Arthur, Auba, Antony: Every Premier League club’s worst signing of the season

Ian Watson
Antony, Aubameyang and Arthur

Antony has hardly stunk out Old Trafford but neither has he been value for money. Yet. This was a lot easier for some clubs than others, like Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City…

The best signings of the season are here.


Arsenal: Fabio Vieira
It would certainly be wrong to label Vieira a flop. As a 22-year-old coming into the Premier League from the Portuguese league, he is entitled to take some time to settle. And, as Mikel Arteta explained, it was a rough beginning to his Arsenal career:  “He had a difficult start because he was injured for two months and wasn’t at the level that we needed.” Fortunately, Arsenal haven’t felt the need to rely on their £31.5million midfielder. But the Gunners are entitled to expect more for their investment.


Aston Villa: Leander Dendocker
Philippe Coutinho has hardly been a roaring success and Jan Bednarek was a waste of time. But we genuinely forgot that Dendoncker had joined Villa. The Belgian has made only three starts and none since Unai Emery’s first game in charge.


Bournemouth: Ilya Zabarnyi
It’s hard to pin a worst signing tag on any of Bournemouth’s new recruits. Antoine Semenyo has hardly hit the ground running, failing to score or create a goal in six appearances since his January move from Bristol City. But at least he’s taken to the pitch, which is more than can be said for Zabarnyi. The centre-back arrived from Dynamo Kyiv for big money but he turned up with an ankle injury. Gary O’Neil hoped he would have featured by now.


Brentford: Mikkel Damsgaard
Keane Lewis-Potter has struggled to establish himself after making the step up from the Championship and injuries have certainly been a factor. But Brentford fans were hoping for more from Damsgaard, who was brilliant at wing-back for Denmark on their run to the European Championships semi-finals in 2021. He has some mitigation: Thomas Frank has tried to employ him in a more central role and there have been some encouraging signs this month. But Damsgaard still needs to push on before the end of the season.


Brighton : Billy Gilmour
His £10million move to Brighton from Chelsea to play for Graham Potter was expected to kick-start Gilmour’s career. A week later, Potter made the reverse move and Gilmour has struggled badly for the game time he craved. The fact he has to get past Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo is also unfortunate but the only way he looks set to get the involvement he hoped for is if Brighton cash in on one of their midfielders next summer. Otherwise it may well be Gilmour on the move again.


Chelsea: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Auba suffered a similar misfortune to Gilmour. He signed for Chelsea to play for Thomas Tuchel at the start of September. Five days later, Tuchel was sacked, the German seemingly taking Aubameyang’s prospects with him. Potter clearly doesn’t fancy the Gabon hit-man, who was left out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the second half of the season and has played only 43 minutes of Premier League football since January 5.


Crystal Palace: Naouirou Ahamada
Signed in January for £10.6million from Stuttgart and almost completely forgotten already.


Everton: Ruben Vinagre
James Garner has hardly featured because of injury but Vinagre has been willing if not able to play for Frank Lampard and Sean Dyche. Everton negotiated a £17million option to sign the left-back permanently after borrowing him from Sporting for the season. But having played a total of 24 minutes in the Premier League where he has not been seen since August, the Toffees will be packing Vinagre back off to Portugal.


Fulham: Kevin Mbabu
There are multiple reasons why Fulham have already shipped Mbabu off to Servette for the rest of the season, as Marco Silva explained: “Because of the competition, it was hard for him. We’ve seen the best of Kenny Tete. That’s the first reason. As he has said as well, he arrived late in the market. That’s always a problem. If you arrive late, you go into some games when you’re not in the best physical condition and you don’t know everything. The first games for him weren’t the best. That made an impact on his confidence as well. It didn’t work out because of those reasons, and the way we want to play didn’t suit his profile.” In summary: he wasn’t as good as other options; he wasn’t fit; and it wasn’t a good tactical fit either. It feels like much of that could have been foreseen before Fulham chucked £5million at Wolfsburg.


