Thu 19 November 2020 | 18:30

Top big money flops in football history

Money flops in football are a disappointment for both fans and clubs. In this article we list the top big money flops in football history and the reasons they deserve the title.

As the most popular sport on the planet, football has caused a lot of money to flow in its direction. One of the largest clubs' investments is transferring high priced players. Some of them make a fortune for the team, but there are some that become nothing like the star they used to be. 

Top big money transfer flops in football history

 are a concerning problem for football fans around the world. Since the price tags keep getting higher and higher, the number of money flops in football are raising with it. There are some obvious and well-known factors that make a player expensive and we're going to explain them briefly.

The contract length of the player with his current club has a huge effect on the price. The closer it gets to end of the contract, the lower the price gets. If the player is under a contract, the football club that wants to see him in the team, has to convince the current club to sell its player. Unless the player has a release clause in his contract, the destination club can pay the price without the current club’s approval. The release clauses are almost always very high.

Players age is another factor that effect the price. it is not common to pay big money for over 30 years old players. 

It also isn't common to pay high prices for players younger than 20 years old, because it takes some time to prove he's going to be the next star.

 Injuries and lack of adaptation to the rest of the team or even the club itself are two common reasons that made big players the

biggest soccer transfer flops of all time.

The most expensive football flops of all time:

Top big money flops in football history

are usually talented players but injuries, lack of adaptation with the new team, or just bad luck brings the worst out of them. here are 10 biggest transfer flops in soccer history:

Thomas Lemar (Monaco - Atletico Madrid)


Thomas Benoît Lemar is a 24 years old French footballer who currently plays midfielder for

Atletico Madrid

. Before that, he was transferred to


for £3.4 million in 2015. Back then, many believed he was one of the best wingers on the market. now he can be considered as one of the top big money flops in football history.

Since swapping Monaco for Atletico Madrid in 2018 for £70 million, Thomas Lemar hasn’t exactly justified the excessive fee. At the time, Atletico Madrid was the complete opposite of an exciting Monaco team. Monaco’s plan for attackers was to give them the license of creative freedom, while Atletico were asking forwards to sit deep, occasionally chase and scrap for every loose ball. Lemar had an expressive role in Monaco, but under Simeone he was going to a more confined and disciplined one.  In 80 appearances, he managed just 3 goals and 7 assists in all competitions for the club.


Antoine Griezmann

no longer in Madrid, it was hoped Lemar could fill the hole he left, but that looks unlikely. Although he’s contracted until 2023, Lemar’s days in Madrid are numbered. If he had chosen elsewhere, perhaps a more attack based setup, we could be mentioning him among the best young talents in the world right now. Instead, he is mentioned as one of the

top big money flops in football history.

Fernando Torres (Liverpool - Chelsea)


had an unsuccessful attempt for Fernando Torres in his astonishing early days in Atletico Madrid. But two years later, in 2007, Torres chose Liverpool to join. Given this was the highest transferring fee in Liverpool's history, it was an easy decision to make. With €38 million, this was a record for both Torres and Liverpool. For 4 seasons in Liverpool, he scored 65 goals in 105 matches. That was good enough for Chelsea to pay a €58.5 million for his transfer. He was the 6th expensive player in the world, yet he scored only one goal in the whole first premier league season in Chelsea.

You might also like: 

Best Chelsea players of all time


His later performance was not any better. In fact, he never made to 10 goals and made to

top big money flops in football history

. He ended up leaving with a £1 million transfer to Ac Milan. The fun fact is that after 10 matches and one goal in Serie A, he returned to his beloved Atletico, but this time in a free transfer.

In his home, he could do some magic tricks again and enjoy the rest of his career.


Eden Hazard (Chelsea - Real Madrid)


has now one of the best squads in the world. Lots of them are key players in big European clubs.

<span style="font-family:cambria,serif">

In his six years of playing for the Chelsea club, Hazard had 352 games and managed 110 goals and 92 assists. He was regarded as one of the best wingers in the world. The Belgian star left Stamford Bridge at the end of the 2018-19 season after a highly successful time at the club and joined

Real Madrid

in a €100 million deal, which may arise to €146.1 million due to additional fees and will be earning an expected £400,000 per week. But since his transfer, he appeared only in 25 games and scored 2 goals and 7 assists.

In his stay in Spain, he gained weight and had lots of minor injuries and stress fractures. Some say he didn’t take the move to Madrid seriously. And now he's probably one of the biggest soccer flops of all time.

Kaka (AC Milan - Real Madrid)

You could be the best player in the world and then become one of the biggest soccer Transfer Flops of all time. Kaka gave an outstanding performance in

AC Milan

. He joined the club in 2003 for a fee of reported €8.5 million. In Italy, his performances saw him win the FIFA World Player of the Year, the 2007 Ballon d'Or, the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker awards. His pace and technique were making him unstoppable.

After six years with Milan, Kaka joined Real Madrid in 2009 for a transfer fee of €67 million, which was the second highest transfer fee at the time. In his presence in Real Madrid, he had four injuries. Meanwhile Ozil was becoming a crucial part of the team.

In four years playing for the club,


scored 29 goals and had 32 assists in 120 games. Real lost out in La Liga, The Champions League, and the Copa del Ray to Barcelona throughout his time at the club. 

