As the impending closure of the transfer window looms, the world of football has witnessed a flurry of activity.
Top leagues, including the Premier League, Saudi Pro League, and the American League, have been marked by substantial investments in the player market.
Amid this bustling environment, let’s delve into the narratives of 10 players who, over the past seven years, failed to match the lofty expectations set following their transfers.
- Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, 2017): The French winger’s move to Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for a staggering fee of €105 million was hailed with anticipation. Yet, plagued by recurring injuries, Dembele’s tenure at Camp Nou failed to meet projections. After nearly six years, he shifted to PSG in August 2023.
- Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, 2019): The Belgian winger’s transfer from Chelsea to Real Madrid in 2019, costing €115 million, held immense promise. However, beset by injuries, his Spanish sojourn fell short of replicating his prime form. After terminating his contract with Real Madrid in 2023, Hazard, now a free agent, contemplates retirement after rejecting offers from Saudi clubs and Premier League outfits.
- Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2018): The high-profile transfer of Brazilian midfielder Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018 was touted to be transformative. However, his struggles to adapt to Barcelona’s style, compounded by the weight of the transfer fee, hindered his performance. Following a stint at Bayern Munich, he currently plies his trade at Aston Villa.
- Sadio Mane (Liverpool to Bayern Munich, 2022): The Senegalese forward’s move from Liverpool to Bayern Munich in 2022 for £35 million bore mixed results. While he notched 10 goals in 22 appearances, his impact was curtailed by injuries. Eventually, Mane’s journey at Bayern ended with his transfer to Al Nassr, aligning with a mutual decision to seek fresh horizons.
- Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid to Chelsea, 2017): The Spanish striker’s shift from Real Madrid to Chelsea in 2017 was expected to elevate his career. However, the pressure of succeeding Diego Costa took a toll, impeding his ability to find the net consistently and eroding his confidence during his stint at Stamford Bridge.
- André Silva (Porto to AC Milan, 2017): Silva’s transition from Porto to AC Milan in 2017 was brimming with potential. Yet, the Portuguese striker encountered difficulties adapting to Serie A’s playing style. Inconsistent game time and managerial changes compelled him to embark on loan spells at Sevilla and Eintracht Frankfurt.
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to Manchester United, 2018): Joining Manchester United from Arsenal in 2018 for £39 million, the Chilean forward’s expectations weren’t met at Old Trafford. Loaned out to Inter Milan in 2019, his tenure in Manchester was marred by unfulfilled potential.
- Memphis Depay (Lyon to Barcelona, 2021 & PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United, 2015): Dutch forward Depay’s journey took him from Lyon to Barcelona in 2021, a move that did not yield expected results at Camp Nou. Prior to this, his €16 million transfer from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United in 2015 also fell short of the envisioned success.
- Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain to Juventus, 2022 & Real Madrid to Manchester United, 2014): Di Maria’s trajectory from Paris Saint-Germain to Juventus in 2022 on a free transfer saw him struggle to regain his peak form. A similar narrative unfolded when he moved from Real Madrid to Manchester United in 2014, with his underwhelming Old Trafford spell leading to a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain after one season.
- Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich to Swansea City, 2017): Sanches’s shift from Bayern Munich to Swansea City in 2017 showcased untapped potential marred by Premier League physicality. His struggles to adapt hindered his performances, making his trajectory a tale of unfulfilled promise.