The world of transfers in football is full of mistakes, no club can do that 100%. However, some clubs have more experience with failures than others, whether it’s spending a mountain of money on a player (Real Madrid), constantly making bad decisions in certain positions (Man United) or giving their megastar a new contract just before its form fades (Arsenal).

Since 2010, all major clubs in Europe have made mistakes. These are some of the biggest mistakes made in the transfer market over the last decade.

ARSENAL: Spend £72 million to sign Pepe.

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When an internal investigation is conducted to find out if you paid too much for a club membership, you know it’s bad. The £72 million would have been spread over five years, allowing Arsenal Nicolas Pepe to sign, but put them in debt when the winger could not live up to his price on the pitch. Raul Sanllehi resigned as Arsenal boss shortly after the investigation was revealed, but he has already offered a three-year contract to 32-year-old Willian and a four-year contract to 29-year-old Cedric Suarez. Both decisions were worse than the decision to give banished Mesut Özil a new contract of around £350,000 a week in January 2018 (making him the highest paid player in the club’s history).

Hold on a second: We have to go back to 2016, under former coach Arsene Wenger, to find the worst transfer decisions at Arsenal: Release Serge Gnabry and sign Granit Xhaka (£35 million), Shkodran Mustafi (£35 million) and Lucas Perez (£17.1 million) the same summer. Gnabry was allowed to join Werder Bremen for around £5 million and has since moved to Bayern, where he has become one of the best players in the world, while the newly formed trio has failed to impress. Wenger also helped Robin van Persie with the move to Man United for £24 million in 2012, where the injured striker won the title at the first attempt, but no one could have predicted it.

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Julien Laurent responds to Lionel Messi’s recent comments on his future in Barcelona after this summer.

BARCELONA: Expenditure of more than €420 million on four players

FC Barcelona’s debt has doubled to 488 million euros as a result of the COWID-19 pandemic, but significant financial irregularities have been detected within the club over the years. Just look at some of the transfer fees spent on players who didn’t make it. Atlético de Madrid received 120 million euros for Antoine Griezmann in 2019, for which Barca had to take out a loan; Malcom cost Bordeaux 40 million euros the year before; Ousmane Dembele (105 million euros) and Philippe Coutinho (160 million euros) failed. Add to that some expensive players like Arda Turan, Paco Alcacer and André Gomez who have had little impact and you see why the club is in such a precarious financial situation.

Hold on a second: Luis Suarez leave for nothing this summer, at a direct competitor, was not the best solution. First he irritated his best friend Lionel Messi, then the way he was treated was a public relations nightmare. Finally, the 33-year-old player has scored eight goals in 11 games to lead Atletico to La Liga glory at a time when Barça is in crisis.

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World soccer player of the year Robert Lewandowski talks about the victory in the era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

BAVARIA MUNICH: Signed Sanch de Benfica.

Bayern has always been keen to stay within budget; only the transfer of 80 million euros from Atletico Madrid in 2019 by Lucas Hernandez broke the transfer record of 40 million euros set by Javi Martinez in 2012, and they rarely spend much money. But Renato Sanchez could overshadow them both if his $35 million move, with an additional $45 million as extras, away from Benfica in 2016 goes according to plan. Bayern was right not to pay everything in advance when the Portuguese teenager failed and came on loan to Swansea, but they also made a bad bet with the 18-year-old.

Hold on a second: Nor has the abovementioned Lucas agreement been concluded and the Spanish international has not shown good value for money. The move of Mario Gotze from Dortmund, which cost 37 million euros, seemed a good idea, but he never lived up to expectations (despite winning seven trophies in his three years at the club).

DORTMUND BURUSSIA: Let Lewandowski free himself.

Dortmund has done well in the transfer market in recent years and has brought in players such as Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reina for almost nothing. But there was a time in this decade when they couldn’t stop their Bayern rivals from bringing in their best players: Mats Hummels, Mario Götze and the crown jewel, Robert Lewandowski. Since his departure from Dortmund in 2014, the Polish attacker is one of the best in history, and the worst thing is that he is on transfer fees. Dortmund had a chance to get him to sign a new contract, but they failed and have regretted it ever since.

Hold on a second: The German winger Andre Schurrle came to Dortmund in 2016 for about 30 million euros, but made no impression and was loaned to Fulham and Spartak Moscow. He then announced his retirement at the age of 29 before his contract expires in 2020. That summer Götze also came back from Bavaria for 22 million euros, which also did not work.

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World footballer of the year Robert Lewandowski celebrates the victory of the era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

CHELSEA: Let De Bruyne and Sala go.

