Premier League

The seven biggest transfer flops in Europe this season so far

Stuart Telford
Darwin Nunez Liverpool 2022-23

Nearly €5 billion was spent on transfers around world football last summer, with three players – Darwin Nunez, Antony and Aurelien Tchouameni – costing their new clubs €100 million alone. But not every move has worked out…

Some have succeeded, and in rip-roaring style. Erling Haaland only set Manchester City back €60m when he joined the English champions from Borussia Dortmund, and he has raced to 21 Premier League goals in 16 games at a rate of one every 62 minutes he has played.

But for every Haaland there is a Nunez who, whilst costing markedly more, has scored significantly fewer goals for Liverpool. Football Transfers looks at seven of the biggest transfer flops in Europe this season…

READ: Five biggest Premier League transfer flops this season

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona to Chelsea for €12m)

Chelsea, having been beaten to the punch by Barcelona for Raphinha and Jules Kounde – as well as seeing Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso leave for Camp Nou on free transfers – duly agreed to pay Barca €12m for a 33-year-old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The former Arsenal captain was reunited with his one-time Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel for all of an hour of football before the manager was replaced by Graham Potter, and has mustered just a single goal – against Crystal Palace – in nine Premier League appearances since.

Raphinha (Leeds to Barcelona for €58m)

Chelsea got as far as discussing terms with Raphinha before he plumped for Barca, but the more he has played for the Blaugrana, the more it seems that the Blues have dodged a €58m bullet.

READ: Barcelona consider Raphinha exit as Premier League clubs monitor situation

It all looked so rosy in pre-season, with Brazilian winger scoring twice, including a thunderbolt against Real Madrid, but he now has just three goals from 20 competitive games. Ousmane Dembele and Ferran Torres have since pulled ahead of the Brazilian as Xavi’s first-choice wide men.

Paul Pogba (Man Utd to Juventus on a free transfer)

Paul Pogba may not have cost Juventus a transfer fee on returning to the club from Manchester United, but fan excitement has quickly turned to anger and frustration due to the Frenchman’s injury woes and, more importantly, how he has handled them.

Pogba won four consecutive Serie A titles in his first spell at Juve before re-joining United for €105m in 2016, but he hasn’t kicked a ball in anger this time around after tearing the meniscus in his knee. He has found time for a skiing holiday, though, which caused consternation among the Bianconeri faithful on social media…

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea to Inter Milan on loan for €8m)

Romelu Lukaku’s €115m return to Chelsea from Inter Milan made him perhaps the biggest flop of last season after he returned just eight goals from 26 Premier League games, but he hasn’t been much better this season since moving back to Italy on loan for an €8m fee.

Lukaku’s fitness has been called into question and he now watches on, for the most part, as Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko lead the line. A single goal – against Lecce – in five Serie A games were not what the doctor ordered, and the chances of Inter making his second stay at San Siro permanent appear to be slim to none.

Lukaku has just a single Serie A goal since returning to Inter.

Lukaku has just a single Serie A goal since returning to Inter.

Darwin Nunez (Benfica to Liverpool for €100m)

Ah, Darwin Nunez. The Uruguayan has divided opinion since his big money move to Liverpool from Benfica, and his defenders will point to the fact his nine goals in all competitions have been scored at a rate well inside one every two games.

His xG and goals scored have also been remarkably similar. But for €100m, a striker is expected to outperform their xG, their supposed ability to convert chances that others couldn’t most of the point in paying top dollar for them. Bobby Firmino’s Liverpool future has rarely looked so positive.

Richarlison (Everton to Tottenham for €58m)

Richarlison must be the first Brazil No.9 in living memory who doesn’t get his game in his preferred position at club level, but that is exactly his predicament following his big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur from Everton, with a certain Harry Kane in his way.

Richarlison has only started half of his 10 Premier League games this term, and those have seen him line up on the left or right flank with Kane through the middle. He is yet to open his account in the league and rumours of a speedy move to Real Madrid persist.

Richarlison has 20 goals in 42 games as a Brazil No.9

Richarlison has 20 goals in 42 games as a Brazil No.9

Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea to Real Madrid on a free transfer)

Antonio Rudiger looked he could be the free transfer of the season when he joined Real Madrid from Chelsea, the German defensive stalwart particularly impressive when the Blues won the Champions League under Tuchel in 2021, but it is yet to work out for him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Eder Militao and David Alaba remain Carlo Ancelotti’s first-choice pairing at centre-back and Rudiger has even been smuggled into the team at left-back on occasion. Has avareged less than one block or interception so far.

Rudiger's move to Real Madrid is yet to work out.

Rudiger’s move to Real Madrid is yet to work out.

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