Three months into the Premier League season, and it’s safe to say that while some of this summer’s transfer signings have already started showing their worth, there are also already a few contenders for the worst signing of the window.
For all of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte‘s railings at his club’s poor summer business, his signings are definitely safe from criticism. The same can’t be said of the business other clubs conducted, however.
Here’s a look at the five worst Premier League signings of the 2017 summer window.
For the second straight summer, Jose Mourinho‘s first purchase of the transfer window was a young defender. Yet while Eric Bailly quickly became a Manchester United mainstay after last summer, Victor Lindelof has had a decidedly worse start to his Red Devils career.
He’s made only two Premier League appearances so far. One of those was for less than a minute as Mourinho closed out a 0-0 draw away to Liverpool, and in his second, he came on for an injured Phil Jones in the first half against Huddersfield Town and promptly committed an error that led to a goal.
Lindelof hasn’t looked altogether convincing during his Champions League appearances either and noticeably shaky in the Carabao Cup. Clearly, he has some time before he gets used to the English game.
Mourinho made it clear before the season started that the Swede was far from the finished product, and that he needs a lot of developmental work before he can become a United regular. For a 23-year-old who cost £30.75million, however, less than one full game’s worth of league appearances in three months isn’t good enough.
One Premier League goal in 512 minutes. Perhaps age is catching up with Jermain Defoe, perhaps he hasn’t gotten the right service, perhaps manager Eddie Howe is struggling to figure out how the veteran Englishman fits into his team – but that statistic is damning.
Defoe’s signing was heralded as a coup for Bournemouth, after the 35-year-old nearly single-handedly kept an awful Sunderland side up last season. That form earned him an England recall last season after nearly four years in the international wilderness, and he justified that selection by scoring in the national team’s 2-0 win World Cup qualifier win over Lithuania in March.
At the moment, however, it’s looking more and more likely that that goal was the last meaningful action of Defoe’s international career. In a Bournemouth side struggling for goals, his form is part of the problem, and it means a spot at next year’s World Cup – which was unlikely anyway – isn’t going to happen.
The only saving grace about this signing is that it was a free transfer. But saving money won’t matter if Bournemouth get relegated.
West Ham broke their transfer record in order to land Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City for £25million. Since then, the Austrian has had more red cards (1) than total assists and goals (0) for the club.
As much as Slaven Bilic was sacked by the club due to his and his team’s defensive naivety, no player showed less fight for his manager than Arnautovic. The 28-year-old has looked generally disinterested in West Ham colours, rarely showing the quality that made him a threat at Stoke – and it must be said, even at his former club, he only showed flashes of what he’s capable of.
It’s almost as if the Austrian is waiting for something – for one of his outrageous attempts at skill or a shot from outside the box to come off, so he has his “I have arrived” moment. In some contexts, it’s admirable, but so far for Arnautovic, it’s coming off as extreme selfishness. He wasn’t playing for his manager, he isn’t playing for his team; at the moment, he’s only playing for himself – and he isn’t doing a particularly good job at that, either.
New West Ham manager David Moyes has a mixed record when it comes to players with attacking flair. He’ll need to get through to Arnautovic, fast, because otherwise the future for club, manager, and player looks bleak.
There are several caveats to Davy Klaassen’s struggles at Everton. He was one of three players signed for the same position in the summer window, and playing him, Wayne Rooney, and Gylfi Sigurdsson together hasn’t worked.
The Dutchman was the first of the three to be signed, so the decision-making for the other two transfers was definitely suspect. He hasn’t been helped by the lack of quality in front of him either – there’s only so much a good playmaker can achieve without someone to stick the ball in the back of the net.
It’s also fair to wonder whether Klaassen has been any worse than his fellow No. 10s. Rooney has scored four league goals, though, and five across all competitions, and Sigurdsson has popped up with a couple of assists (both in the Europa League) and has had his moments.
Klaassen, on the other hand, has generally looked listless and out of ideas since arriving from Ajax, and there’s only so much of that you can blame on his circumstances.
He’s 24 and in his first season in the Premier League, so he’s got the chance to turn things around. If a manager can figure out how to get the best out of him, it probably won’t be long before he starts showing his quality.
Swansea City had five central midfielders in their squad heading into the summer window – then went and got three more. The loan signing of Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich created a big wave – although, due to injury and the fact that he’s still getting up to speed with the Premier League, he’s yet to justify that hype. Bringing in Roque Mesa, however, is looking more and more perplexing.
It’s not entirely the Spaniard’s fault. He was always going to need time to adapt to British football, as manager Paul Clement has acknowledged, and it’s still not clear what role Swansea see him in – whether he’s an out-and-out central midfielder or a potential Gylfi Sigurdsson replacement, playing further up the pitch.
There is a feeling among Swansea fans that Mesa hasn’t been given enough of a chance. He’s only made six appearances across all competitions, and three of those were in the Carabao Cup. Of his three league appearances, only one came from the start, and that was back in August against United.
But the fact remains, Swansea paid Las Palmas £11million for Mesa in the summer, and haven’t figured out what to do with him since.
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