Chris Wilder’s sacking serves as a warning of what can happen when tens of millions of pounds are spent and nothing received in return.
Wilder’s relationship with the Sheffield United board deteriorated rapidly as club-record signing Rhian Brewster failed to hit the ground running at Bramall Lane.
Tensions came to a head as Wilder refused to appoint a technical director to take over transfer dealings, setting the Englishman on course for sacking.
Fortunately for top-flight bosses, not every failed transfer leads to a managerial dismissal, which is just as well given there are a great number of new signings who have struggled this term.
In no particular order, here is Mirror Football’s definitive list of the 10 worst Premier League signings this season.
At the time of Rhian Brewster’s transfer from Liverpool to Sheffield United in October, debate was raging over who got the better end of the bargain.
One one hand, Sheffield United had just signed a player who had scored 11 goals in 22 games during a promising loan spell with Swansea. Aged just 20, he had his whole career ahead of him and had excellent goalscoring pedigree as the Golden Boot winner during England Under-17’s World Cup triumph in 2017.
On the other hand, Liverpool received £23.5million fee for a player who had made just four appearances for the club.
Five-and-a-half months on, the debate has been well and truly settled.
Brewster has not scored in any of his 22 appearances for Sheffield United, who desperately needed more firepower heading into this season. As mentioned above, his goal drought played a key part in Chris Wilder’s falling out with Bramall Lane chiefs.
With the Blades destined for relegation, Brewster will look to rediscover his form on his return to the Championship, knowing he can justify his price tag if he fires the club to promotion.
When Kostas Tsimikas arrived from Olympiacos, Liverpool hoped they finally had a player to provide back-up for Andy Robertson, who has been run into the ground in recent seasons.
But the Greece international, 24, has made just six appearances for the Reds – three of which were starts – and Robertson has continued to bear the burden of almost all left-back duties.
No Liverpool player has started more games than the Scot this season and Tsimikas – who has suffered thigh and knee injuries – has not been able to lessen his workload.
Liverpool will hope for much more from the £11.75million man next campaign.
Willian ended his Chelsea career on a high with five goals in his last nine league games for the Blues.
Now 29 matches into his Arsenal career, the Brazilian is yet to find the back of the net.
At the time, signing the experienced winger seemed like good business to give Mikel Arteta another option in wide areas and bolster an attack lacking creativity.
But Willian’s goal-shy form means the decision to hand him a three-year deal worth a reported £35million has backfired dramatically.
Admittedly, the 32-year-old is Arsenal’s top assister with seven for the season, but to have no goals after almost 1,600 minutes of action means he is a shoo-in for this list.
As a marauding right wing-back in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, Doherty, 28, was a key member of a formidable defence and regularly amongst the goals and assists.
At Spurs, he has been taken out of his comfort zone with his deployment on the right of a traditional back four.
Doherty has struggled to adapt to his new role and his positioning has been a cause for concern, meaning he has had to settle for sharing minutes with Serge Aurier.
Frankly, Jose Mourinho appears not to trust either of his right-back options.
Nelson Semedo has been just as unconvincing for Wolves as the man he was signed to replace has been for Tottenham.
The Portuguese arrived from Barcelona for an initial £27.5million – almost double what Spurs paid for Matt Doherty – and has failed to fill the gap left by the Republic of Ireland international.
Semedo, 27, has contributed just one assist in 26 appearances despite looking far more comfortable on the front foot than defending.
His arrival has coincided with a drastic decline in Wolves’ solidity at the back and his erratic performances have played a part in an underwhelming season for the Midlands club.
The most expensive signing of last summer, Kai Havertz has endured a hugely frustrating first season with Chelsea.
The Blues paid £72million to beat clubs across Europe to the Bayer Leverkusen star and he arrived in west London to a huge weight of expectation.
On the surface, Havertz’s tally of five goals and five assists is not dire, but the majority of those goals came during a Carabao Cup hat-trick scored against Championship side Barnsley.
The 21-year-old was often allowed a floating role in the attack during his time in the Bundesliga and has struggled in a more rigid system since his move to the Premier League – where the physicality has also been a major issue – with doubts lingering over his best position.
Getting the best out of Havertz was a key reason why Chelsea turned to a German manager in Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard in January.
After recently returning from a knock and impressing in the 2-0 victory over Everton on Monday, Havertz is desparate to silence his critics during the run-in.
Donny van de Beek
The case of Donny van de Beek is arguably the most disappointing of any on this list.
The Dutchman lit up the Eredivisie with Ajax and moved to Old Trafford for a reasonable initial fee of £35million last August.
But there was a glaring problem: Van de Beek plays in precisely the same position as Manchester United’s most important player, Bruno Fernandes.
This has limited the 23-year-old to just two starts in the Premier League and left him scrambling to convince Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he deserves more minutes with hapless cameos off the bench.
Van de Beek’s debut season in the Premier League went from bad to worse as he suffered a knock last month and it remains to be seen if we will see him in any major capacity during the run-in.
Many players on this list were signed for rational fees only to fail to live up to expectations.
Nathan Ake, however, is an example of the opposite.
Ake, 26, has spent the majority of the season sidelined with hamstring injuries but he essentially serves as a fourth or fifth-choice centre-back.
Ruben Dias and John Stones have arguably been the best centre-backs in the Premier League this season, with Aymeric Laporte – another one of the finest defenders in the division – a rotation option.
Perhaps City’s splurge on Ake was to ensure they were not left light at the back if they were hit by injuries, just as Liverpool have been this season.
But with promising youngster Eric Garcia hardly getting a look in, the big-money move for Ake seems like a waste of money, regardless of his injury issues.
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Fabio Silva was handed the unenviable task of filling the vast void left by Raul Jimenez after the Mexican’s sickening head injury in November.
It was undoubtedly a tall order for the 18-year-old, but he has managed a meagre tally of two goals in 26 games and struggled to live up to his club-record £35million price tag.
Silva has lost his place in the starting XI in 2021 and each of his last eight Premier League appearances have come off the bench.
The former Porto wonderkid has plenty of years ahead of him to make his mark at Molineux and Nuno Espirito Santo will hope the youngster’s confidence has not received too much of a blow during a difficult first season with the club.
Another striker to lose their place since the turn of the year is West Brom frontman Karlan Grant.
But things have gone downhill since then and he has not found the back of the net in his 15 subsequent games.
Grant has dropped to the bench since Sam Allardyce replaced Slaven Bilic in the Hawthorns hot seat and it seems likely he will have to settle for a minor role as West Brom look to pull off an unlikely escape from the drop zone, with on-loan Galatasaray ace Mbaye Diagne the preferred striker at present.
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