In January 2012 Chelsea signed a £7 million contract with Belgian club Genk for midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, which was on loan to Werder Bremen for the 2012/13 season. After impressing in the Bundesliga, his return to England will surely give him a chance to shine, won’t it? Wrong. Director Jose Mourinho failed to recognise his talent and in January 2014 allowed him to settle permanently in Wolfsburg for around £18 million. After only 18 months, Man City paid around £55 million to sign him and he is now the best offensive midfielder in world football.

Unfortunately for her, Chelsea didn’t learn from that mistake. In January 2014, the Blues announced a £11 million contract for a relatively unknown Egyptian winger, Mohamed Salah of Swiss football club Basel. Three years later, after only 19 matches and two loans to Fiorentina and Roma, he moved to Roma for about £12 million. After an incredible season, Liverpool brought him to around £36.9 million and made him one of the best strikers in the world. Imagine if Chelsea could have played with Sala and De Bruyne in the same team….

Hold on a second: Imagine spending a record £71.6 million on a goalkeeper and then, just two years later, on a substitute goalkeeper. Kepa Arrizabalaga has made a good start to his career at Chelsea since joining Athletic Bilbao in 2018, but his shape has fallen off a cliff in recent months, enough to convince the club to spend £20 million on Rennes’ Edouard Mendy. The Senegalese international kept a clean slate in ten of his first 16 appearances, the same number as Kepa in 45 games under Frank Lampard. The Chelsea are very well placed in this section – £60m for Alvaro Morata, £50m for Fernando Torres, £40m for Tiemoue Bakayoko, £35m for Danny Drinking Water, £33m for Michy Batshuayi – so fans can’t say they’ve never seen an expensive signing fail.

JUVENTUS: Signature of former Arsenal players

The relationship between Juve and the Arsenal in the area of transfers is bizarre. After signing Thierry Henry for just £11 million in 1999 (before the Gunners made him one of the best players in the world), the Italians were barely able to move the players in the opposite direction. The legendary Patrick Vieira arrived in 2005, but lasted only one season before moving to Inter Milan, while the scoreboard has gone from bad to worse over the past ten years. Armand Traore (2010), Nicklas Bendtner (on loan, 2012) and Nicolas Anelka (2012) set the tone before a rather strange deal for young English striker Stefi Mavidi (2018) enabled him to make only one performance in two years. Only goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (2017) and Aaron Ramsey (2019) can look forward to success in Turin, as they have already played for Arsenal.

Hold on a second: Juve has a reputation for getting a top class player on a free transfer, but Barcelona’s Dani Alves hasn’t done so. The Brazilian defender spent a season at the club, but failed to impress before breaking his leg. In 2017, he posted a photo on Instagram of the boots he wore in the final of the Champions League 2015 (when Barcelona defeated the Bianconeri 3-1), which provoked an angry reaction from Juve fans. Shortly after he joined the PSG for nothing.

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Shaka Hislop wonders why Mohamed Salah wants to leave Liverpool right now.

LIVERPOOL: Replacement of Torres by Carroll

Fernando Torres was a Liverpool legend and his 81 goals in 142 games during his four-year tenure were not easily replaced when he joined Chelsea FC for £50 million in January 2010, but making Newcastle’s Andy Carroll the most expensive British footballer was not the best solution. It was a panic purchase, and while the signing of Ajax Luis Suarez helped narrow the gap somewhat, the Reds went through some tough times – plus Christian Benteke for £40m and Mario Balotelli for £15m – before Carroll left in 2014 and Roberto Firmino finally arrived under Jurgen Klopp.

Hold on a second: The signing of the relatively unknown goalkeeper Loris Karius from Mainz for £4.7 million in 2016 seemed a normal gesture because no one thought he would become number one. He did, and that decision eventually cost Liverpool the final of the Champions League 2018 against Real Madrid, as his nervous breakdown paid the price for his career at Anfield.

THE CITY MANCHESTER: Signature of Mangal

When Man City won Eliaquim Mangala from FC Porto for £42 million in 2014, it was like a declaration of intent – the spending club made the Frenchman the most expensive defender in British history. But with 79 appearances in the city in four years, before he moved to Valencia as part of a free transfer in 2019, it was a disaster. I found a very tough competition, he later said in a sporty way. It was very different from what I’d known before. It was very intense.

Hold on a second: The choice for Wilfried Bony instead of Paulo Dybala was also a bad decision. Edin Dzeko’s departure for the Roma in 2015 has left a void in the front line, but instead of signing a new Sergio Agüero from Palermo, the city has chosen to spend £28 million on Swansea’s Bony. The Ivorian international scored six goals in 26 league games before returning to Swansea for half the amount paid by the city. He is now looking for a new club after leaving the Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia. Dybala joined Juve and became a world star.

