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Neymar, Sanchez, Torres and the worst transfers of the decade

16:00 GMT+4 31/12/2019
Neymar Sanchez GFX
Goal examines some of the poor decisions made by Europe's biggest clubs over the past 10 years...

A foray into the transfer market represents an exciting time for a club and its supporters as new blood is added to help achieve the team's goals.

But not all purchases work out, with players failing to settle in their new homes, struggling on the field or not justifying the money spent on their services.

From Neymar joining PSG in a world record deal to Alexis Sanchez's incredible wages during his flop at Manchester United Goal selects the worst transfers from 2010 to the end of 2019...

  • Bebe Manchester United

    Bebe | Vitoria to Manchester United | £7.4m

    "On this occasion I didn’t watch him," Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted after signing Bebe. "It is the first time I have done it. Normally I see plenty of video footage but our scouting department is very good and sometimes you have to go on instinct."

    In this case, the instinct was definitely wrong as United decided to sign Bebe from Portuguese club Vitoria in 2010 with rumours that Real Madrid and other European clubs were interested.

    The attacker had grown up in a homeless shelter after being abandoned by his parents and it was a nice story to see him end up at the Theatre of Dreams.

    Bebe made seven appearances in his first season at Old Trafford, scoring in the League Cup and Champions League, but it was clear he still needed plenty of development.

    He had loan spells at Besiktas, Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira over the next three seasons, but the Red Devils decided to cut their losses and sold the forward to Benfica in 2014, with the player becoming something of a punchline since his departure.

    The now-29-year-old is currently plying his trade in the Spanish Segunda Division for Rayo Vallecano but has also played in La Liga for the Madrid club and Eibar.

  • Danny Drinkwater Chelsea

    Danny Drinkwater | Leicester City to Chelsea | £35m

    After forming an incredible midfield partnership with N'Golo Kante to help drive Leicester City to the 2015-16 Premier League title, Drinkwater decided it was time to move to a bigger club and joined Chelsea on a five-year deal under Antonio Conte.

    But the England international struggled to settle at Stamford Bridge and only made 12 appearances in his first season as he quickly found himself low down in the midfield pecking order behind Kante, Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

    The appointment of Maurizio Sarri in 2018-19 failed to change Drinkwater's fortunes at the Blues and his substitute appearance in the Community Shield was his only game time of the season.

    The 29-year-old is currently on loan at Burnley but has only made one league start as he battles to establish himself as a starting midfielder again.

  • Roberto Soldado Tottenham

    Roberto Soldado | Valencia to Tottenham | £26m

    Tottenham thought they had secured a coup when they signed Spanish forward Roberto Soldado from Valencia in a club record deal, surpassing the €19.9m paid for Paulinho earlier in the window.

    The centre-forward had been a prolific scorer in La Liga, scoring an incredible 24 league goals for Los Che the season before he moved to England.

    Soldado had also broken back into the Spain team and scored against Uruguay in the 2013 Confederations Cup just prior to committing his future to Tottenham.

    But the striker never found his feet in the Premier League and only managed seven top-flight goals across two seasons in north London before he was allowed to return to La Liga with Villarreal in an €11.7m deal.

  • HD Wilfried Bony Manchester City

    Wilfried Bony | Swansea City to Manchester City | £28m

    When Manchester City signed Bony from Swansea City in January 2015, he was the Premier League's top scorer in the previous calendar year with 20 goals.

    The €29.3m fee paid was, at the time, the most amount of money ever paid for an African footballer and he joined up with City's squad in February after winning the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

    Bony became the understudy to the prolific Sergio Aguero and struggled to get into any rhythm while not consistently starting matches.

    After scoring six league goals in 36 appearances for City across two campaigns, the striker was loaned to Stoke City. A return to Swansea followed and he dropped into the Championship with his the Welsh side once they were relegated.

    Bony is currently without a team after a stint in Qatar last season.

  • Thomas Lemar Atletico Madrid 2019

    Thomas Lemar | Monaco to Atletico Madrid | €60m

    An exciting winger, Lemar was reportedly sought after by Liverpool and Arsenal prior to the 2017-18 season after scoring nine goals in Ligue 1 for Monaco.

