Antony, a 22-year-old trickster, got a perfect start to life at Old Trafford after scoring on his debut against Arsenal in September.
He went on to score in 3 consecutive premier league appearances at Everton and City. But he has since failed to be directly effective for the red devils, as he has not scored nor assisted any goal in the premier league since October.
Antony now joins Sancho, Maguire and Pogba on the list of players who have struggled to make justifications for the big amounts paid for their acquisition. It might be quite unfair to label Antony and Sancho as failures already, but it doesn’t look good for them either, as the fans are becoming desperately worried about their inability to hit the ground running.
When a club manages to sign a world-class talent, paying a huge transfer fee in the process, it comes with major excitement, anticipation and promises of many good things to come. However, it doesn’t always work out for the best. It barely ever works out for the best.
Several of the all-time most expensive transfers in football have turned out to be flops and cost their clubs great fortune. The mystery surrounding the misfortunes of big money moves is difficult to unravel, but there are a few possible contributing factors.
High Expectations: Heavy price tags beget enormous expectations, sometimes unrealistic ones. An instant impact is demanded of players when they come highly rated.
Media Pressure: Negativity sells, and the media is constantly lurking, waiting for the next available ‘scapegoat’. Highest-profile players are the easiest to target because of their gigantic price tags. Their mistakes are amplified, while positives are brushed aside. This leads to increased pressure to perform.
Crazy transfer market: Maybe the players are just victims of an inflated transfer market, and not worth that price. Sometimes, an attempt to land a reinforcement ahead of rivals can lead to an unreasonable transfer decision. Clubs overpay for players, and this makes it almost impossible for their good to be seen as it should be.
Here are some of the worst big-money transfers in football history.
Antoine Griezman – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (2019): Huge stakes for the worst transfer of all time, Griezman to Barca is one move the club wishes it never happened, and one of the greatest undoings of the former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Barca triggered Griezman’s release clause in the summer of 2019, a move that a number of the existing players reportedly kicked against. The Frenchman had a generally miserable time of it in his two years at Camp Nou and was put on a contract so big that it eventually contributed to the club not being able to commit to a new contract for Lionel Messi.
Barcelona lost their greatest ever player, Lionel Messi due to the financial mess they’d put themselves in, and in the end, decided to cut their loss on Griezman too.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid (2019): After a highly successful spell at Chelsea, Hazard joined Madrid as a marquee replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, in the order of the great Galactico signings.
The Belgian who retired from international football at the end of the Qatar 2022 world cup has been nothing but a colossal waste at the Bernabeu. Hazard has struggled with injuries and lack of form since his arrival in the 2019/20 season. Indeed, he has only been available for just under 40% (73 games) of games since then, scoring 7 goals. He will be looking for the next possible escape route, as it’s evident that it won’t work here.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (2018): Following Neymar’s traumatic departure from Camp Nou, they needed a quick replacement for him, and perhaps, fellow Brazilian, Coutinho could be that guy. But they learnt it the hard way, Coutinho was simply not Neymar.
Despite showing little flashes in his first two seasons, it was evident Coutinho had no place in the team. He was loaned out to Bayern Munich, where he struggled to make his mark, although he played an active role in their UEFA champions league triumph of 2019/20 knocking out Barcelona on the way.
Coutinho went back to Catalonia and remained virtually unsellable due to his wages, until Aston Villa took him back to the Premier League on loan in January 2022, before making the move permanent in the summer.
Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United (2016): Pogba’s case will forever remain a case of unfulfilled potential. The French midfielder could only show his best form for very brief spells in the six years of his second stint at Old Trafford.
Pogba, a United Academy graduate, once left the club for free to join Juventus. In a few years, he grew into one of the best midfielders in Europe, earning him an £89m move back to United. His time at United was marred with inconsistencies, injuries, tantrums, and a continued narrative of “I don’t like it here”.
He eventually left on a free transfer in the summer of 2022. And yes, to Juventus again.
RomeluLukaku – Inter to Chelsea (2021): When Lukaku secured a move back to Chelsea, a club he had loved since he was young, he admitted he had some unfinished business. Ask him today, and he would wish he left that business unfinished.
Just months into his return, Big Rom granted an interview with Sky Italia about how much he missed Inter & moaned about not being played to his strengths at Chelsea, before being frozen out of the team by Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea, now desperate to part ways with the Belgian, has now shifted Lukaku back to Inter for a loan fee around a tenth of the transfer fee agreed a year earlier.
Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid (2019): The most recent example of a club admitting they have got a big investment wrong is with Atletico Madrid and Joao Felix, with the Portuguese having been sent out on loan to Chelsea for the second half of the 2022/23 season.
34 goals in 131 games during his time at Atletico is simply not the vibe they expected from “the best since Ronaldo”.
Maybe an expensive transfer fee is a trap nobody should fall for.