Yaya Sanogo leaves Arsenal – But who are the other Premier League flops?

Yaya Sanogo has finally left Arsenal. And the fanfare in the British media highlighting him as one of the biggest Premier League flops in history is laughable. Yes, he did not do much in his time at the club, but it should always be remember that he did cost Arsenal nothing.

He was essentially a youth team player who failed to play a game. There are hundred of Yaya Sanogo’s who have joined a Premier League club for a free transfer (or nominal fee) and done nothing. I guess it just shows, stories about Arsenal sell.

In the interest of fairness, I decided to write a few words on some strikers who have failed to make the grade at top clubs, some of which were much more expensive flops than Yaya Sanogo, and all of whom garner less criticism than the Frenchman.

I will start with the man himself…

Yaya Sanogo – Arsenal – Free Transfer

On paper, Yaya Sanogo joining Arsenal should not have made headlines.

A 20 year old French youth international signed on a free transfer. A risk free punt. If it pays off, it is a sign of ArseneWenger’s genius in spotting top young talent. If it does not pay off, well no one really know about him, he would be forgotten about quickly and we would move on.

The problem with the Sanogo signing is the circumstances he came in under.

The summer of 2013, arsenal begun it by courting Stevan Jovetic, quickly moved on to Gonzalo Higuain, and finally settled on Luis Suarez, activating his release clause. Liverpool stood firm. Arsenal ended up with just Sanogo.

The reality is Arsenal should have secured one of the above mentioned names, and Sanogo should have gone into the youth team, but we cocked it up and Sanogo was suddenly thrust into the limelight. A figurehead of everything that had gone wrong in the summer.

Sanogo actually ended up playing 20 games for Arsenal, scoring 1 goal. 1 curious performance was when he was picked to start against Bayern Munich. He also played 120 minutes of the 2014 FA Cup semi final against Wigan.

Whilst he did almost nothing in his career, Arsenal fans should always be grateful to Sanogo for winning the corner that led to our equaliser against Hull City with 19 minutes to go of the 2014 FA Cup semi final.

Sanogo leaves Arsenal with an FA Cup winners medal (more than what Harry Kane has won at Spurs).

He might not have had the career at Arsenal he would have dreamed of, but it should always be remembered he cost nothing. A flop. But an inexpensive one.

Bebe – Manchester United – £7.4m

Sir Alex Ferguson famously spent £7.4m on Portuguese striker Bebe without ever having seen him play.

Bebe joined Portuguese top-flight side Vitoria on a free transfer from Estrela da Amadora in 2010 and played well in their pre-season friendlies, scoring 5 goals in six games. A few weeks later Manchester United made their move, signing the street kid.

Just two league starts for Manchester United in 4 years, Bebe was loaned out 4 times before joining Benfica who then loaned him out within 6 months. Two years and two loan deals later, Bebe found himself on the move again, joining Spanish side Eibar in 2016.

Spending £7.4m on a player you have never seen play is one hell of a risk. A risk that never paid off for Sir Alex Ferguson. At least Sanogo was a free transfer.

Iago Aspas – Liverpool – £7m

In 2013, Liverpool signed 26 year old Iago Aspas from Celta Vigo for a fee in the region of £7m off the back of a single season in La Liga.

Aspas played 14 league games for Liverpool, failing to score a single goal.

A year later he was sold to Sevilla, who immediately sold him on to Celta Vigo where he has recently re-found his scoring touch.

Fabio Borini – Liverpool – £10.5m

The second Liverpool flop on this list.

Fabio Borini was Brendan Rodgers’ first signing when he joined Liverpool for £10.5m from Roma. Big things were expected of the former Chelsea trainee.

2012/13 saw 1 goal in 13 games saw him loaned out to Sunderland for the 2013/14 season. Mysteriously, Borini was not sold by Liverpool after his poor spell on loan and in 2014/15 was once again part of the Liverpool first team squad. 1 goal in 12 games led him to have the fabulous record of 2 league goals in 25 league games for Liverpool.

Somehow Liverpool managed to recoup nearly all of their money for the Italian when they sold him to Sunderland for £8m, despite 3 poor seasons in the Premier League. I guess signings like Borini is why Sunderland went down.

When you add in Aspas, Liverpool spent £17.5m on 2 strikers who scored 2 league goals between them.

Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea – £17m

When you have millions to spend on players, no need to balance the books, and a sugar daddy with pockets that are amongst the deepest in the world, you can spend big on the likes of Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres for a combined £100m and get very little return.

Whilst both of these are often labeled as expensive flops due to their return against their cost and hype, they did score 67 goals between them.

Romelu Lukaku was a different case.

Signed in 2011 for £17m from Anderlecht, he was immediately labeled as the next Didier Drogba, due to the fact he was a big, black striker.

In his first season at Chelsea, he struggled to make a start, playing just 8 league games and not hitting the net once. He was loaned out to WBA where he showed his ability – scoring 17 goals in 35 games.

A couple more games at the start of the 2013/14 season also failed to see a goal materialise and he was then loaned at once more – this time to Everton. 15 goals in 31 games was still not good enough for Chelsea to give him the chance and he was sold to Everton for £28m. A nice profit for a player who had failed to make the grade.

Last season he scored 25 goals in 37 games, which ha sled rumours of a big money move back to Chelsea this summer – likely in the region of £60-70m.

His transformation into one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premier League has made people forget about his Chelsea years. But there is no doubt if you spend £17m on a striker to only play him 15 times in all competitions over 3 years (and get no goals from it), he is a flop.

Lukaku could go on to be one of the highest scoring strikers in Premier League history. It makes it even more stupid that Chelsea signed him for so much and did not play him.

Jo – Manchester City – £19m

Brazilian striker Jo was signed in July 2008 under the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. 2 months after he signed for the club, Manchester City were sold and Robinho was signed.

At the time, Jo was being courted by many around Europe, seen as the next big striker to come out of Brazil.

His stay at Manchester City saw him loaned out 3 times (twice to Everton!). In 21 league games for the Citizens, he scored just once, and in 2011 he returned to Brazil.

Hélder Postiga – Tottenham – £8m

Under Jose Mourinho at Porto, 20 year old Helder Postiga led the line as the Portuguese outfit won a historic treble. Postiga scoring 19 goals in the process.

What followed was a big money move to Tottenham, as the North London club declared they had signed the new Thierry Henry.

As it turned out, Spurs had secured an average player who only got 71 caps for Portugal because there were no other options.

In his time at Spurs – 1 year to be exact, Postiga playued 24 games and scored just twice. He was sold back to Porto with Spurs recouping most of their original outlay.

Grzegorz Rasiak – Tottenham – £3m

On the final day of the 2005 summer transfer window, Tottenham Hotspur spent £3m on Derby County’s Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak.

Rasiak had failed to fire Derby to promotion out of the transfer window, and, under pressure to raise cash to keep the club afloat, Derby sold him to Tottenham.

Rasiak was at Spurs for just 143 days – starting 5 games; scoring 0 goals – before he was loaned (and later sold) to Southampton.

Like many of these players, he is not an expensive flop, but a flop none the less.


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