I think we all know who the flops of the season are when it comes to the Premiership, but how about the rest of Europe, have sides in the Bundesliga, Serie A, Lique 1 and La Liga had to cope with money being ill-spent on a scale such has what has happened with people like Aquilani (Benitez’s fault) and Zhirhkov (Cole’s just better and they didn’t especially need him) in the Premiership this season. Let’s take a look.
Felipe Melo – Has been a huge disappointment for Juventus this season. Was signed off the back of a successful season for Fiorentina last term for around £20m, with Arsenal thought to have been interested in securing his services, they’d be thankful they didn’t bother after a lacklustre first term for the Old Lady. Awarded the dubious honour of the ‘Golden Bin’ award, the award for the worst player in Serie A this season, he’s failed in his duties of patrolling the Juve back four and has been unable to form a successful partnership at the heart of midfield with former Liverpool hatchet man Momo Sissoko.
Mauro Zarate – Known as a bit of a head case, he should have suited Lazio down to the ground, a truly barmy club. But since making his loan spell from Qatari side Al-Sadd permanent, he’s had a season to forget at the Stadio Olimpico scoring just 3 goals in 22 starts. He’s a firm fan favourite, but the £20m spent seems a waste of money for a club enduring an indifferent season in mid-table in Serie A.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk – A destructive holding man at his best during his time at Zenit St Petersburg, he was an instrumental cog in their machine, now at Bayern, after his £9m move last year, he’s struggled to fit into new manager Louis Van Gaal’s plans and often finds himself on the periphery behind Mark Van Bommel, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Hamit Altintop in the race to make the starting eleven and secure a central midfield slot.
Diego – One of the reasons for Juventus’ terrible domestic and indeed European form this year is their hideously unbalanced squad, Diego has typified this best. Brought in from German side Werder Bremen where he proved a great success for upwards of £20m depending on various bonuses and appearances, he’s failed to sparkle, and instead of being the focal point of their play and the link between their attack and midfield, he’s more often than not gone missing in big games and although a tremendous talent he’s been found wanting this season.
Karim Benzema – Strong, good in the air and with a fair amount of pace, Benzema seemed to have the world at his feet, but upon choosing Real Madrid over Man Utd in the summer his career seems to have taken a bit of a downturn this season. The £35m shelled out by Real manager Manuel Pellegrino looks to have been poorly spent, for the marquee signing has flattered to deceive and failed to adapt to the technical nature of La Liga. It hasn’t helped that he’s been overshadowed by the great scoring form of Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, a player already on Real’s books, and he has been linked with a short-term move away from the Bernabeu next season, perhaps even back to old club Lyon.
Samuel Eto’o – Perhaps a surprise choice, but by his standards it’s been a terribly poor year. Without a goal until his clipped effort against Chelsea in the Champions League last month since just before Christmas, Eto’o has been put into the shade by striker partner Diego Millito. Only 10 league goals have come so far this term, and whilst adapting to a new style of play will take time and is understandable, he seems to have lost his spark at Inter. He did cost a fraction of what Barcelona paid for Ibrahimovich in one of the more crazy deals of the summer, but when it comes to expectations, the Cameroonian has so far failed to live up to anywhere near what was expected of him since joining Jose’s rabble.
Fabio Grosso – Noticing a common theme here, another Juventus transfer flop from the summer. Never one to be blessed with pace, it’s the 32 year old left back’s positional sense that has attracted widespread criticism this term. Dreadful form for his club has seen him terrorised by countless wingers and he seems to be saving his best for Italy come the World Cup, for it certainly hasn’t been for Juve since his £2m transfer from French club Lyon.
Klass Jan Huntelaar – I do have a fair amount of sympathy for the Dutchman, he’s been shoved from pillar to post the last year or so and has failed to settle in anywhere since his days at Ajax where he was the main man. It took an injury to first-choice centre forward Marco Borriello for the £15m man to get his chance and any viewers of the Champions League games against Man Utd will have wondered what all the fuss was about. Time is still on his side though, and at just 26 years old and with 7 goals in 18 starts his record isn’t too bad, but it just masks just how dreadful his form has been at times this season and when everyone is fit, he’s little more than a bench warmer for Leonardo’s side.
Kaka – Another controversial one granted, but the Brazilian has failed to sparkle since his much vaunted move from Milan in the summer for around £60m. Much of this blame can be laid at the door of Ronaldo, with the feeling being that Kaka has been willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the team by dropping deeper thus negating his effectiveness whereas Ronaldo has not, as he swans around, with aplomb it has to be said at times, further up the pitch and simply takes the credit for scoring goals and driving the team forward. A slump like this was always inevitable considering the high standards Kaka has set throughout his glittering career to date, but the saying that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ certainly seems to carry some credence when talking about Real Madrid’s team shape and the roles each Galactico carries out, with this confusion to the detriment of Kaka’s form.
Dmytro Chygrynski – Signed from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk for around £20m in the summer, it is obvious his purchase has been made with one eye on the future. But for the amount the Catalan side forked out for the budding young centre back you’d be expecting more than a pitiful 10 league appearances for your money. With Gabriel Millito returning to full fitness and showing something like the bruising form that persuaded Barcelona to sign the Argie centre half in the first place after his long injury lay-off, and Marquez, Pique and Puyol all ahead of him in the queue, coupled with Martin Caceres and Henrique also big money arrivals in the position, Chygrynski faces some seriously stiff competition to improve upon his outing total this season next term and at present looks a serious mis-use of funds.
Written by James McManus