Premier League

Five biggest Premier League transfer flops this season

Suraj Radia
Darwin Nunez, Liverpool, 2022/23

The January transfer window is upon us once again, with Premier League sides looking to supplement their summer business and build on towards the second half of the season following the World Cup break.

Premier League teams spent just under £2 billion during the summer transfer window, with Chelsea the biggest spenders and posting a record-high outlay in excess of £270 million.

While signings such as Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus hit the ground running following their summer moves, plenty of other players have failed to justify their pricetags in the first few months of the season.

FootballTransfers takes a look at five of the biggest transfer flops in the Premier League this season.

Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona to Aston Villa, £17m)

Aston Villa’s loan signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona last January was seen as something of a coup and five goals in the second half of the season prompted then-manager Steven Gerrard to push for a permanent £17m move for the Brazilian in the summer.

However, the 30-year-old has been in disastrous form since, leading to Gerrard’s departure and the forward being dropped under new boss Unai Emery after no goals or assists in 15 games this season.

Despite Coutinho taking a wage cut upon joining Villa, he is still among the club’s highest earners but the decision to offer him a four-year deal may come back to haunt the club in the future.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona to Chelsea, £10m)

Despite Chelsea spending more money in the summer than any other team in history, the Blues failed to strengthen up front and opted to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona on deadline day for £10m.

The 34-year-old was the choice of former manager Thomas Tuchel and began his Blues career with three goals in his first five games but has failed to score since under new boss Graham Potter and looks a shadow of his former self, leading to his relegation to the bench.

While none of Chelsea’s summer signings appear to have hit their peak despite the large money spent, Aubameyang was brought in to be an immediate success but he appears to be another name in the long list of strikers that have underwhelmed at Stamford Bridge.

Kalvin Phillips (Leeds to Man City, £42m)

Manchester City made Kalvin Phillips one of their first signings of the summer, bringing in the England international from Leeds for £42m in a deal which was considered a shrewd move at the time following the retirement of Fernandinho.

However, the 27-year-old has played just one minute of Premier League football for City so far, having suffered a host of injury concerns, leading to manager Pep Guardiola to criticise the midfielder’s conditioning following his return from the World Cup.

Phillips’ ability is not in doubt and he can still make a positive impact should he eventually regain fitness but the large outlay on a player who was supposed to be a long-term solution to a key position has proven disappointing thusfar.

Darwin Nunez (Benfica to Liverpool, £85m)

Much has been made of Liverpool’s £85m signing of Darwin Nunez in the summer, with the Uruguayan becoming the club’s record signing after a prolific season with Benfica in Portugal.

However, Nunez has struggled to adapt to Premier League football so far and has proved unconvincing with his finishing despite netting nine times in all competitions.

Although Nunez has shown promise with his work rate and hold-up play, he will naturally be held to the standards of his astronomical price tag and it will require a dramatic improvement in his output for the pressure to be relieved on the 23-year-old.

Djed Spence (Middlesbrough to Tottenham (£20m)

Tottenham’s signing of Djed Spence from Middlesbrough in the summer was believed to be a smart move for a young right-back who could flourish under the tutelage of Antonio Conte.

The 22-year-old signed for a fee of £20m after leading Nottingham Forest to promotion and being named in the Championship team of the season but Spence has played just five minutes of league football this season.

The transfer appears to be an example of the major disconnect between Conte and chairman Daniel Levy, with Spence still not being utilised by the Spurs boss despite a lack of quality at right-back otherwise.

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