    While a move to the Premier League never materialised, Lemar earned a place in the France national team and was a part of the team that lifted the 2018 World Cup, despite only making one appearance.

    Atletico came calling for Lemar after he became a world champion in Russia, with the attacker moving to the La Liga club as speculation raged about Antoine Griezmann's future.

    Lemar battled to only three league goals in his first campaign in Spain's capital and is currently yet to score in 21 appearances this season, with Griezmann having departed to Barcelona in the summer.

  • Neymar PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2019-20

    Neymar | Barcelona to PSG | €222m

    Since making his shock move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar's individual record stands up among the best, with 60 goals and 35 assists across 70 appearances for the French champions in all competitions.

    The Brazil international has also won two Ligue 1 titles and claimed both French Cups during his two-and-half seasons at Parc des Princes.

    But Neymar was recruited by PSG to help them win the Champions League - something he has not managed to deliver.

    He was absent with injury in the second leg as PSG were eliminated 5-2 on aggregate by eventual champions Real Madrid in the last 16 in 2018.

    Twelve months later, fitness issues again prevented the star attacker to play in either leg as the French giants were stunned by Manchester United in the first knockout stage.

    A transfer saga followed during the recent summer window, with Neymar yearning for a move back to Barcelona. Having failed to secure his departure, he now has a chance at redemption this season, with PSG drawn against Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 this time around.

  • Paco Alcacer Barcelona Malaga LaLiga 19112016

    Paco Alcacer | Valencia to Barcelona | €30m

    Spain striker Alcacer was brought to Barcelona for a €30m fee from Valencia after hitting double figures goals in two consecutive La Liga seasons.

    However, he came into the Blaugrana squad as the team's fourth-choice attacker behind Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and struggled to establish himself as a regular in the team's front line.

    Alcacer scored 15 goals in 50 appearances for Barca but only made 15 league starts during this time.

    He was eventually sent out on loan to Borussia Dortmund, where he scored 12 goals in 14 Bundesliga matches before the German club decided to make the transfer permanent.

  • Memphis Depay Manchester United

    Memphis Depay | PSV to Manchester United | £31m

    Depay registered on the radar of Manchester United as he blitzed the Eredvisie for PSV and ended up finishing as the league's top scorer with 22 goals in 2015.

    He was brought to Old Trafford, along with Anthony Martial, in the hope that the duo would form a devastating partnership in attack over the seasons to come.

    Depay was given plenty of opportunity in this first campaign at United, making 29 Premier League appearances but only managed by two goals as he struggled to adjust to English football.

    The Netherlands international was sold to Ligue 1 club Lyon after a little over 12 months at Old Trafford and has found his feet over the past couple of seasons to be appointed captain and become a prolific scorer.

    The now-25-year-old has also become a key figure in his national team - helping the Netherlands to the recent UEFA Nations League final.

  • Mario Balotelli Liverpool 16052015

    Mario Balotelli | AC Milan to Liverpool | £16m

    With Liverpool falling heartbreakingly short of that elusive Premier League title during the 2013-14 season, coach Brendan Rodgers decided to take a punt on enigma Balotelli by signing him from Milan.

    At his best, the Italian was one of the world's most devastating strikers and also a Premier League winner with Manchester City in the past, but too often suffered from disciplinary issues on and off the field that seemed to affect his form.

    Despite scoring on his Reds Champions League debut, Balotelli struggled to become a first-team regular and did not score a league goal until February, which proved to be his only one for the club.

    He was loaned back to Milan the following season, where he again only managed one league goal, before Liverpool decided to release him on a free to Ligue 1 club Nice.

  • Manchester United’s most expensive transfers of all time | Angel Di Maria

    Angel Di Maria | Real Madrid to Manchester United | £59.7m

    After a horrible first season without Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, which culminated in the dismissal of David Moyes, Red Devils fans were excited when Louis van Gaal was able to prise Di Maria away from Madrid.

    The Argentine was the head of a solid-looking list of signings that included Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind.