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Shaka Hislop, of football club ESPN, puts an end to the terrible transfer saga between Manchester United and Paul Pogba.

MANCHESTER UNITED: Allows Pogba to join Juventus and buy it back for £89.3 million.

Sir Alex Ferguson did not make many mistakes in general, let alone in the transfer market, but letting Pogba go to Juventus in 2012 was probably his biggest mistake. The reason? Ferguson said in his 2015 book that there are one or two football agents that I don’t like, and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, is one of them. I didn’t trust him from the first moment I saw him. United received £800,000 in compensation, but was forced to spend £89.3 million on re-hiring the midfielder four years later, in 2016. If the French winner of the World Cup is still one of the best players when he wants to be, United could probably say without the circus that followed him in recent years. He can always go back to Turin, but United doesn’t get half the price they paid.

Hold on a second: Ferguson also made a monumental miscalculation when he signed a £7 million contract with Beebe in 2010 when he had never seen him play. The Portuguese striker appeared only twice before moving to Benfica in 2014, and United’s attempts to find a long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs were thwarted by numerous costly setbacks: Wilfried Zaha (2013), Angel Di Maria (2014), Memphis Depay (2015) and Alexis Sanchez (2017). The exchange agreement that Sanchez brought to United and sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal was probably the worst ever, but both clubs suffered, making it difficult to choose a winner.

PSG: EUR 222 million to be spent on Neymar

At first sight, this purchasing power is quite impressive. He’ll at least make a statement. But 222 million euros is a ridiculous amount to spend on a player, and the club’s decision in 2017 has indeed had a major impact on the European market since then. To begin with, it ruined the concept of low buy-back rates, which means that team players such as Martin Braithwaite from Barcelona are valued at around 300 million euros. As a result, Barca was negligent and paid huge sums of money for Malcolm and Griezmann, who contributed to their problems (see above). And that helped raise prices, so much so that Harry Maguire (87 million euros) was worth more than Virgil van Dijk (84 million euros), while Arsenal’s 80 million euros for Nicolas Pepe was 4 million euros more than Man City had to pay for Kevin de Bruyne. It just doesn’t make sense. The worst part is it didn’t even work that well. Yes, Neymar has won Ligue 1 three times in three years, but he has not played in the Champions League and seems to have spent most of his time returning to Barcelona.

Hold on a second: The transfer activity in 2016 has been quite bad for the MTP. They signed Julian Draxler (36 million euros), Goncalo Guedes (30 million euros), Grzegorz Krychowiak (27.5 million euros), Esei (25 million euros) and Hatem Ben Arfa (on the basis of a free transfer). All these actors have failed. It was also the year they allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to join Man United.

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Shaka Hislop admits that he is surprised by the rumors circulating about Dele Alli at Real Madrid.

REAL MADRID: EUR 100 million spent on Danger

The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus Turin in 2018 could be seen as a mistake given his incredible goal since then. But Ronaldo was 33 and Madrid got 100 million euros for him. They even managed to land Chelsea’s number one, Eden Hazard, for about the same amount – although some reports say they could end up paying 160 million euros for the Belgians. But injuries have hindered the winger and he has only scored three goals in 29 games in 18 months. He has time to change things, but right now it seems like a very costly mistake.

Hold on a second: Here, too, Madrid has taken shape: James Rodriguez (75 million euros), Luka Jovic (60 million euros), Asier Hilarramendi (40 million euros) and to a lesser extent Mariano Diaz (21.5 million euros), Brahim Diaz (17 million euros), Lucas Silva (13 million euros) and Nuri Sahin (10 million euros) – their careers have declined since their arrival in Madrid.

TOTTENHAM: The inability to spend Bale’s money wisely….

Gareth Bale left Spurs for Real Madrid in 2013. Poured £85.3 million into the club’s coffers. But this money was used for Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiricheș, Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen. After selling Bale, Spurs failed to reach the Champions League for another three years and only Eriksen could be considered an unqualified success – although Lamela had her moments and stayed with the club, unlike all the others mentioned above.

Just for a little while: In 2012, Harry Redknapp wanted to sign Carlos Tevez and Gary Cahill in January to compete for the title, but he called on Luis Saha and Ryan Nelsen as free transfers. It was a missed opportunity, and Spurs hasn’t had much luck in the elimination department since then. The arrival of Harry Kane in 2014 – after the loan period at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester – was a direct boost for the attacker. His 204 goals in 310 appearances suggest that the club doesn’t have to look for another main striker for some time. Yet they had difficulty finding reliable reinforcements for the English international. Soldado (27 million pounds), Vincent Janssen (19 million pounds) and Fernando Llorente (14 million pounds) have all had difficulties, so Carlos Vinicius’ loan this summer seemed the best option.

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