Before we start, I know what you’re thinking – That makes no sense! Well yes. But let me explain. Some transfers are appalling. So appalling that they have no value whatsoever save the comical. Ali Dia’s brief hoodwinking of Graeme Souness for example or Robbie Keane’s tragic-comic attempts to play for Liverpool. However some players are lambasted as a flop regardless of their sometimes genuine, all be it fleeting, moments of worth. This is a list of players considered to be flops outright, but whom actually had a very real value to their team at some point afterall. However small. Price wasn’t considered. Much. So let us begin.
Juan Sebastien Veron – Lazio to Manchester United, 2001 – Despite looking like Ming the Merciless as played by Max Von Sydow, ‘The Little Witch’ proved to be anything but in the green green grass of the English top flight, cowering to any unsophisticated lower to mid table center half willing to put him under any more pressure than a shouty tramp in a park. Blessed with undoubted skill, Veron finally proved once and for all the old adage about English footballs fast and physical approach being difficult to adapt to for those suited to its continental counterparts. Denied of the time and space to pick a pass, Veron floundered when faced with such mighty footballing titans as Bolton and Derby. However in Europe Veron almost always excelled and against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea during Manchester United’s title winning season of 2002/03, he chipped in with vital moments of inspiration. A goal against the Gunners and a beautiful last minute assist against Chelsea went someway to repaying his hefty price tag. Someway. OK, some very small way.
Michael Owen – Real Madrid to Newcastle United, 2005. – Oh Michael. Oh Michael, Michael, Michael, where did it all go wrong? Well, to be perfectly honest, it didn’t really. Not performance wise at any rate. MO10 was never a player who contributed much outside the box. I’ve spent many a cold night at Wembley angrily berating him for his uselessness to the slightly annoyed man next to me only for him to pop up in the 85th minute and grab a goal. He was shipped back to England after a relatively impressive but unappreciated stint at Real Madrid, and expected to be the latest made to order McMessiah at St. James Park. Despite being constantly injured, his record of 30 goals in 79 games can’t really be considered a flop by any standards. Its fair to say that out of Michael Owen and Newcastle United, the bigger flop was the latter.
Diego Forlan – Independiente to Manchester United, 2002. – Often a joke to even United fans, Diego Forlorn is probably most remembered for failing to get his shirt back on again after celebrating too heartily against Southampton and running around like a streaker until the ball went out of play again. That and being fairly crap at scoring goals. However he gained a cult following at Old Trafford for his workmanlike performances and sporadically crucial goals. He would’ve made quite a good midfielder in England and wasn’t affected by the pace and physicality at all. It was just those pesky goals. However a last minute winner against Chelsea (from the aforementioned Veron pass) and a brace against Liverpool at Anfield in a 2-1 win was always guaranteed to enshrine him in United folklore whatever his ratio. He had lovely hair too.
David Bentley – Blackburn to Tottenham, 2008. – Looking like a 1950’s matinee idol who’s isn’t actually an idol but just stands in the back with the extras with one expression, David Bentley had all the hallmarks of the next David Beckham. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really be arsed and despite getting a move to a debatably bigger club with Spurs after excelling ay Blackburn under Mark Hughes, he turned out to not be as good, or more accurately, as effective, as electric duck on speed, Aaron Lennon. However, time is still on his side and he did score a ridiculous 40 yard goal against Arsenal at the Emirates. With the World Cup on the horizon, things could easily still turnaround for Baby Bentley. He has lovely hair too.
Craig Bellamy – Norwich to….er.. Everywhere, 2000 – 2009. – The thing about feckless, neckless Bellers is, he’s not a particularly nice person. Probably. He’s never been particularly bad or ineffectual anywhere he’s been, from Coventry to Newcastle, Blackburn to Liverpool, West Ham and now Man City. He just doesn’t seem to get on with anyone at any of them. He’s such a misunderstood soul I just want to give him a hug sometimes. Well, I would, If I didn’t really deeply dislike him of course. However no matter how consistently he continues to fail in making friends around the houses, he’s still maintained a goal ratio of under 1 in 3 at all of these clubs. His reputation as a flop comes more from his inability to settle than anything else. He’s been a valuable asset to all of them at one time or another, whether it be scrambling a header in against Barcelona at the Nou Camp for Liverpool, or a well taken brace for City in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford. He continues to be a big game player, some of the time. He’s quite good at golf too I’ve heard.
Written By Oscar Pye-Jeary