Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham ‘stars’ take pride of place in our 2022/23 Transfer Flops XI

Dave Tickner
Richarlison reacts

You can’t do a transfer hits XI without providing the yin to that yang. Or yang to that yin, whichever is more apt. 

Here is an XI of players whose big moves have not gone as well as anyone hoped or very often expected. Reasons can be myriad and are often not entirely or even mainly the fault of the player. Some may in time manage to make their inclusion here look an absolute daftness. We’ll be delighted if they do. Others, though, will not.

Here’s the Transfer Hits XI before you get into the, let’s face it, more fun business of revelling in the misery of others…


GK Gavin Bazunu (Southampton)
Very obviously not without talent, but signing a 20-year-old goalkeeper with zero Premier League experience and chucking him straight into a relegation fight behind an alarmingly porous defence has gone about as well as you’d expect, even before the Premier League’s greatest ever manager was added briefly to that heady brew.


RB Djed Spence (Tottenham)
We’re perfectly willing to place the blame entirely at his stubborn manager’s door on this one, until shown significant evidence to the contrary. All Spurs can hope is that Spence hasn’t been forced out of the club altogether before a new (or old?) manager comes in who might actually relish the chance to work with an audaciously talented youngster rather than huffily demand another £36m new signing instead.


CB Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)
He’d been linked for so long that it seems incongruous to actually see him at Chelsea. In our heads this was already one of those ‘long-running transfer links that never actually comes to pass’. Koulibaly actually signing for Chelsea is like Wesley Sneijder having a couple of years at Old Trafford or Leandro Damiao turning up for real for Spurs. It’s just wrong. Chelsea have meddled with forces they do not understand, forces stronger than they could ever realise. They should not have done so. Also because Koulibaly has been a bit crap to be honest, after all that.


CB Shane Duffy (Fulham)
An odd and rare misstep for the Cottagers this season, brought in on a slightly confusing initial loan, barely used, and then by necessity converted into a permanent signing to make room in the squad for Cedric Soares’ temporary move from Arsenal. It’s not that he’s been shit particularly, it’s just that he’s done pretty much nothing other than generate a great deal of paperwork for four one-minute Premier League appearances.


LB Marc Cucurella (Chelsea)
At some point players and indeed managers might start to realise that the greenest grass is in fact to be found at Brighton. Not yet, though. Not yet.


CM Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)
Superb for Leeds and indeed England in recent years, but has barely featured for City after a big-money summer move. There is a general acceptance that players can often take a bit of time to get the hang of Pep Guardiola’s tactics and methods, but even allowing for that – and further mitigation presented by injury setbacks – it’s been pretty disappointing. Sense remains that Pep is not remotely convinced by the cut of Kalvin’s jib.


CM Arthur Melo (Liverpool)
Takes an awful lot for a loan signing to make it into one of these features, but it is fair to say Arthur’s arrival from Juventus has done little to solve Liverpool’s crippling central midfield issues.


AM Jesse Lingard (Nottingham Forest)
The most expensive, in wage terms at least, and eye-catching of Forest’s mass of summer signings, Lingard has more yellow cards (1) than goals (0) or assists (0) in his 14 Premier League appearances this season.


RW Richarlison (Tottenham)
Injuries have been a factor, but his lack of meaningful minutes in a Spurs attack where Heung-min Son has been so conspicuously struggling (and injured himself for a decent spell) isn’t a great look for the big-money summer signing. We’ll be charitable and suggest that the manager’s stubbornness is a factor here too, but when you arrive at a Champions League-chasing club as a forward and your only Premier League goal is a) scored in September and b) chalked off by VAR after you’ve got a yellow card for celebrating it real hard then you are going to find yourself in these kinds of lists. Did get a couple of goals in the Champions League and might be rewarded for his efforts this season with a move to Real Madrid apparently, so it’s not all doom and gloom.


LW Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa)
Steven Gerrard’s ego loan signing should probably have remained just that. Has somehow appeared in 19 of Villa’s Premier League games, which was a number we had to check in three different places because it sounds absolutely way off, but he has started only six of those games. And completed 90 minutes just once in a goalless draw against Leeds back in October. Across his 19 (nineteen) appearances of assorted length, his grand total contribution is no goals and no assists. He has missed only two games entirely, through hamstring twang back in November. Those games were wins over Manchester United and Brighton, who are both good.


CF Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Chelsea)
Chelsea have foolishly got themselves the late-era Arsenal version of Aubameyang, all grumps and huffs and distractions and no goals, rather than the early Arsenal or even the Barcelona version. An error on the Blues’ part.