    Di Maria started with three goals and three assists in his first five Premier League matches but by the end of the season he was only being used a subsititute with his contributions in front of goal drying up.

    With his form so poor for most of the season, United decided to sell Di Maria to PSG for €51.5m at the end of his first season at Old Trafford - an amount that represented a significant loss.

  • Leonardo Bonucci Juventus Milan Coppa Italia 05092018

    Leonardo Bonucci | Juventus to AC Milan | €41.1m

    The powerhouse Italian central defender won six consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus, forming a rock of a partnership with Giorgio Chiellini, before deciding to head to Milan for a new challenge in 2017.

    After signing a five-year deal, Bonucci was named skipper and expected to lead the Rossoneri up the table, with the club having not won a league title since 2010-11.

    However, Bonucci struggled to perform consistently at San Siro as Milan finished sixth in the Serie A standings - a position they had not bettered since 2012-13.

    He re-joined Juventus after only one season in the Italian fashion captial and won the 2018-19 league title with the Old Lady.

  • Fernando Torres Chelsea 2011-12

    Fernando Torres | Liverpool to Chelsea | £50m

    When Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool in January 2011, he was regarded as one of the Premier League's most lethal strikers.

    The Spaniard had scored an incredible 56 goals in 79 English top-flight matches prior to his final campaign with the Reds.

    After a lean season up to the January transfer window by his standards, with only nine goals in 23 matches, Torres was sold to Chelsea after Liverpool rejected their first bid, which resulted in the player handing in a transfer request.

    However at his new home of Stamford Bridge, Torres immediately struggled to be prolific, with ony one league goal for the the Blues in the second half of the season.

    He followed by failing to hit 10 league goals in his next three Chelsea campaigns before he was loaned to AC Milan and Atletico Madrid; eventually being sold back to the latter.

  • Philippe Coutinho Barcelona

    Philippe Coutinho | Liverpool to Barcelona | €120 million

    After coming of age at Liverpool in 2016-17 with 13 goals and seven assists, Philippe Coutinho became one of Europe's hottest properties and headed to Barcelona in January 2018.

    The Brazilian was expected to slot in on the left wing and dominate in a forward trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

    However, Coutinho failed to excel alongside his illustrious team-mates, and after a season-and-half was deemed surplus to requirements with only 21 goals in 76 appearances.

    Barcelona decided to loan Coutinho to Bayern Munich and bring in Antoine Griezmann as a direct replacement.

  • Andy Carroll Liverpool

    Andy Carroll | Newcastle to Liverpool | £35m

    After losing Fernando Torres in January 2011, Liverpool decided to splash the cash to bring in Newcastle target man Andy Carroll as his replacement.

    But the bustling English striker only managed to score in one Reds game for the rest of the season under manager Kenny Dalglish.

    The Scottish manager tried to get better service for Carroll by acquring Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson for the next season.

    However, Carroll continued to struggle to get goals, scoring only four times across 35 Premier League matches.

    Liverpool eventually decided to cut their losses and loan Carroll to West Ham before he was sold permanently for the 2013-14 season.

  • Alexis Sanchez Manchester United 2018-19

    Alexis Sanchez | Arsenal to Manchester United | Swap deal

    Alexis Sanchez took the Premier League by storm for Arsenal in 2016-17, scoring 24 goals to elevate himself into the bracket with the best strikers in the world.

    With the Gunners not looking likely to challenge for honours any time soon and the Chile star's contract running down, Sanchez decided to move to Manchester United in January 2018 in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way.

    But with Sanchez earning wages around €410,000-per-week, the pressure was on from him to immediately perform at Old Trafford and help the team compete for trophies.

    However, the attacker never looked at home at the Theatre of Dreams and scored only five goals in 45 appearances while spending long chunks of the season sidelined by injury.

    Not only that, but his extortionate wages saw the likes of David de Gea and Marcus Rashford struggle to agree new contracts, with the Sanchez deal threatening to strip the United dressing room of its star players while the forward himself failed to live up to the hype.

    Eventually United got some of the Sanchez wage off their books by loaning him to Inter for the 2019-20 season.