Five of the worst value for money signings in the Premier League

The transfer market drives a lot of Premier League clubs to pay a premium for their prime targets and despite the large fees, players often do not live up to the expectations their price tag places on them.

Here are five Premier League signings that were terrible value for money…

Paul Pogba

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Manchester United made the mistake of letting Paul Pogba leave in 2012 on a free transfer. The Frenchman started to blossom at Juventus, and quickly became one of the best midfielders in the world. Manchester United made it a priority to re-sign him and in a transfer saga that seemed to last a lifetime, United finally secured the re-signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus for a fee of €105m.

It is fair to say that they did not get value for money. Fans was critical and his performances were heavily scrutinised by pundits. Pogba battled ongoing injury issues and only made 154 appearances in six years in Manchester. In July 2022, Pogba returned to Juventus, again on a free transfer, leaving Manchester United red-faced for a second time.

Tanguy Ndombele

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Tottenham signed Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for €62m. Acentral midfielder from France with a lot of potential, he made 29 appearances with two goals and four assists in all competitions during his first season. He had another year and a half at Tottenham but failed to impress and in January 2022 he re-joined Lyon on loan, but only made 11 appearances for the French side.

Last season he was again loaned out to Napoli in Serie A. Ndombele made 40 appearances in all competitions, scoring once and assisting once; albeit he was a part of Napoli’s title winning season. Ange Postecoglou came in as Tottenham manager and Ndombele was shipped out on loan for a third time this summer, this time to Turkish outfit Galatasaray. Ndombele has struggled to adapt to the Premier League but has shown he is more than capable of playing in other leagues around Europe. It appears there is no way back for him at Tottenham, and the money initially spent on him has been a waste.

Nicolas Pepe

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When Nicolas Pepe broke through at Lille, he looked like one of the most exciting wingers in Europe. Arsenal won the race for his services and forked out €80m to secure his signature. This was met with a lot of excitement from Arsenal fans, given his potential.

Across four years at Arsenal, Pepe played 80 times, scoring 16 goals. A poor return for the amount of money he was bought for. Last season he was loaned out to Nice in Ligue 1, scoring six in 19 appearances. In September 2023, Pepe’s Arsenal contract was mutually terminated and he was signed on a free transfer by Turkish side Trabzonspor. A signing that clearly didn’t work out, with Arsenal getting little back on their investment.

Romelu Lukaku

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Romelu Lukaku has had a turbulent time at Stamford Bridge. He first joined Chelsea in 2011, and had successful loan spells with West Bromwich Albion and Everton, with the latter being made permanent. Manchester United sparked interest in the Belgium international, and Jose Mourinho signed him in 2017 before he moved on again to Inter Milan. After impressing in Italy, Lukaku signed pen to paper at Chelsea and was back for a second spell, signing for €113m.

In his first season back at Chelsea, Lukaku made 26 appearances, scoring eight goals as Chelsea finished third. But his return to the Blues was overshadowed by an interview with Italian media in which he revealed he was unhappy at the club. After just one season, Lukaku was sent back to Inter Milan on loan and by the time he arrived back in England, Mauricio Pochettino had taken the reigns at Chelsea and Lukaku was deemed surplus to requirements.

He is still a Chelsea player, but Lukaku is back in Italy on loan again with Roma. The squad churn has been frantic and expensive, begging the question as to whether Lukaku will ever play for Chelsea again?

Angel Di Maria

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Angel Di Maria joined Manchester United from Real Madrid for €75m. As one of the most highly rated players in the world, it was a signing that stood out to fans of Manchester United and the Premier League. He scored a wonderful chip against Leicester City to open his account, but after less than a year at Old Trafford he was sold to PSG.

In a strange period of his career, Di Maria scored three goals in 27 appearances and was incredibly forgettable. He failed to make an impact in a poor Manchester United team, who were struggling under Louis Van Gaal and were still failing to adjust to the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. A lot more was expected from a player of Di Maria’s calibre. A blip in what is a very successful career.

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