7 Players Who Were Found Out After Making a Move to the Premier League’s Elite Clubs

How many times have you been watching a game between two lower-Premier League sides, and a player has stood head and shoulders above both his teammates and opponents? 

He beats away every ball, commands his defence with an authority that even Tony Adams would obey, dictates the pace of play in the centre of the pitch or tucks away every chance that falls into his path. 

‘This player is destined for greater things’ you say to yourself as you add him to your Football Manager transfer shortlist, or make a daring bid for your new hero on your FIFA 20 career. 

Memphis Depay

Sadly, your new FM legend gets a move to Manchester United (eurgh), flops, becomes a laughing stock and gets sent back to whichever hellhole he came from, all in the space of 12 months. 

This happens all too regularly, and the old adage that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side is often proved accurate. 

With that in mind, we take a look at the men who have made the giant leap to the Premier League’s very best sides, but fell so, so short. 

Michael Keane 

Michael Keane was sensational at ​Burnley, a superb cog in an old-fashioned but effective machine which churned out ugly victories – but victories all the same. The strapping centre-back earned himself a big-money move to Everton, but since that day, it’s all gone downhill for the defender. 

Michael Keane,Harry Maguire,Declan Rice

The 26-year-old has failed to live up to his £30m price tag, and although he has become part of Gareth Southgate’s senior England set-up, his consistently dire performances have led to fans calling for the Everton man to be dropped from the side. 

​Everton are currently sitting in the relegation zone, and Burnley are seventh, which tells you all you need to know really. 

Alfie Mawson

Alfie Mawson rose to stardom during his time at the heart of Swansea City’s defence, and although the Welsh club dropped out of the top flight during his second season at the club, the England Under-21 international bagged himself a move to newly-promoted Fulham.

Alfie Mawson,Claudio Ranieri

The big-spending Londoners had a torrid time in their Premier League return, and conceded an eye-watering 81 goals over the 38-game campaign. Even with such a leaky backline, Mawson was restricted to only 15 appearances, and the forgotten man is now plying his trade back in the Championship. 

What’s it all about Alfie? 

Christian Benteke

Remember in the animated Disney film ‘Hercules’ when the protagonist himself is all glowing and golden and has the strength of 1000 men? That was Christian Benteke at ​Aston Villa, as the big Belgian possessed an incredible record of a goal almost every other game in a side starved of creativity or genuine quality. 

Now picture the moment when Hercules was sapped of all his powers, the super-human glow drained from his body, and a mere mortal remained, frozen by fear and confusion, unable to even imagine his previous capabilities. 

Christian Benteke

Well, that was Benteke following his move to Liverpool, and although Hercules regained his powers, the now ​Crystal Palace striker seems bereft of any hope when it comes to returning to his former self. 

Salif Diao

This one is a personal favourite. There’s nothing better than an unknown player shining on the big stage, earning a ridiculous move to a top tier side, only for them to realise he’s actually pretty rubbish. 

Welcome, Salif Diao! Diao shone as one of the stars of World Cup 2002, as Senegal beat holders France in the group stages and reached the quarter finals of the prestigious tournament. The bullish defensive midfielder caught the eye of Europe’s elite, and ​Liverpool won the race for the future world-beater’s signature. 

Salif Diao

As it turned out, Diao was not quite up to standard. The former Sedan man endured a difficult five-year spell at Anfield, only featuring 37 times for the Reds. The World Cup hero found a much more suited home in Tony Pulis’ ​Stoke City side, and pulled on the red and white stripes 72 times during his time in Staffordshire. 

Danny Drinkwater

If you asked ​N’Golo Kante what his greatest achievement in football is to date, he would probably say winning the Premier League with ​Leicester and then Chelsea, or possibly winning the World Cup with France in 2018. 

But he’d be wrong. His biggest accomplishment was allowing ​Danny Drinkwater to resemble a £35m player. Drinkwater was fantastic with Leicester, and was a key figure in their unbelievable title-winning side, but the Englishman jumped at the opportunity of moving to Chelsea in 2017. 

Safe to say, even when reunited with Kante, the former Manchester United man failed to perform at one of the most demanding clubs in England and made only 12 appearances for the Blues. The Premier League winner was last seen outside a nightclub, beaten up and bloodied for chatting up a fellow footballer’s partner. 

Can’t take that medal off you though, eh Danny? 


Now, Shakhtar Donetsk is a big club in its own right, and playing – and flourishing – in the Champions League is no mean feat. But the rigorous demands of the Premier League is a completely different kettle of fish. 

Man Utd beat rivals ​Manchester City to the signature of ​Fred, who joined from Shakhtar in the summer of 2018 for a whopping £50m, in the hope of boosting their weak midfield options. The Brazilian arrived with great curiosity surrounding him, and an expectation that he could completely reinvigorate a lifeless team. 


Fred has well and truly failed however, and although his inability to adapt to life in Manchester is not unique over recent years, his miserable time in England is a warning to all clubs willing to spend big on untested entities. 

Andy Carroll 

£35m. Thirty-five MILLION pounds. What on earth were Liverpool thinking? Brought in as a replacement for the departing Fernando Torres in 2011, the Reds blew a hefty chunk of their income on ​Newcastle striker Andy Carroll. 

It didn’t go to plan for the big man.

Andy Carroll

Liverpool chiefs must have suffered a severe blow to the head prior to sanctioning Carroll’s move to Anfield, and six goals in 44 games saw the former Newcastle talisman shipped off to the graveyard of finished strikers – AKA ​West Ham United. 

Back on Tyneside, let’s hope Carroll recaptures his unplayable form which propelled him into the England side not so long ago. 


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