In European football, we’ve seen cases where players were given out for free or on loan because they were considered not good enough, or finished and yet performed top notch despite low expectations.
On the other hand, we’ve seen players that are being sold for outrageous fees and still end up delivering “too low” below expectations.
Here are some of the players that performed below expectations at their new club.
Neymar Jr (FC Barcelona to PSG)
Neymar left FC Barcelona in August 2017 for a record transfer fee of over 220 million euros, which remains the most expensive signing in the history of football as at the time of writing. It came as a shock to most football fans then because of his relationship with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Despite his beautiful career at Barca, the Brazilian star didn’t feel satisfied and he was rumored to be desperate for a Ballon d’Or, which he felt he couldn’t win playing alongside Lionel Messi.
Neymar led the trio in the 2015/16 Champions League campaign. which saw him score 10 goals in the UCL and also win the trophy. He ended up in the top 3 of the Ballon d’Or rankings, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
PSG, who are desperately in need of a Champions League trophy, coupled with Neymar’s desire to be a leader of a team and a Ballon d’Or winner, helped make the transfer look easier.
Since his departure to PSG, he had only come close to winning the Champions League once, and had never been in the Ballon d’or top 3.
His time at PSG has also seen a lot of injuries, which might have caused a pause in his beautiful career.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus)
Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018 after winning three consecutive Champions League trophies with the Spanish club, five Ballon d’Or trophies and four golden boots. The deal is said to be worth about 100 million euros.
Juventus wanted to build a team that would win the Champions League and, based on Cristiano Ronaldo’s UCL performances, he was probably their best bet. I mean, who will bank on a player who is about 35 years old at the time?
It sounded like a good deal at the time, and the hopes of Juventus winning the Champions League came alive. Despite his beautiful run in the Italian league (Serie A), throughout his 3 seasons at Juventus, they couldn’t reach the semis in the Champions League.
And the shocking defeat against 10-man Porto in the RO16 crowned it all and killed Juventus hope of winning another Champions League trophy since 1996.
Since he departure to Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t won any European major individual award. He left Juventus for Manchester United where he first started his rise to stardom at the beginning of his career. Read more here
Eden Hazard(Chelsea to Real Madrid)
Eden Hazard signed for Real Madrid in 2019 in a deal worth 103 million euros.
He use to be one of the most thrilling attackers to watch back then in Chelsea. He’d definitely go down as one of Chelsea’s greatest players. Expectations was so high of him on his arrival at Real Madrid. But to our surprise, multiple injuries has ruined his career run in the Spanish club.
In his first season, he made just eight appearances for the club, and even worse, in the next where he started just seven matches. After two full seasons with Real Madrid, he has scored just 5 goals in all competitions which is so unusual of him.
In his third season, after 16 appearances, the Belgium forward has 0 goals and 2 assists for the club. Could this be the end of Eden Hazard’s glorious run? Read more here
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool FC to FC Barcelona)
While it might have worked well with Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano, in Coutinho’s case it was a lot different.
FC Barcelona bought Philippe Coutinho to replace Andres Iniesta in 2018 in a deal worth £143 million, which was the second most expensive signing at the time, making Coutinho the most expensive midfielder.
Coutinho is well known for his beautiful curly shots from outside the box and he played a major role at Liverpool, which also earned him a spot in the PFA team of the year 2015.
Coutinho had an interesting run in his first season at FC Barcelona, playing alongside Messi and Suarez, but he seemed to lose his touch in the second season and since then has stopped being a regular starter.
In his 2019/20 season, he was loaned to Bayern Munich, where he probably had his best game against his former club FC Barcelona in the UCL. He came in as a substitute, scored two goals and gave one assist in an 8-2 win. He also went on to win a treble with the German club.
In January 2022, FC Barcelona announced the loan of the player to Aston Villa till the end of the season.
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona to PSG)
This might be the most ridiculous of them all. It’s Lionel Messi. What would you have expected? After spending most of his entire career in a single club, circumstances have pushed him to an entirely new league, and he has to prove his critics who claim he can’t do better in another league wrong.
Lionel Messi left FC Barcelona in 2021 due to a financial crisis, and he joined his friend Neymar at PSG. This will definitely be the most incredible transfer of all time because it looked impossible at the time.
Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers of his time, winning 7 record-breaking Ballon d’ors and 5 European golden boots.
Since joining the Ligue 1, which is regarded as the least competitive of all the top European leagues, Lionel Messi has scored just one goal in 12 Ligue 1 matches and given five assists, which is so unlike him.
Although his champions league run is good with 5 goals in 5 matches. But he’s Lionel Messi, and a lot more is expected of him. While some still believe he’ll pick up form, others feel this is the beginning of his downfall as he has failed to prove his critics wrong so far.
Other Players Who Shouldn’t have changed clubs.
- Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United)
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to Manchester United)
- Antonio Greizman (Atletico Madrid to FC Barcelona)
- Donny Van De Beek (Ajax to Manchester United)
- Timo Werner (RB Leipzig to Chelsea)
- Romero Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea)
What are your thoughts on these players? And which player(s) should/shouldn’t be on the list? Let us know in the comment box below.
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