• Ranking This Season’s Worst Premier League Signings

    Published Friday 19 May 2023 3:44pm

    9 min read

    View our rankings for the biggest transfer flops of the 2022/23 Premier League season.

By WherestheMatch Team

Ranking This Seasons’ Worst Premier League Signings – 2022/23

While the 2022/23 season blessed us with some impeccable transfer action – the Premier League’s dead-eyed top scorer Erling Haaland by Manchester City, a player combining experience and ability in equal measure in Oleksandr Zinchenko by Arsenal, or even the exciting prospect of Alexander Isak at Newcastle – there have also been times where we’ve been left scratching our heads wondering if the recruitment teams were doing their scouting purely through YouTube compilation clips. In January alone, Premier League teams spent a staggering $831 million, over three times the spend of Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and La Liga combined. With big money come big expectations and what better way to celebrate the end of the season that by ranking the players that spectacularly failed to live up to the hype.

Number 5 – Marc Cucurella

If you had the chance to watch Cucurella play at Brighton last season, you would be forgiven for being incredibly excited about his transfer to Chelsea. His style perfectly encompassed Graham Potter’s hard-working, high-pressing football ideology and the quality he offered from out wide made the side a constant threat going forward. While his time at Brighton offered him plenty of opportunity to make penetrative runs into the final third, his time at Chelsea so far has been in a far more restrictive defensive role. It didn’t take Chelsea fans very long to realise that Cucurella wasn’t all that great defensively.

Having paid £65.3 million in fees to capture his signature, you would expect Cucurella to be a guaranteed starter every week, however, it seems that both Graham Potter – and now Frank Lampard – heavily favour Ben Chilwell over their new marquee defensive signing. Combining the fact that Chelsea have been pretty dire this season, and that he’s still young enough to get plenty of opportunities to provide himself, we can remain relatively optimistic about his future prospects at the club – as long as they, you know, don’t ask him to defend.

Number 4 – Kalidou Koulibaly

Another Chelsea player (and not the last on this list) - it’s almost like throwing your money at anyone rated by football Twitter doesn’t guarantee a healthy team composition. I can’t say the transfer of Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea was a bad idea though, they needed to replace both Rudiger and Christensen and what better way to do so than to sign one of the Serie A’s highest rated defenders? Well, let’s just say that for a team with an assortment of young centre backs most of whom are either permanently injured or pretty meh, combined with their best centre back who’ll be eligible to claim pension benefits soon, somehow Koulibaly has been forgotten about and just tossed to the side.  

With Napoli clinching the Serie A title this season, Koulibaly is probably slightly regretful about leaving the Italian League, a regret I’m sure he will overcome in due course while cashing in his £300,000-a-week cheques. Three years left on his contract and little interest from manager past or present, it’ll be interesting to see whether Koulibaly sticks around to show the quality that made him such a highly-sought after player.

Number 3 – Wout Faes

After selling Fofana to Chelsea, Leicester City had 70 million to spend on revamping their defence. Unfortunately, most of this budget seemed to magically disappear and Brendan Rodgers only had a fraction of the full amount to actually build a team that was now heavily depleted in key positions. Centre back was a major focus for Leicester and they looked to Ligue 1 to reinforce. At £17 million, Wout Faes was a considerable investment for Leicester, and one that they were heavily relying on to prevent the world from having to suffer through another season of Daniel Amartey playing in defence. Safe to say this was a gamble that did not come off with many of Leicester’s shortcomings on the pitch coming due to the fact that they are simply unable to keep the ball out of the net. He’s certainly not helped their cause through a string of high-profile errors leading to – more frequently than not – a win for the opposition. It may be a bit harsh to call Wout Faes one of this season’s worst Premier League signings but with how much was riding on his success, the poor performances he’s displayed in a Leicester shirt are all the more disappointing.  

Number 2 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang is very much the perfect definition of a silly transfer. He is someone who has 1. Played for the team’s largest rivals 2. Is approaching the twilight of his career, and 3. Hasn’t exactly achieved a great deal over the last few seasons. You can’t help but question why the recruitment team thought that he was the missing puzzle piece.

Back in their Borussia Dortmund days, Thomas Tuchel got some great performances out a young Aubameyang and the high-level coaching of the former played a big role in establishing Aubameyang as a top player. Maybe in joining Chelsea Aubameyang was looking to reignite his career under the man who ignited it all those years ago. Unfortunately, Tuchel was fired five days after Aubameyang joined the club. What followed were rumours of the Gabon man refusing to train, him being in conflict with members of the camp, and even openly admitting to wanting out of the London club with a Barcelona return seemingly being his favoured destination. Frank Lampard made it clear that he needed to earn his spot to feature in the starting eleven which prompts the question – how badly must he have been training to not make it into a team without a striker?

Not only has Aubameyang been absolutely dreadful this season, but he also met the appearance requisite to class as a member of the La Liga winning Barcelona side, meaning that he’s one of the very few players at Chelsea to have won a trophy this season.

Number 1 – Richarlison

By far the most frustrating transfer of the 22/23 season has been that of Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur. On the back of a fantastic World Cup with Brazil, Richarlison’s stock was at an all time high with him attracting suitors from across Europe, surely he would be on his way out of Everton who barely maintained their Premier League status last season. To everyone’s surprise, Spurs didn’t fumble the transfer and he signed on with the London club for a fee in the region of £60 million.

With Kane, Son, and Kulusevski, Tottenham were already in possession of a lethal attack and fans were excited to see such an exciting player join the trio; except for the fact that he didn’t. At no point this season has Richarlison played any an active role within Spurs’ attack and you’ve got to wonder how a forward manages such poor stats in a front line that is known to score from absolutely anywhere. What he has managed though, has been offside goals. At this current point, he has scored more offside goals than goals that have stood, and has been booked more times for taking off his shirt upon scoring a disallowed goal than he has total goals in his name this season. At least his offside goals mean that we get a chance to see his iconic pigeon celebration, either that or his horrendous back tattoo featuring himself alongside Neymar and the Brazilian Ronaldo – read into that what you will.

Off the football pitch, Richarlison has been keeping busy clashing with managers. Under Antonio Conte there were heavy rumours indicating that he was one of the players leading a mutiny against the Italian, and his live interview under Christian Stellini’s tenure complaining at being dropped was certainly a factor in turning the temporary manager into a out-of-job manager. There’s every chance that Richarlison may become an asset to Tottenham in the following seasons, but for the time being, he’s done all of his talking off the pitch.