Less talked about transfer flops of the last 10 years

Less talked about transfer flops of the last 10 years

When it comes to transfer flops talk, it's usually the row of the usual suspects: Alexis Sanchez, Fernando Torres, Philippe Coutinho, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and so on. These players never get the benefit of the doubt when the pundits or the fans mention them. Yet, there are those who failed to deliver despite the astonishing sums invested in them and have somehow, avoided the anger and the ridicule the listed have endured for years.

We take a look at some of the players whose big-money transfers failed to justify the expectations, yet the players in question and the buying clubs usually don't get heavily criticized for it. Or at all. For all the different reasons, even though some of these transfers didn't cost the clubs just the money, but timing through opportune cost. Setting them back for years.

Benjamin Mendy - Monaco to Manchester City for €57,500,000

When Manchester City bought Benjamin Mendy in 2017, they thought the club was getting a long-term solution for the left-back position. The price shows that clearly, as it was the most paid for a left-back at the time, and is currently the second-biggest move for an LB ever. Yet, in the years to come, City played a younger attacking midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko more in that position.

Now, the natural right-back Joao Cancelo has a lock on the position as Mendy played only in 65 games for the club since arriving. With Zinchenko in front of him, Mendy doesn't seem to be in the plans of Pep Guardiola. Providing 11 assists in the 5,030 minutes he got to play for City. Since arriving, he had 16 different fitness problems and at 26 years of age, he is an afterthought in a domineering team. It’s the success that City had that made Mendy receive less criticism than other players, that and his off-pitch light-hearted persona which many enjoy.

Naby Keita - RB Leipzig to Liverpool for €60,000,000

If Jurgen Klopp was criticized for anything prior to this disappointing season it was that he is too one-dimensional in his approach to football. Something he was probably not ashamed of admitting to himself as he ordered Liverpool buy a creative midfielder to spring out passes when his Gegenpressing fails. Naby Keita arrived with a massive check of €60,000,000 in 2018, while the move was arranged a year before when his release clause was activated.

It's only because of Liverpool's massive success that his failure at Anfield isn't more of a heated topic. Two Champions League finals, one triumph and the ending of the Premier League drought put the massive fee in the shadow. Now 26, Keita played in 72 games for Liverpool, having 11 goal contributions only. His career is riddled with injuries, having 15 of them in the red shirt, the last one and current being the worst of them all. For comparison, this under the radar transfer flop played in one game fewer for RB Leipzig, but in 1,725 minutes more.

Goncalo Guedes - Paris Saint-Germain to Valencia for €40,000,000

A player is regarded a flop not just for the money invested in him and the return, not that the sum isn't big here, but also for the impact expected of him at the time. Goncalo Guedes was supposed to be the turning point in Valencia's story of the second decade in the 21st century. A franchise player as it would be said in American sports. The club's record signing was bought at the young age of 21 and was to push the club to a high place in the unofficial reputation rankings and earn an asinine future transfer fee.

Valencia now can't even hope to break even on the 24-year-old. Since arriving, Guedes played 123 games and the winger scored only 19 goals and made the same number of assists. The name of the game for this overlooked transfer flop is inconsistency, as the Portuguese player shows glimpses of frightening talent. Yet he is more of a Quaresma in his stability and dedication than he is Cristiano Ronaldo. With the way Valencia is looking now, he is most likely going to be sold for peanuts sooner rather than later.

Malcom - Bordeaux to Barcelona for €41,000,000

Because of the way his transfer happened, with Roma announcing the move first before Barcelona gazumping them, the Brazilian is not regarded as a flop for Barca. The fee the Catalans also got from Zenit St. Petersburg is only a million smaller than what Bordeaux received from the Spanish side. Yet, that doesn't count in the signing on fee and the salary Barca invested in the Brazilian.

Not to mention the opportune cost. The money Barca put into this transfer back in the summer of 2018 could've been invested in other players. Juventus bought the proven Douglas Costa the same summer for less. Richarlison was also bought by Everton and could've been used as an understudy for Luis Suarez, and not have the club without a proper striker in 2020.

Shkodran Mustafi - Valencia to Arsenal for €41,000,000

Perhaps an inclusion on this list of less-criticized transfer flops that is going to raise some eyebrows because few lauded the performances of Shkodran Mustafi for Arsenal. Yet, somehow, the focus was always on his often comically poor performances and the fact that the Gunners paid €41,000,000 usually avoided the narrative. On the list of the most expensive centre-backs ever, Mustafi is 17th just behind Thiago Silva's move to PSG.

The probable main reason why the pundits and the columnists didn't criticize the 2016 move is because Mustafi was lauded as a World Cup winner with Germany. Yet, few stopped to think of the specificity of international football, and even more, of Jurgen Low. Mustafi has left the Emirates on the back door in the summer of 2021, with no fee, as the club was happy to let the 151-cap club veteran go without it.

Christian Benteke - Aston Villa to Liverpool for €46,500,000

Coming to Anfield as the club's second most expensive transfer ever at the time, it's wildly forgotten how great the expectations were for the imposing striker. Some memorable goals he scored in the red shirt also help mask the disappointment his move was as there were few and far between. In 42 games played for LFC, Benteke managed to score only 10 goals. He played only 2,202 at that!

He wasn't fitting into Jurgen Klopp's style of play and the two injuries didn't help with that. His record at Aston Villa was stellar with 49 goals in 101 matches, but he didn't excel after leaving Anfield too - scoring 27 goals in 135 games for Crystal Palace. As LFC took the loss of selling him for €15,000,000 fewer than they invested after only a year of playing. Benteke is one of the proofs of the naivety of buying expensive players by sporting director's plans, when the manager isn't known for the long-term.

Joelinton - Hoffenheim to Newcastle for €44,000,000

By far the club's biggest transfer ever, Joelinton set back Newcastle United for years possibly as the Brazilian heavily disappointed in England. Coming from Hoffenheim, where Julian Nagelsmann got the best out of him and he delivered in goals, assists, pressing, and build-up play, the 24-year-old suffered in English football. Overall, in 79 games he scored seven goals and bagged the same number of assists.

As he is getting up there in age, there is less and less chance that the striker will sprout and have Newcastle return the investment by getting the expected performances. Or by selling him to a bigger club as it must've been expected in the build-up to the move from Hoffenheim. Yet, the Magpies haven't still cut the cost like West Ham did with Sebastian Haller and sold him for half the price they invested. But WHU's approach doesn't seem like the right one either.


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