Ten Premier League flops signed for £221m who will be at Euro 2024, ft. Chelsea hijack, West Ham disasters

Matt Stead
Leicester defender Victor Kristiansen and Manchester United player Bruno Fernandes, Mykhaylo Mudryk of Ukraine and Chelsea, and Real Madrid forward Joselu
Premier League flops, assemble

Some of the world’s finest will be at Euro 2024, but Premier League flops will be flocking to Germany too. Chelsea, Leicester and West Ham should be ashamed.


10) Joselu
A Champions League-winning Real Madrid stalwart and Manchester United transfer target he may be, Joselu was nevertheless an aggressively sub-par forward for both Stoke and Newcastle across three seasons as a Premier League player half a decade ago. He scored as many La Liga goals this campaign as he did in 68 top-flight games for the Potters and Magpies, having cost both around £5m each.

It could be pointed out that Joselu, much like in his current guise at the Bernabeu, was never intended to be the main man at either mid-table club. The Spaniard was part of Marko Arnautovic’s supporting cast, and then a foil for Salomon Rondon and inexplicable Euro 2024 teammate Ayoze Perez. But the “slow start” Mark Hughes initially lamented never actually gathered pace.


9) Deniz Undav
Again, the characterisation is perhaps harsh when describing a player who scored five goals in 617 minutes across his first and what might forever be only Premier League season. But Undav has expressed his “clear desire” to make his Stuttgart loan permanent this summer for two reasons: he has been excellent for them and was ever so slightly less so for Brighton.

Few players were quite as prolific across Europe in 2023/24 as Undav, whose 19 goals and 10 assists dragged Stuttgart second behind Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga while inspiring a late promotion into the Germany squad, despite not yet starting a game for his country.

It was a different story on the south coast. Undav came out on the wrong side of a battle for first-team opportunities against Danny Welbeck and Evan Ferguson, falling well short of the usual ceiling for Brighton January signings after joining from sister club Union-SG for £6m.

They could at least extract around £25m for their troubles soon, although probably not from Manchester City.


8) Remo Freuler
Nottingham Forest signed 21 players in the summer of 2022; eight have since left, with eight more having spent this past season out on loan. Freuler will count himself among both groups when his temporary stay at Bologna is made permanent this summer.

The midfielder Grandpa Simpson meme’d his way through the City Ground with one eminently forgettable season sandwiched between two Champions League-adjacent campaigns in Italy. Freuler was a key part of an Atalanta side which was knocked out in the 2021/22 group stage before joining newly-promoted Forest, then played a crucial role in Thiago Motta’s Bologna team which stunned Serie A to earn their extra spot in the tournament next campaign.

In between, the Switzerland international achieved almost nothing of note in 33 games for Forest, who could probably have done with that £8.1m in retrospect.


7) Wout Faes
“You never know how it can happen in football. If I play a good Euros, things can happen very quickly,” Faes said last week. “It would almost be a luxury problem because I feel very good at Leicester, and getting back into the Premier League is important for me.”

His most recent experience of that level should have sufficiently extinguished any enthusiasm for a return. Faes ranked low on a list of reasons behind Leicester’s 2023 relegation but he became something of a poster boy for their demise, the only player on whom they spent money in their final top-flight summer, £15m proof of defensive nominative determinism.

Only two players featured more regularly in their successful promotion charge but Faes has work to do before his reputation can be salvaged after that Liverpool debacle; a decent tournament with Belgium after being a regular in qualifying would be a start.


6) Mykhaylo Mudryk
The very second Mudryk next steps onto a Premier League pitch, he will tie once more for Chelsea managers and Chelsea goals at five apiece. That entire haul was delivered under Mauricio Pochettino, who got a tune out of the Ukrainian when Graham Potter, Frank Lampard and, harsh as it is to group him in there, Bruno Saltor could not.

