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Top 10 Biggest Flops In Football History

Generally Massive spending can sometimes lead to success in Football, but indiscriminate splurging doesn’t always yield positive outcomes. Despite this, affluent clubs are always eager to shell out cash to solve problems or recruit players, often resulting in colossal signings that end up as disappointments.

Numerous players acquired for hefty fees fail to meet expectations. Several factors contribute to this, such as joining a club at an inopportune time, working under unsuitable management, the burden of a lofty transfer fee, individual underperformance, and off-field issues.

1. Philippe Coutinho: Liverpool to Barcelona (2018) – €120m

Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 for €120m plus €40m in potential bonuses was initially seen as a dream signing but quickly turned into a nightmare. Barca, without a clear role for Coutinho, struggled to integrate him, and his most memorable moment was scoring against his own team while on loan at Bayern Munich.

Desperate to offload him, Barcelona allowed Coutinho to join Aston Villa for just €20m in 2022, seeking financial stability.

2. Ousmane Dembele: Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona (2017) – €105m

Barcelona, flush with cash from Neymar’s departure, paid Borussia Dortmund an initial €105m for Dembele, but the winger failed to justify the price tag due to disciplinary issues and frequent injuries. After missing numerous games, Dembele departed for PSG in 2023.

3. Eden Hazard: Chelsea to Real Madrid (2019) – €100m

Real Madrid signed Eden Hazard for €100m as Ronaldo’s successor, but the Belgian struggled with weight issues, lack of effort, and injuries. His lackluster performances culminated in Real Madrid terminating his contract.

4. Paul Pogba: Juventus to Manchester United (2016) – £89m

United paid a record fee to re-sign Pogba, but his inconsistent performances and off-field issues resulted in his departure back to Juventus amid a doping scandal.

5. Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan to Chelsea (2021) – £98m

Lukaku returned to Chelsea but failed to impress, openly criticizing the coach and ultimately sealing his exit.

6. Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (2019) – £100m

Barcelona’s big-money move for Griezmann failed to yield desired results, contributing to financial troubles that led to Messi’s departure.

7. Angel Di Maria: Real Madrid to Manchester United (2014) – £59.7m

Angel Di Maria’s British-record transfer to Manchester United in 2014 didn’t meet expectations, and he departed for PSG after just one season.

8. Nicolas Pepe: Lille to Arsenal – £72m (2019)

Pepe’s high-profile transfer to Arsenal did not meet expectations, leading to a series of loan spells.

9. Harry Maguire: Leicester City to Manchester United (2019) – £80m

Maguire’s move to Man Utd failed to justify the world-record fee for a defender, and he faced criticism for inconsistent performances.

10. João Felix: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (2019) – £113m

Felix’s big-money move to Atletico Madrid did not pan out, and he struggled to adapt to the team’s tactics, leading to a loan move to Chelsea and now with Barcelona.


Alvaro Morata: Real Madrid to Chelsea (2017) – £60m

Renato Sanches: Benfica to Bayern Munich (2016) – €35m

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Athletic Club to Chelsea (2018) – £72m

Romelu Lukaku: Everton to Man Utd (2017) – £75m

Fernando Torres: Liverpool to Chelsea (2011) – £50m

Jovic: Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid (2019) – €60m

Gonzalo Higuain: Napoli to Juventus (2016) – €90m

Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio to Manchester United (2001) – £28m

Kaka: AC Milan to Real Madrid (2009) – €68.5m

Angel Di Maria: Real Madrid to Manchester United (2014) – £60m

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter Milan to Barcelona (2009) – £59m + Samuel Eto’o!

James Rodriguez: Monaco to Real Madrid (2014) – €80m

Eliaquim Mangala: Valencia to Manchester City (2014) – £42m

Alexis Sanchez: Arsenal to Manchester United (2018) – Swap deal

Luka Jovic: Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid (2019) – €60m

Andy Carroll: Newcastle United to Liverpool (2011) – £35m

In summary, while spending big can sometimes be fruitful, it often fails to guarantee success, as evidenced by these high-profile flops in soccer history.

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