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By eR The top 10 WORST Premier League signings of the season, including Man Utd’s Donny van de Beek – Man Utd
June 22, 2021

Man Utd

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The top 10 WORST Premier League signings of the season, including Man Utd’s Donny van de Beek

7 min read

With the Premier League season having concluded, it’s now time for reflection.

Even with the transfer market deflated by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of pounds were spent by clubs last summer and in the January transfer window.

Some of the signings were hits, with honourable mentions to Edinson Cavani, Emiliano Martinez and Jesse Lingard – but some were very much misses. Sportsmail takes a look at 10 of the worst in the top flight this campaign.

10. Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid to Arsenal, £45m)

There was a big fanfare among Arsenal fans when they signed Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid on the final day of the delayed summer window on October 5, 2020.

Here was a player who had been at the heart of Atletico’s growth in recent seasons and at 27 was now entering his prime.

UK singer Donae’o even re-released his 2009 hit ‘Party Hard’ to be known as ‘Partey Hard’ in anticipation of the Ghanaian’s arrival.

However, his debut campaign in England has been anything but a celebration. He has missed 17 games through hip, muscle and hamstring injuries and will be hoping those issues don’t resurface next season.

When fit he has shown his capabilities, such as during 1-0 wins at Manchester United and Chelsea, but that needs to happen more often if Arsenal are to even come close to being at least a top-four outfit again.

Thomas Partey hasn't lived up to expectations at Arsenal but has shown glimpses of his ability

Thomas Partey hasn’t lived up to expectations at Arsenal but has shown glimpses of his ability

9. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea to Crystal Palace, loan)

If this were a permanent deal, instead of a loan, then it would have cause to be higher than ninth.

Crystal Palace fans had fond memories of Michy Batshuayi after his first loan spell at Selhurst Park – where he scored six goals in 13 appearances during the latter part of 2018-19.

However, his season-long loan move back to the Eagles this time didn’t prove nearly as fruitful. The striker scored just two goals in 18 appearances for Roy Hodgson’s side in all competitions.

These figures make for worse reading when you consider his first goal came on January 26 and the other on April 5.

Despite his poor club form, the 27-year-old has been chosen as part of Belgium’s Euro 2020 squad. His record for his country this term reads an impressive six goals in four games. Palace fans must be scratching their heads.

Michy Batshuayi scored just two goals in 18 appearances for Crystal Palace while on loan

Michy Batshuayi scored just two goals in 18 appearances for Crystal Palace while on loan

8. Joshua King (Bournemouth to Everton, £5m)

Seventeen months ago, Joshua King was close to re-joining Manchester United. Fast-forward to now and that ship has sailed and his time at Everton could be coming to an end too.

King only joined the Toffees in the January transfer window until the end of the season, with the option of a further season.

But having registered zero goals and zero assists in 11 matches since his arrival, don’t expect the Norwegian forward to be playing for Carlo Ancelotti’s side next term.

Joshua King's move to Everton during the January window yielded no goals and no assists

Joshua King’s move to Everton during the January window yielded no goals and no assists

7. Ozan Kabak (Schalke to Liverpool, loan)

Liverpool’s title defence was dismantled when Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all suffered season-ending injuries.

Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson were used as stop-gaps at centre back until Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp scoured the January transfer window.

His answer? Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak from Schalke. While we can’t judge the former, on the account he hasn’t kicked a ball for the club yet, Kabak’s loan spell was memorable for the wrong reasons.

His howler against Leicester – with Alisson Becker also to blame to giving Jamie Vardy a tap-in into an empty net – probably sums up his time perfectly for the Reds. With the 20-year-old Turkish centre back in their team, Liverpool won just six, drew three and lost four.

He didn’t play in their last five matches and it’s no surprise that the deposed champions won all five – with three of those coming with a clean sheet too.

Loanee Ozan Kabak failed to fill the void in central defence for deposed champions Liverpool

Loanee Ozan Kabak failed to fill the void in central defence for deposed champions Liverpool 

6. Nathan Ake (Bournemouth to Manchester City, £40m)

Nathan Ake can look back on his first season at Manchester City as a Premier League and Carabao Cup winner but that masks a lot of personal disappointment.

The £40m signing has been plagued by injuries since arriving from Bournemouth on August 5, 2020. Just 13 appearances – 10 of which have come in the league – for the Etihad outfit alongside his lofty price tag doesn’t make for great reading.

That translates to £4million a game in the Premier League. 

City have had issues at left back all campaign but the 26-year-old hasn’t been considered as a viable solution there. With Ruben Dias imperious and John Stones revitalised, Ake is fourth in their centre-back hierarchy too when you consider Aymeric Laporte’s stock.

