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HomeSportsRanking the Most Disappointing Transfers of the 2023-24 Premier League Season,...

Ranking the Most Disappointing Transfers of the 2023-24 Premier League Season, Including Mason Mount and Moises Caicedo

This season, the English Premier League has seen many transfer blunders, but which is the worst of them all?

During the course of the two 2022–2023 transfer windows, Premier League clubs spent slightly under £5 billion ($6 billion) on new players, setting new records for spending. This excessive culture persisted until last summer. When the summer market closed on September 1, Deloitte reported a final outlay of £2.36 billion ($3 billion), smashing the previous record mark by £440 million ($550 million). This raised concerns about an unsustainable future for the English premier league.

In January, the Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) gained prominence after Everton and Nottingham Forest violated the rules, resulting in point deductions. In response, other top-tier English clubs tightened their spending, leading to a surge in loan deals and free transfers. Despite this, an additional £96 million ($120 million) was spent during the winter transfer window, pushing the total expenditure for the season beyond £3 billion once again. As the season comes to a close, several teams may be regretting their recruitment decisions.

While some players have hardly been worth the time and effort to pursue in the first place and might not have another chance to establish themselves at the Premier League level, others haven’t even gone close to justifying their enormous salaries.

Below are some listed the most underwhelming additions of the 2023–24 campaign, beginning with a Dutchman who has had difficulty establishing himself on Merseyside.

Ryan Gravenberch

Image Credit: Goal

After losing out to Real Madrid in the pursuit of Jude Bellingham, Liverpool shifted their focus to Ryan Gravenberch, who was seeking a fresh start after a disappointing first season with Bayern Munich. The Reds invested £34m ($42m) in the Dutch international, despite his struggles at the Allianz Arena, and signed him to a five-year deal. Manager Jurgen Klopp praised Gravenberch as an “exceptional talent” with a bright future. While Gravenberch has shown flashes of brilliance at Anfield, he has only started 12 Premier League games, falling behind other midfielders in the pecking order. Reports suggest Liverpool might consider selling Gravenberch, who has attracted interest from Turkey, but this would be premature, given his age (22) and potential to thrive under new manager Arne Slot. However, Gravenberch must consistently deliver to revitalize his Anfield career, as he has so far proven to be a disappointing alternative to Bellingham.

Christopher Nkunku

image Credit: Goal

Evaluating Christopher Nkunku’s first year at Chelsea is challenging due to his numerous injuries, which have caused him to miss 39 games. However, warning signs about his fitness were evident during his time at RB Leipzig, and Chelsea overlooked them when signing him to a six-year contract for £52m ($65m). In the 13 games Nkunku has played for Chelsea, he has shown promise, but his limited impact – just three goals and no assists – highlights his struggles to reach peak physical condition. Nkunku was a dynamic and feared forward at Leipzig, capable of playing various roles, including winger, No.9, and No.10. He showed potential in pre-season, forming a strong partnership with Nicolas Jackson, but Chelsea needs reliable attackers who can consistently deliver. It’s crucial that Nkunku prioritizes a full recovery from his latest setback, rather than rushing back, to avoid compromising his potential as a talismanic presence for the Blues, as he was at Leipzig.

Andrey Santos – Nottingham Forest (loan)

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Last summer, Andrey Santos’ arrival at Chelsea from Vasco da Gama generated significant excitement in west London. The teenager had played a crucial role in helping Vasco da Gama secure promotion to Serie A, and initial expectations were high, with some even likening him to compatriot Casemiro due to his dynamic, goal-scoring midfield style. However, following the signings of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, Chelsea opted to loan Santos to Nottingham Forest for the season, deeming it beneficial for his development. Unfortunately, this move proved disastrous, as Santos made only two appearances before being recalled in January, failing to impress either Steve Cooper or Nuno Espirito Santo during his time at Nottingham Forest. Although he has shown improvement during a subsequent loan spell at Strasbourg, it remains uncertain whether he possesses the necessary quality to succeed in the Premier League.

Andre Onana – Manchester United (£48m)

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Manchester United urgently needed to replace David de Gea, who had been in decline for four years before his contract expired last June. Andre Onana, who had helped Inter reach the 2023 Champions League final, seemed like the perfect solution. United’s manager, Erik ten Hag, had previously worked with Onana at Ajax, and the signing was praised as a shrewd move to bridge the gap with Manchester City and Arsenal, following a promising third-place finish in the Premier League. However, Onana’s first season at Old Trafford has been underwhelming. In fact, many fans would welcome De Gea back with open arms after witnessing Onana’s struggles with crosses, simple shots, and positioning. Despite making more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season, Onana’s performances have been marred by basic handling and positioning errors. His kicking has also been erratic, making him a liability for United. While statistics may suggest otherwise, Onana has fallen short of the required standards, making him a box-office watch for all the wrong reasons.

Ansu Fati – Brighton (loan)

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It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since Ansu Fati was touted as Lionel Messi’s successor at Barcelona. The Spanish prodigy made a dazzling debut at Camp Nou in 2019, showcasing his exceptional dribbling skills at just 16 years old. However, a string of injuries soon derailed his progress, costing him a regular spot in the team. The emergence of Lamine Yamal further pushed Ansu into the shadows, and Brighton seized the opportunity to sign him on a blockbuster loan deal last summer. Ansu initially impressed, scoring twice in his first five Premier League games for the Seagulls, but his body struggled to cope with the physical demands of the English game. A calf injury kept him sidelined during the festive period, and since his return in February, he has failed to regain a spot in De Zerbi’s lineup, with the Brighton boss expressing concerns about his ongoing fitness issues. Ansu’s brief stint at the Amex has only fueled doubts about his ability to become an elite player, and it’s difficult to envision how he will fit in at Barca when he returns to Xavi’s squad.

Moises Caicedo – Chelsea (£115m)

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Chelsea shattered the British transfer record by signing Moises Caicedo from Brighton for a staggering £115 million ($147m), outbidding Liverpool in the process. During his two-year tenure at the Amex Stadium, the Ecuadorian was instrumental in Brighton’s success, but such a hefty sum is typically reserved for players who can significantly impact the game. Chelsea expected Caicedo to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact, but he struggled under the weight of expectation. While he excelled in tackles and interceptions at Brighton, he failed to replicate this form at Chelsea, appearing less composed and effective in breaking up play. To his credit, Caicedo finished the season strongly, and it’s important to remember he’s still just 22 years old. Additionally, he showed professionalism during a challenging time when his family’s safety was at risk due to violence in his home country. Nevertheless, the hefty price tag looms large, and as it stands, Caicedo’s signing must be considered a significant disappointment.

Mason Mount – Manchester United (£55m)

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Manchester United did not need Mason Mount, a fact evident to most observers when he made his controversial £55m ($69m) move from Chelsea last June. Mount’s most impressive performances came when he played as a No.10 for Chelsea, leading their press and enjoying creative freedom. However, Bruno Fernandes already fills a similar role at Old Trafford, making it challenging for Erik ten Hag to incorporate both players into his system. Moreover, Ten Hag signed Mount following his worst season at Chelsea, and the midfielder has appeared equally lacking in confidence at United. Hampered by recurring fitness issues, Mount has made only 14 Premier League appearances, contributing minimally in those games. With Mount in this form, United will not reclaim their top spot; the 25-year-old seems to have lost his focus and passion for the game, creating another problem for a club already grappling with numerous issues.

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