Even then, Mudryk was hardly note-perfect for Pochettino. The Argentinean simply established a degree of competence in the game of a player he routinely battered at crossbar challenge with all the man-management finesse of Glenn Hoddle.

With Chelsea blocking a possible Olympics call-up, Enzo Maresca will hope Mudryk can use the Euros as a platform to at least suggest some of those £27m in add-ons could be achieved at Stamford Bridge.

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5) Gianluca Scamacca
Despite playing 27 games for West Ham, the two most notable things Scamacca has achieved as a player in England are a) scoring his only international goal thus far at Wembley and b) helping Atalanta eliminate Liverpool from the Europa League.

The forward’s season in east London was a miserable time for all involved. Scamacca did not feature regularly and struggled to settle; West Ham spent £30.5m to extend their striker curse; David Moyes had to field someone other than Michail Antonio every so often.

Antonio summed up the problem neatly, calling Scamacca “a quality player” but conceding that “he cannot play the way the manager wants to play” as “you have to feed off scraps, be a fighter… and he’s not that”. As reigning champions, Italy probably won’t be sticking it into the channels for him to chase.


4) Andrej Kramaric
One of ten Premier League rejects who went to Euro 2020ten Premier League rejects at the 2018 World Cup and nine Premier League rejects (Storey always did struggle with counting) at Euro 2016.

Kramaric is the absolute king of these features and only our laziness in not producing a World Cup 2022 equivalent has prevented him from completing an unprecedented four-in-a-row.


3) Victor Kristiansen
It started well enough. Kristiansen made his Leicester debut in a 4-2 win over Aston Villa, which was followed a week later by a 4-1 victory against Tottenham. Then came a slide of six consecutive defeats, only one more win and a final 5-3 loss to Fulham, after which he was dropped for the last three matches of the 2022/23 season.

That chastening Craven Cottage experience, in which he was substituted at 5-1 down with a quarter of an hour to play after being tormented by Harry Wilson, remains the left-back’s last Leicester appearance. A failed conversion into a makeshift centre-half in possession preceded a prosperous loan with Bologna which has left Kristiansen uncertain of his future.

“I have to play this European Championship. I have asked all parties involved to let me focus on it,” the 21-year-old Dane said recently. But the Foxes could do with the money soon, even if breaking even on their initial £17m investment seems fanciful.


2) Cenk Tosun
Every time Everton are docked points, Sam Allardyce must feel a slight tinge of guilt. The summer of 2017 was slightly more ruinous but considering his reign only lasted 26 games, the one-time England manager having almost £50m of signings sanctioned the subsequent January does help sum up some of the club’s current predicament.

A whole £20m was laid down for 11 goals, nine assists and 85 games of Theo Walcott. Then Allardyce bragged of Tosun that “for the price, he is the best in Europe at the moment.” And he too scored 11 goals, accompanied by only six assists in 61 matches.

The striker was abysmal for Everton, and not much better on loan at Crystal Palace before suffering a significant knee injury. That contributed to Tosun leaving Goodison Park for nothing upon the expiration of his contract in 2022.

Tosun represented Turkey at Euro 2016 and was sidelined for Euro 2020 through injury. A few months before, Allardyce tried to sign him for West Brom because of course he did.


1) Nikola Vlasic
“My family never wants to go back to live in England,” were the frustrated words of Vlasic in summer 2023, sensing that his permanent West Ham exit was being blocked. It was sanctioned soon after and no matter how things turn out at Torino, a return to these shores is unfathomable.

Vlasic has endured two full seasons of Premier League football which only qualify for that description on a technicality. The Croatian forward joined Everton for £10m in August 2017 and played 19 games, scoring two goals. After being deemed surplus to requirements he moved to CSKA Moscow, thriving to the extent that West Ham were left wondering why he had not been snapped up by one of their direct rivals earlier.

Moyes spent £26.8m on a 23-year-old who scored once in 36 games and looked every bit the awkward fit as he had at Goodison Park years before.

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