Premier League’s nine worst ever transfers as Lukaku’s Chelsea nightmare comes to an end

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Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan marks the end of his nightmare spell at Chelsea. The £97million man scored just eight Premier League goals during his dire season back in the English capital and now leaves on a loan deal, going down as one of the worst transfers in Premier League history. Here Express Sport looks at the other transfer moves that just went completely wrong. 

Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United and Henrik Mkhitaryan to Arsenal (Swap deal) 

There are few transfer deals in football history worse than the swap deal between Manchester United and Arsenal for Sanchez and Mkhitaryan. Both players flopped at their new clubs and found themselves loaned out to Serie A within 18 months. 

Sanchez was a particularly expensive flop, the forward was rumoured to be earning around £500,000 a week in Manchester, scoring just five goals for that expenditure. Mkhitaryan was not much better, scoring nine times before he was moved on. 


Both players eventually ended up joining their loan sides in free transfers in the summer of 2020. Mkhitaryan joined Roma after his contract was terminated while Sanchez moved on to Inter. A truly horrendous transfer that brought no benefits for anyone involved. 

Angel Di Maria to Manchester United (£59.7m) 

Fresh from a man of the match performance in the 2014 Champions League final, Di Maria seemed like the perfect fit at Old Trafford. The deal was the most expensive transfer ever for an English club at the time and he was expected to act as the long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo

However, the Argentine flopped during his spell in the North-West scoring just four goals. He was sold to PSG in a £44m deal after one season and has had a tense relationship with United fans ever since for comments made in the media. 

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Andy Carroll to Liverpool (£35m) 

With Fernando Torres set to move to Chelsea in a £50m deal, Liverpool were left frantically searching for a replacement on January’s transfer deadline day in 2011. They settled on signing two players, one was the hugely successful Luis Suarez, the other was Carroll. 

In truth, the striker should never have been put in the position he was and flopped at the club as a panic buy. The Geordie scored just 11 goals in 58 games during an injury-hit spell before he was shipped off to West Ham initially on loan before they made it permanent. 

The man he replaced at Liverpool could easily have found himself on this list – but Torres was saved due to his important exploits in Europe. 

Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea (£40m) 

As an important member of Monaco’s Champions League semi-final squad in 2016-17, Bakayoko looked like he would be the perfect player to improve the Blues. He came in as a replacement for the previously impressive Nemanja Matic who was allowed to join Manchester United to make room for the Frenchman. 

However, Bakayoko struggled in the capital with his spell at the club being littered with silly mistakes. Bizarrely he remains on Chelsea’s books despite being loaned out every season since 2018 with the Blues unable to find a buyer, currently halfway through a two-year loan deal at AC Milan.

Eliaquim Mangala to Man City (£42m) 

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Considered one of the brightest young centre-backs in the world when he signed in 2014. It looked as if he could prove to be a successful signing following an impressive debut against Chelsea.

However, this proved to be the high point of his Manchester City career and it was a constant downward spiral afterwards. He eventually joined Valencia on a free transfer in 2019 after an unsuccessful loan at Everton

Kepa Arrizabalaga to Chelsea (£71m) 

Kepa originally looked like he would be a good signing for the London club having put in a string of good performances for the Blues in 2018. 

However, his Chelsea career took a nosedive after he refused to be substituted during the League Cup Final in 2019. Chelsea went on to lose the penalty shootout against Manchester City and Kepa’s confidence went with it. The keeper’s statistics fell off a cliff in the games that followed and he has since been replaced as no 1 by Edouard Mendy. 

Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea (£35m) 

One of N’Golo Kante’s greatest accomplishments will be helping Drinkwater earn a move to Chelsea. The pair struck up an impressive partnership as they won the Premier League with  Leicester in 2016 which Chelsea hoped to continue. 

However, Drinkwater was completely out of his depth at Chelsea, appearing just 23 times at Stamford Bridge. He was regularly loaned out while at the club, slowly sliding down the football pyramid. His most recent move saw him join Championship strugglers Reading. He will finally leave the club at the end of his contract this summer. 

Ali Dia to Southampton (Free) 

The story of Ali Dia is one of the most entertaining and bizarre stories in football history. Somehow the Senegal man managed to convince Southampton manager Graham Souness that he was the cousin of legendary Liberia star George Weah. 

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This was enough to convince Souness to offer Dia a one-month deal in 1996. He made one appearance for the south coast side, coming on as a substitute before being quickly substituted himself, such was the level of his performance. His contract was terminated after 14 days and he moved on to Gateshead where he was transfer-listed within a year for being too poor. He is considered by many to be the worst player to ever play in the Premier League. 

Radamel Falcao to Manchester United and Chelsea (loans) 

Falcao was considered to be one of the best strikers in the world when he signed for Manchester United on loan from Monaco in 2014. However, the Colombian had only recently recovered from a severe ACL injury when he arrived in the north west.

The forward was unable to find any kind of form at Old Trafford and scored just four goals in 29 games. He was considered by many pundits to be one of the worst signings of the season.

Inexplicably Chelsea decided they wanted a piece of the action and brought him in on loan the following season. He was even worse at Stamford Bridge scoring just once in an injury-hit spell. 

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