene Wenger’s first-choice team, while Kolasinac (who had threatened to become a cult hero) must wonder quite what he has done wrong. Arsenal’s left-back heir apparent is yet to start a league game in 2018.
Bournemouth: Jermain Defoe
Defoe’s broken ankle is hardly the fault of either player or club, but it wasn’t going particularly well even before the injury. Defoe has only managed nine league starts this season and scored three goals in all competitions. That expensive three-year deal for a 34-year-old doesn’t look such a wonderful idea now.
Brighton: Tim Krul
“I’d love to be back playing in the Premier League, obviously, but Mat is a great goalkeeper,” Krul told BBC Sussex when asked if he expected to be Brighton No. 1. “If the gaffer needs me, I’m ready.” The gaffer has not needed him. At the age of 29, an international goalkeeper has played 32 league games in two-and-a-half years.
Burnley: Nakhi Wells
The fact that promoted Huddersfield were happy to sell should have been a clue. Wells scored ten times in 46 Championship games last season. He is still yet to start a league game for Burnley and has managed 23 Premier League minutes in total. What an awful buy.
Chelsea: Tiemoue Bakayoko
There are Chelsea supporters keeping the faith that Bakayoko may come good in his second season in west London, but the rest of us aren’t so sure. Chelsea paid £40m for a midfielder whose only obvious strength is moving forward with the ball at feet and playing simple passes. Both of which Ruben Loftus-Cheek could have done for free.
Worst performance of the season? 👎
— Sky Sports PL (@SkySportsPL) February 6, 2018
Crystal Palace: Jairo Riedewald
Rie-de-waaaald, let them know it’s Christmas time. The Dutchman joined his former manager Frank de Boer from Ajax and promptly saw his mate sacked after four games. He’s 21, was hoping to make his name in the Premier League and has played only 220 league minutes since Roy Hodgson arrived.
Everton: Davy Klaassen
An absolute shambles. Klaassen arrived at Everton as a highly-rated midfielder looking forward to playing under his countryman Ronald Koeman. Then Everton signed umpteen other No. 10s for either massive money or on massive wages, promptly forgot Klaassen existed and appointed Sam Allardyce as Koeman’s replacement. To top it off, he didn’t even get the expected loan move in January.
Huddersfield: Steve Mounie
Those of us who don’t watch Huddersfield regularly still remember the two goals on the opening day and assume that Mounie must be doing alright. And then along comes Sarah Winterburn to point out that Mounie is now behind Laurent Depoitre in the pecking order and has started seven games since the end of September. And you realise Winty is right. Again.
Leicester: Eldin Jakupovic
Really quite bizarre. Jakupovic was one of Hull City’s best players towards the end of last season, and was linked with a move to a number of Premier League clubs. Not only has Jakupovic failed to oust Kasper Schmeichel as No. 1, he hasn’t even made the bench with Ben Hamer getting the nod.
Liverpool: Dominic Solanke
Probably the most difficult one of the lot, given that Liverpool only signed four players and three of them will be happy with their work. Yet Solanke left Chelsea in search of first-team football that will prove so vital in the development of a 20-year-old. So far, he’s managed fewer than 400 minutes in the Premier League and Champions League combined. Though he does have an England cap.
Dominic Solanke comes on. The human final whistle.
— Lüke (@KopiteLuke1892) January 30, 2018
Manchester City: Olarenwaju Kayode
No, us neither. But Manchester City apparently paid £3.5m to Austria Vienna for striker Kayode and then immediately loaned him to sister club Girona. Nothing weird there, but the Nigerian has only started two La Liga matches. Also, he’s not some wonderkid that could make the grade at City – he turns 25 in three months.
Manchester United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Now Victor Lindelof might well continue to be a huge disappointment, but at least he has time on his side. Manchester United rushed to give Ibrahimovic a new contract despite his obvious injury concerns, and that looks a dreadful decision. He’s played 103 league minutes, looked unsurprisingly rusty and might well move to LA Galaxy at some point soon.
Newcastle United: Stefan O’Connor
I’m not actually sure O’Connor even exists. The defender joined Newcastle last summer after being released by Arsenal, talked up his similarities with Rio Ferdinand and determination to break into the first team and then promptly fell off the radar. O’Connor has not made a Premier League match-day squad all season. At the age of 21, he would have been better going somewhere where he could play.
🏴 Players @NUFC have signed on a free:
✅ 2009: Samuel Adjei
✅ 2011: Shefki Kuqi
✅ 2012: Romain Amalfitano
✅ 2013: Olivier Kemen
✅ 2014: Jack Colback
✅ 2016: Jesus Gámez
✅ 2017: Stefan O'Connor
😳 Unbelievable Signings 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/utIZQll6ac
— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) January 5, 2018
Southampton: Jan Bednarek
Signed for £5m, and then so absent from Southampton’s plans since that I checked multiple websites to see whether he’d been injured all season; he hasn’t. Named on the bench seven times in the league but yet to get on the pitch. “I have heard Southampton is such a good club for young players, so I can improve here,” Bednarek said when he joined. Or not, fella.
Stoke City: Kevin Wimmer
Ruined our ‘Onto a Wimmer’ and ‘The Wimmer takes it all’ headlines by being pretty wretched since joining Stoke for a cool £18m. He looks immobile, which made Mark Hughes’ decision to play him at left-back for two games all the more bizarre. ‘Five bookings and yet rarely got close enough to an opponent to make a tackle,’ as one Stoke wag put it.
Swansea City: Renato Sanches
Just a very sad situation. Last week, Paul Clement spoke at length at how broken Sanches is, a player who expected a move to a Premier League giant and has ended up scratching around for minutes at a relegation candidate. The truth is that Swansea look better without Sanches than with him. This loan deal needs to end sooner rather than later.
Tottenham: Fernando Llorente
The inspiration for the list, as it happens. Watching Llorente struggle over two games against Newport County reminded us of Roberto Soldado and Vincent Janssen. Beware the next striker approached by Tottenham to be Harry Kane’s back-up. It won’t end well.
Hello @llorentefer19 if you didn't miss so many chances today I would have won my bet. It was only to win £50 so if you don't mind sending me that £50 I would be very grateful. Let's be honest by the time you've sent it to me, you would have already made it back. DM me. Thanks x
— Michael Kelling (@Kelling7) February 7, 2018
Watford: Andre Gray
Not a disaster, but Gray was Watford’s record signing and he’s gone from being unprolific in the Premier League at Burnley to being unprolific in the Premier League at Watford. Gray has seen the manager who signed him sacked, but he had already fallen out of favour under Marco Silva. Three league starts since November isn’t a great look for your club’s most expensive striker.
West Brom: Oliver Burke
Sorry Oli, but we could have told you that signing for a Tony Pulis team as an exciting young winger was always going to be a tough assignment, unless you are prepared to re-train as a full-back. “There’s a lot I want to achieve,” Burke said in August. “I want to play a big part in the team and be the first name on the teamsheet.” Depends if you start from the bottom up, I suppose – he’s been on the bench 13 times and played 187 minutes in total.
West Ham: Joe Hart
Because West Ham thought they were getting a goalkeeper with a point to prove in the Premier League, and a proud player intent on keeping his place as England No. 1. What they got was a goalkeeper stuck in an extended rut and one who would drop away from the first team by Christmas. They are paying £4.5m in fee and wages for the privilege.