Leeds: Georginio Rutter
Leeds broke their transfer record to sign an apparently reluctant Rutter from Hoffenheim for £30million, but with the Whites in need of some firepower, especially while Patrick Bamford continues to be so fragile, the 20-year-old has struggled badly. He has managed only one start and six substitute appearances during which he is yet to have a hand in a goal. He might come good, but Gracia can hardly wait.


Leicester: Tete
Leicester haven’t been able to afford many signings this season so they’ve had to spend well. In Wout Faes, Victor Kristiansen and Harry Souttar, they generally have. Brendan Rodgers has also borrowed Tete from Shakhtar Donetsk but the jury is still out on whether the Foxes should make it a permanent arrangement at the end of the season. He was outstanding on his debut in the 4-2 win at Villa but the 23-year-old has struggled to maintain that level.


Liverpool: Arthur Melo
A panic signing – not even Liverpool’s first choice midfielder from Juventus, apparently – and Arthur has done nothing (literally nothing in the Premier League) to alleviate Jurgen Klopp’s midfield headache aside, perhaps, from reinforcing the need to do a proper job of their recruitment next summer.

Ranking the 20 Premier League teams by the market value of their squads: Liverpool above Man Utd…


Manchester City: Kalvin Phillips
Pep Guardiola likes to ease in his new signings and it takes a while for most to get to grips with the manager’s methods. But no Premier League starts so far tells you just how far short his thinks the £42million signing is. If City could get their money back next summer, they almost certainly would.


Manchester United: Antony
United’s transfer business has been uncharacteristically sound this season. Tyrell Malacia, Erik ten Hag’s first signing, is still very raw but his arrival seemed to prompt Luke Shaw to pull his finger out. More, though, was expected of Antony after Ten Hag pursued him with intent all through the summer, resulting in United paying £86million. For such a fee, regardless of the need to adapt to the Premier League after moving from Eredivisie, the Red Devils are entitled to ask for more consistency from the showman. And perhaps an occasional dalliance down the outside of a defender.


Newcastle: Anthony Gordon
Certainly no one is writing off the £45million winger just yet but Gordon is yet to get going since his controversial move from his boyhood club. An ankle injury hasn’t helped, but having rehabbed in Dubai, Gordon needs to seize upon Miguel Almiron’s absence against Manchester United this weekend and offer an illustration of why Eddie Howe was so keen to sign a winger who couldn’t get in Frank Lampard’s Everton side.


Nottingham Forest: Jesse Lingard
Lingard is certainly not the only one of Forest’s 427 signings to struggle, but so much more was expected of their marquee summer signing. The ex-Man Utd winger signed a one-year deal in the expectation of blowing everyone away and having a queue at his door come the end of the season. As it stands, after failing to score and losing his place, Forest will open that door for him and shove him through.

Cooper Lingard

Southampton: Joe Aribo
The summer signing from Rangers, who scored in last season’s Europa League final, has seen his status drop with each Southampton manager this season. Ralph Hasenhuttl played him in each of his Premier League games before he was axed. Nathan Jones used him rather more sparingly while Ruben Selles has yet to field Aribo in the Premier League or even put him on his bench. The only game time the forward has had under Saints’ latest boss came in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Grimsby.


Tottenham: Arnaut Danjuma
Richarlison has hardly been a raging success and few people would be more glad to see the back of Antonioo Conte than Djed Spence. But Danjuma seems to have been borrowed from Villarreal just to p*ss Everton off. An approach we can all get behind, but it hasn’t helped Spurs. All a bit pointless really.


West Ham: Gianluca Scamacca 
The Italy striker was one of a number of big-money buys last summer that haven’t paid off West Ham. It was hoped Scamacca could be the goalscorer the Hammers have longed for but already, after only three goals so far and over a month spent on the bench, there are rumours he’s heading back to Serie A in the summer.


Wolves: Goncalo Guedes
Wolves spent £27million to sign Guedes from Valenica but already he has been packed off without even so much as a loan fee. It’s not clear what went so wrong for the Portuguese striker but it seems evident that he hasn’t a future at Molineux. The only matter at hand is for Wolves to settle on how much of a financial hit they are prepared to stomach on a player not 12 months into a five-year deal.