Ten biggest wastes of money includes ‘complete fanny’ who flopped at Manchester United

John Nicholson
Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, West Ham manager David Moyes and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres
Much like 2013, not fun reading for Manchester United or David Moyes

Manchester United and David Moyes feature heavily on a list of the ten biggest wastes of money in football history, somehow without them overlapping.


Juan Sebastian Veron (£28million, Lazio to Manchester United)
Back when the dumb journos could be sworn at and didn’t feel like worthless slugs, Siralax of Fergie called the assembled press conference hive minds “idiots” for not realising how good Veron, a record transfer, was. Even though he wasn’t. He’d arrived from Lazio for a record fee and spent two seasons, 82 games and 11 goals trying to live up to it, but never did. They offloaded him to Chelsea for 14 undistinguished games and a single goal, then he got a loan to Inter and to Argentinian club Estudiantes with whom he ended his career. Became an example of puffing a player up beyond his abilities.


Andy Carroll (£35 million, Newcastle to Liverpool)
Despite the fact that Andy’s only asset was brute force and could be replicated by throwing a side of beef at a ball, some madness overtook Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish must have been smoking the good carpet when they signed Carroll for £35million as a replacement for Fernando Torres, which still sounds like a lot of money for a side of horse meat.

An embarrassing waste of money. He wasn’t very good in his 58 appearances, scoring 11 times. His tendency to gallop around a pitch like a loose horse in the Grand National didn’t help him. Nor did disgracefully slapping his girlfriend, for which he was punished by being forced to live with Kevin Nolan and his vibrating plate. If he was playing in 1973, he’d have been a success. Loved being on the drink according to his managers. Got nine England caps. Scored one good goal but was pretty rubbish and one-dimensional otherwise. Never got into double figures after leaving Newcastle. Latest club is Amiens in the French second division. Has scored three goals in 21 games. Still crap.


Steve Daley (£1.4million, Wolves to Manchester City)
Unremarkable midfielder who somehow became the most expensive in the UK. If you want to know how big inflation in football is, his fee was roughly equal to seven and a half million today. Which is technically zero for City. Didn’t even play 50 games for City and scored four times. Became a by-word for ludicrous spending which football never recovered from. He was a decent scoring midfielder but not worthy of his fee and soon left for America for a more realistic £300,000. Finished his career at Walsall, which didn’t flatter him.


Gianluca Scamacca (£35million, Genoa to West Ham)
He was a young player at Sassuolo and was loaned out to Genoa when West Ham turned up with their pockets stuffed full of cash and bought him for £35million. He was a great prospect. But West Ham and David Moyes had no idea what to do with him. He was awful for just 27 games and eight goals. Moyes couldn’t develop a good young striker to save his life and had wasted the club’s money. Again. When will clubs learn? £22million later he was transferred at a loss to Atlanta and has been excellent, partly responsible for knocking Liverpool out of the Europa League. Moyes was not held to account for this by the British media, who looked the other way or blamed the player to protect their mate. We see you. This is what you get if you ‘be careful what you wish for’.


Fernando Torres (£50million, Liverpool to Chelsea)
One of the biggest wastes of money which no-one could see coming. Scored freely for Liverpool: 81 in 142 games. But in one of the biggest ever drop-offs of form, just couldn’t do it at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else. His numbers aren’t that bad at 45 goals in 172. He got into double figures in every season but it was the poor nature of his play that was so disappointing. Even when loaned out or transferred to other clubs he still never got his Liverpool form back. Finished his career in Japan where he still wasn’t any good with seven goals in 40 games. We all thought he’d be one of the best but turned out to be one of the rest.


Nobby Stiles (£200,000, Manchester United to Middlesbrough)
It was quite a coup to get the signature of a World Cup winner, even one with no front teeth. Even at the end of his career, 200 grand was a lot of money in 1971. But rather than firm up the midfield in his 69 games, he was a bit of a passenger. Ask yer granny. A terrifying new kid was in town and his name was Graeme Souness who was harder and more energetic and unafraid of getting blood on his boots. The club never did quite shake the habit of spending big on players at the end of their career.


Kaka (£68million, AC Milan to Real Madrid)
Brilliant Ballon d’Or winner for AC Milan. Was there for six seasons and scored double figures in each except one. Created a reputation for himself as one of the best players in world football. At his peak there was nothing he couldn’t do. Was quite possibly the best in the world at this point. Scored 95 goals in 270 for them and so a big move to Real Madrid was perhaps inevitable. They paid big for form that he couldn’t reproduce. Injuries struck and he lost his magic. After 29 goals and 32 assists in 120 appearances in all competitions over four seasons he’d had enough and went back to previous clubs AC Milan and then Sao Paulo before heading to America, but he was living off past glories.


Angel di Maria (£59million, Real Madrid to Manchester United)
Cost Manchester United a record sum from Real Madrid. They were effectively throwing their money away. He was a disaster who never settled under “the worst coach of my career” in Louis van Gaal and was described as “talented but a complete fanny” but one unnamed teammate.

He played just 32 games, scoring four times. Was widely seen as the biggest waste of money and there has been plenty of competition in the post-Ferguson era. Left for £44million to PSG and was good, making double figures most seasons. Was the victim of the United curse which makes everyone worse.

Currently playing great for Benfica. His time at United was easily the worst of his career


Sebastian Haller (£45million, Eintracht Frankfurt to West Ham)
Went to West Ham from Eintracht Frankfurt for a ludicrous £45million at the age of 23. Fell victim to the West Ham Moyes curse and was poor for the season and a half he was there. As one of the best young strikers in Europe, Moyes stared blankly at him and presumably was unable to inspire him with tales of promotion at Preston. The player blamed Moyes’ arrival for his poor form and he wouldn’t be the last to do so. Fifth-four games brought 10 goals and that was him done.

Went to Ajax for half what he cost West Ham, who seemed happy to throw cash away, seemingly unaware that Moyes had form for this. Of course he was excellent for Ajax and scored 47 times in 66 times once he was freed from the crushing dead hand at West Ham. Now at Dortmund. His time in London must feel like a nightmare. One where he’s being shouted at by an eyebrowless Scotsman.


Mario Balotelli (£16million, AC Milan to Liverpool)
Was bought to replace Luis Suarez. Bad idea. The boy was soloing with only five strings. Scored four in 28 games. Widely thought to be one of their worst ever signings and that includes Sean Dundee. Wasn’t just bad but completely disinterested. One of the worst things Brendan did, worse even than sniffing Scouse mince. At the end of the season he was loaned to AC Milan where he scored one goal in 20 games. Sold to Nice and has played for half a dozen clubs since, without distinction. Talented but with a terrible, narcissistic attitude. Currently in Turkey and seems to have found his (not very good) level. Nice hats though.

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