Nathan Ake has been blighted by injury problems since joining Manchester City this season

Nathan Ake has been blighted by injury problems since joining Manchester City this season

5. Terence Kongolo (Huddersfield to Fulham, £4m)

Fulham had signed Terence Kongolo on loan the season before and decided to bring him in permanently despite injury in just his second game curtailing his campaign.

So the warning signs were there, yet Fulham needed options in defence and brought Kongolo in for a fee in the region of £4million.

And what happened? You guessed it. He got injured at the start of the season and missed a huge chunk of it and just when he was due to return he picked up another problem.

Kongolo finally made his first appearance for Fulham in the top-flight in the 1-0 defeat against Wolves.

That would turn out to be his one and only league game for them as knee surgery ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

Scott Parker will hope he will be available a lot more next season as they bid to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. 

Fulham's £4m summer signing Terence Kongolo played just one league game all season

Fulham’s £4m summer signing Terence Kongolo played just one league game all season

4. Karlan Grant (Huddersfield to West Brom, £15m)

£15million is a lot of dough to splash out on a new striker for a newly-promoted club.

One goal in 21 games is probably not the kind of return West Brom would have had in mind when they decided to spend that much on Karlan Grant. 

Having a goalscorer is essential for any club to be able to survive in the Premier League, which is why West Brom plucked for Grant, who had done well in a struggling Huddersfield side in the Championship the season before.

Unfortunately it didn’t work out in his first season at the club, but West Brom can take comfort from the fact that Grant is more of a long-term investment having tied him down for his best years.

The 23-year-old signed a six-year deal when he joined last summer so has five remaining and West Brom will hope he can rediscover his scoring touch back down in the Championship to bring them back up again next term. 

West Brom splashed out £15million on Karlan Grant but he only managed one goal all season

West Brom splashed out £15million on Karlan Grant but he only managed one goal all season

3. Willian (Chelsea to Arsenal, free)

Has a free transfer ever been more despised by a club’s fanbase? Willian’s move from Chelsea to Arsenal wasn’t the first time these bitter rivals have done business but it’s probably the final straw for fans of the latter.

After a brilliant debut against Fulham, where he set up all three goals in a 3-0 win, Willian’s form slumped.

Arsenal supporters have been left scratching their head at his input all season. The 32-year-old only scored once in 37 appearances for Mikel Arteta’s side this season – and that came on May 9 in a 3-1 win over West Brom.

Following his hat-trick of assists against Fulham, the Brazilian was only able to contribute a further four assists.

Willian has another two years on his £220,000-a-week contract. Arsenal fans will demand better value for money or things could get more toxic at the Emirates.

Willian has endured a frustrating season at Arsenal - with fans angry at his lack of output

Willian has endured a frustrating season at Arsenal – with fans angry at his lack of output

2. Donny van de Beek (Ajax to Manchester United, £40m)

Just like his Dutch compatriot Ake, Donny van de Beek’s impact this season has been limited to the point of negligible.

However, this isn’t down to injuries – this is down to the decision of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Solskjaer and the United hierarchy shelled out £40million for Van de Beek’s services from Ajax on September 2, 2020.

He looked set to take the place of Paul Pogba in the Red Devils midfield but now finds himself essentially sixth in the pecking order (behind Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic).

The 23-year-old’s signing is looking increasingly bizarre considering Solskjaer consistently doesn’t start him and when he does get some minutes it’s just fleeting at the end of a match.

It’s just one goal and two assists from 36 mostly substitute appearances so far. 

Man United fans have been left scratching their heads at why Donny van de Beek was bought

Man United fans have been left scratching their heads at why Donny van de Beek was bought

1. Rhian Brewster (Liverpool to Sheffield United, £24m)

The numbers make for grim reading. A club-record £24m signing, 31 games and zero goals in all competitions.

Those are Rhian Brewster’s figures this season at Sheffield United. After a lack of opportunities at Liverpool, the 21-year-old England U17 World Cup winner (and top goalscorer) took the plunge for regular football at Sheffield United.

However, the season has been a nightmare for the striker. His performances aside, Sheffield United suffered relegation, finishing bottom of the Premier League table with just 20 points.

The striker’s goal-shy output was a microcosm of the team’s displays. David McGoldrick – who is anything but prolific – was their top goalscorer with nine goals this season and was only one of four players to score more than twice.

Brewster only turned 21 last month and his time should come. The Blades will hope he can propel them back to the top flight next season.

Rhian Brewster cost Sheffield United a club-record £24m but failed to score once for the club

Rhian Brewster cost Sheffield United a club-record £24m but failed to score once for the club

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