If there’s one thing that Premier League clubs have never been short of it’s money…or sense. Just look at these damp striking squibs
Sir Alex Ferguson signed some truly world class players in his long tenure as Manchester United manager. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy, the list goes on. There have been some stinkers as well, however, and the one that probably tops that list is Portuguese striker Bebé.
Out of the blue, in August 2010, before Bebé had played any competitive game for his employers Vitória de Guimarães, United paid up to €9M to sign the youngster. Ferguson and his staff must have seen something in the boy, but what exactly it was we will never know. Because by making only seven appearances and being loaned out three times in his four years at the club, it’s fair to say Bebé was a disaster in the Premier League.
And what exactly Ferguson and his staff saw in Bebé wasn’t discovered elsewhere either as he’s currently being a benchwarmer at Spanish side Eibar, scoring a grand total of six league goals in last three seasons at three different clubs.
In 2008, Sheikh Mansour acquired Manchester City, and since then City has become a financial powerhouse. One of the first signings in this new period was Jô. The Brazilian was signed from CSKA Moscow for a club record fee of €24M. Then manager Mark Hughes described the Brazilian as “a massive coup for the club”.
Well, those words don’t really give a fair assessment of Jô’s time at City. The forward played just 15 games for the club, scoring three goals before being shipped out to Everton on loan. After a couple of years away, Jô returned to City in 2010 only to be sold 12-months later to Brazilian club Internacional.
Since then, the 20-times Brazilian international has not returned to European fields but has enjoyed lucrative spells in Dubai and China. He’s currently playing for Corinthians – the club where he made his debut in football and played since he was seven. At 30, a move back to Europe, and perhaps the Premier League, shouldn’t completely be ruled out. It would certainly make a few headlines.
Having signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2013, Iago Aspas was a member of the 2013/14 team that nearly won the league. Aspas himself was just there to make up the numbers, though, as he only made five starts in the Premier League, failing to impress and seemingly unable to cope with the physicality of England’s first tier.
The following season, Aspas joined Sevilla on-loan before returning to boyhood club Celta de Vigo. Back home, the Spaniard began to really show why Liverpool bought him in the first place. A good homecoming season has now been followed up by an excellent campaign, wherein Aspas is leaving only Ronaldo, Messi and Suárez ahead of him in the goal-scoring charts of La Liga.
In Europe, Celta have reached the Europa League semi-finals where they will meet Manchester United. A great occasion for Aspas to really show England what he’s capable of.
When Tottenham Hotspur secured the services of Roberto Soldado, the mainstream reaction was positive as Soldado was a proven predator for Valencia and was already capped for one of the most successful international sides of all time; Spain.
At Tottenham, however, things never really worked out. It might have been the price tag of €30M that inflicted too many pressure or the different type of game compared to in Spain that he came across in England. One thing is for sure, his goal scoring talents never came to the surface.
After two years at the club, which saw Soldado score just seven Premier League goals, the No9 returned to Spanish football and signed for Villarreal in the summer of 2015. Back in his own country, the effects of his disappointing spell for the Spurs were noticeable as he managed to grab only eight goals in his first year back.
Being the top scorer of the U17 World Cup in 2005, Carlos Vela was touted as the next big thing and Arsenal quickly purchased the Mexican wonder kid. Vela could never quite work his way into the Arsenal team, though, and after four years at the club, including one year on loan at West Bromwich Albion, the skilled dribbler left Arsenal to play for Real Sociedad.
In La Liga, Vela started to deliver on his promise and showed Arsene Wenger that selling him was the wrong decision. Vela has scored 70 league goals since he arrived at la Real in 2011 and has already had many offers from bigger clubs. A move back to the Premier League is far from unrealistic. A player like Vela would bring something extra to any side.