The Premier League attracts some of the best football knowledge the world has to offer, but it can also be a very cruel mistress.
England’s premier flight attracts world – class stars grinding to a flame, and while some thrive in the spotlight, others are burned.
Raphael Varane is just the latest elite player to come and test his abilities in what is often considered Europe’s best league, after securing a transfer to Manchester United from Real Madrid.
And although the World Cup-winning Frenchman has all the qualities and experience to raise the Red Devils to title challengers this year (no matter what Danny Mills says), we thought in 90 minutes that it could be fun to look back at some big name imports like just did not work.
Davor Suker in action for Arsenal / Phil Cole / Getty Images
Davor Suker arrived in England after establishing himself as a major footballer in the 1990s.
A La Liga and Champions League winner with Real Madrid, a World Cup winner in the Golden Boot in 1998 and a second place in the Ballon d’Or the same year, Suker went to Arsenal in 1999 with a little pedigree – even though his best days were already behind him .
Croatia managed just eight Premier League goals for the Gunners in their only season before Harry Redknapp took him to West Ham, where he scored two.
George Weah for Manchester City / Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
From Ballon d’Or second place to Ballon d’Or winner.
George Weah is a legendary figure for his spells in Paris Saint-Germain and Milan. Although he was never the most productive of strikers, his electric and immobile screens for PSG earned him the lucrative Ballon d’Or award in 1995, before excelling even further in Serie A with I Rossoneri.
Four full seasons and two scudetti later, Weah moved to Chelsea in January 2000 for a loan that yielded just five goals.
That summer, Milan let him go to Manchester City on a permanent transfer, where he continued to score once in the league.
10 years ago today, Deco pulled this out of his bag on his Chelsea debut! ? pic.twitter.com/wMtmhGQo3x
– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 17, 2018
A joy to see at its best, Deco was one of the talented midfielders who made the creative side of the game look as easy as anything.
So when Chelsea signed him from Barcelona ahead of the 2008/09 campaign, the blues believers were all smiles. He went on to get an assist and make the above 30-yard scorer on his debut in Chelsea’s first Premier League match against Portsmouth.
Unfortunately, there is only one way to go from the top, and Deco discovered it soon enough. The Portuguese maestro finished that season after doing three times and assisting only twice.
The following year, Deco became only a few parties when Carlo Ancelotti’s side pushed for the title. He was transferred to Fluminense after failing to live up to expectations.
Gonzalo Higuain was not the best for Chelsea / James Williamson – AMA / Getty Images
For a player who managed 76 Serie A goals from 2015 to 2018, Gonzalo Higuain’s loan move to Chelsea in January 2019 should have yielded a few goals – even if it was only half a season.
As it turned out, the Argentine did not score a disastrous five goals in 19 games, but never really looked in the form of Chelsea, with opposition fans liking his weight.
Frustration for Maicon / Michael Regan / Getty Images
Probably the best right-back in world football in 2010, Maicon was pretty much uncontrollable up on the right flank of Inter and Brazil for decades – marble doesn’t even cover that.
The Brazilian will probably be best remembered for the goal he scored against North Korea at the 2010 World Cup – not for his incantation in Manchester City.
There was understandable hype around the arrival of 2012 to such an exciting powerhouse during an exciting time of City’s development into a superpower in English football.
However, Maicon’s incantation at the Etihad proved disastrous, he collected just nine Premier League games without a goal or assist and eventually moved on to Roma after just one season.
A disappointment for Liverpool / Alex Livesey / Getty Images
A striker who consistently hit double figures in La Liga, Fernando Morientes switched to Liverpool for 2004/05 after winning two league titles and three Champions League crowns at Real Madrid.
At the age of 28, there were expectations of a player who would be in his prime.
But eight Premier League strikes over two seasons would have suggested otherwise. The Reds eventually let the Spaniard leave for Valencia, where in his first season he scored double figures for league goals.
Juan Sebastian Veron did not live up to expectations at Manchester United / Jeff Gross / Getty Images
A UEFA Cup winner, Serie A champion and two-time Coppa Italia winner before joining England in 2001, Juan Sebastian Veron was a well-known complete midfielder.
A creative and powerful conductor, the Argentine cost Sir Alex Ferguson as much as 28 million pounds from Lazio – an English record at the time. The early signs indicate that Veron would regain the throne and earned the Premier League player of the month for September in his maiden campaign.
His clear talent, however, only became visible in small glimpses during his time at Old Trafford and left everyone involved frustrated. After never really fulfilling his potential, the midfielder was transferred to Chelsea in the summer of 2003.
After surviving only one unfortunate campaign at Stamford Bridge, Veron was sent back to Italy to play for Inter.
Angel Di Maria in Despair / OLI SCARFF / Getty Images
One of the first names that will come to mind when thinking of “flop” Angel Di Maria enduring a pissed off season at Manchester United after arriving from Real Madrid ahead of the 2014/15 promotion.
Okay, so he actually managed 11 assists in the league that really is not to sniff at. But so much was expected from United’s new number seven, and conceding just three Premier League goals was simply not good enough after his then British record of £ 59.7 million transfer from Real Madrid.
After the campaign ended, the Daily Telegraph voted for Di Maria as the worst signing of the season – no small assessment given Mario Balotelli and Jack Rodwell both endured the horrors of the same year.
A frustrating and hugely disappointing time at Old Trafford ended with a move to PSG that summer.
Radamel Falcao endures an unpleasant time in England / Jordan Mansfield / Getty Images
One of the most feared and productive forwards in Europe, Radamel Flacao was at the top of his game at Atletico Madrid and Monaco in the early 2010s.
The Colombian then decided to test himself in England and secured a loan deal to Manchester United for the 2014/15 season.
Falcao made a very famous signing and scored only four goals in 26 Premier League matches before returning to Monaco.
Instead of giving up on his English adventure, however, Falcao returned to the Premier League on loan with Chelsea the year before, where he managed an even worse season and did once in all competitions.
El Tigre has since rediscovered its slippers on Galatasaray.
Andriy Shevchenko was a disappointment at Chelsea / Etsuo Hara / Getty Images
Probably the name that encapsulates a flop, Andriy Shevchenko was a Ballon d’Or receiver just two years before moving to Chelsea in the summer of 2006. And given that Roman Abramovich had been chasing the striker for a number of years, the deal created a whole frenzy of excitement .
Well, the legendary striker would continue to score nine times in 47 Premier League appearances, leaving every Chelsea fan empty and every rival fan with split sides.
Ukraine’s top scorer of all time and Milan’s second most productive player ended his time at Stamford Bridge after a tough year and a half and was loaned back to I Rossoneri in the second half of 2008/09 before moving Dynamo Kiev permanently that summer.