Di Maria (Real Madrid - Manchester United)

Angel Di Maria's performance in Real Madrid was remarkable. He was one of the most shining "galacticos". His pace and dribbling skills were so good that no one would believe that he might be one of the biggest transfer flops in soccer history. Di Maria's story in Real had a happy ending. In August 2014, Real Madrid won their tenth UCL in the final against local rival Atletico. Di Maria was a man of the match and received his award by

Manchester United

legend Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United broke the highest-paid player ranking in premier league history that was held by Torres moving to Chelsea in 2011. His transfer costed




<span style="font-family:cambria,serif">

Even though he had a good start in Manchester, he named the worst signing of the year, at the end of the season. Scoring only 3 goals in 27 premier league appearances was not what United fans wanted from their number 7. Di Maria was clearly unhappy in Manchester and accepted the PSG offer after one season in British football.

Zlatan (Inter Milan - Barcelona)

Zlatan Ibrahimović is one of the most iconic footballers of all time who made to our list of top big money flops in football history. In Italy, he was the king; a

crucial part of Juventus' attack.  Even after he left Juventus to its main rival


during Calciopoli scandal remained a king.

He won three consecutive scudetto and a Capocannoniere (top goal scorer) award in the last one. Considering Zlatan's incredible abilities, everything seemed to be perfect for him until Barcelona came up with an offer Inter couldn't refuse. In 2009, he moved to Barcelona and Samuel Eto'o joined Joe Mourinho's magical team plus more than 45 million paid by


. Scoring 16 is not a disaster unless you're talking about Zlatan.


He couldn't bear Guardiola's conservative style and being Messi's sidekick. In UCL ironically, they crossed paths with Inter in the semi-final that resulted in defeat for Barcelona and completing treble for


. At the end of the season, Ibrahimović returned to Italy, and that cost 24 million for AC Milan!

In Milan he had another great season ending AC Milan's only championship of the decade.

Benjamin Mendy (Monaco - Manchester City)

Benjamin Mendy was an outstanding player during his time at Monaco and Olympique Marseille, which saw his market value quadruple in only a couple of seasons. In 2017, he moved to the English club

Manchester City

in a then world-record transfer fee for a defender. Everyone at the club wants Mendy to be successful given the tremendous amount paid for him. However, he had a long list of injuries and surgeries since arriving in England.

In three full seasons, he had 36 appearances in Premier League which are too few given his £52 million transfer fee. Without the athleticism that was on full display for Monaco, Mendy could be one of the most expensive football flops. Since joining the club, his transfer value has dropped £20 million.



Manchester City has been content to settle for ‘good enough’ in their transfer policy rather than looking to show real ambition and edge. This approach has created one of the top big money flops in football history.

John Stones (Everton - Manchester City) 

Stones was one of the first defenders to sign for Manchester City club after Guardiola laid out his plan to raise a solid wall at the back. So far, his plan hasn’t been successful. Stones came to the city of Manchester with a lot of promises and potentials from


. But injuries and bad form have seen his reputation plummet from great heights.

He got his name on the list top big money flops in football history after his £47.5 million move. He hasn’t been able to deliver mostly due to constant injuries which have sidelined him for quite a while since joining Manchester City in 2016. In the previous season, he had just 11 full appearances and five replacements. He found a regular role hard to come by with Fernandinho and Eric Garcia selected ahead of him in the defense line. 85 appearances in four complete Premier League seasons for this price can lead him in the top big money flops in football history.

Stones could be a great addition to a side like Arsenal, who have been struggling defensively in the last couple of years. Most of all, he still has plenty of football left in him given that he’s 26 years old and will be eager to get back his career in line.

Joao Mario (Sporting - Inter)

Inter Milan's new ownership, Suning Holdings, wanted to have a good first impression on Nerazzurri fans. What they came up with was an active summer transfer window. Joao Mario was the most expensive transfer they made that summer with €40 million. At the time, he was the second most expensive player Inter ever had. Mario had an amazing summer with


national team. He was wearing the number 10 jersey and played in all the matches in Euro 2016. As European Champion, he went to Italy. In 30 Serie A appearances, he scored 2 goals and had 3 assists, and in the next season his performance in 14 matches didn't satisfy Roberto Mancini. He criticized Inter because he believed they treated him "like a child".

In January, he left Inter for a loan transfer to West Ham. Although his performance was good, West Ham didn't want to keep him in London. So, he returned to Milan. Inter decided to give him another chance but again, it didn't work out. Inter loaned him to Lokomotiv with a €18 million buy option. Instead, he appeared in 18 league matches and even Russia was not his place. Meanwhile, Inter Milan’s lineup was crowded, especially midfielders. He would be the 8th option for Antonio Conte to play in midfield, so he loaned out again but this time back to Sporting. He might want to stay in Lisbon. Sometimes there is no place to hide when you are one of the top big money flops in football history.

Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors - Shenhuba)

Carlos Tevez has always been an outlaw warrior both on and off the field. With all the troubles he causes it's worth it to see his abilities on the lineup. Sometimes he is on the naughty list. Like when he moved from Manchester United to its rival Manchester City, or maybe when he refused to play in City. His presence in Corinthians and

West Ham

didn't last long but In Juventus, everything was good again and he felt at home. Then he literally went back home to


with a warm welcome.

But his trip to China was pure evil. In 2016 he moved to Shanghai with a €10.5 million one-year contract which was already a big number. The biggest number was his €35 million salary that made him the highest-paid footballer of the year. The small numbers were his appearances and goals. He played only 16 matches and scored 4 goals. That means he approximately earned €2 million per match and €8 million per goal. The next year, he returned from his bounty back home to Boca.

Spending more money does not necessarily guarantee any success. A free transfer could be Robert Lewandowski while a 40 million talent may make his way to be on our list of biggest transfer flops in soccer history. There are also free transfer players that cost as much as most expensive soccer flops by ruining their teammates' efforts. 



DISCLAIMER! Sportmob does not claim ownership of any of the pictures posted on this website. Again, we do not host pictures or videos ourselves. Our authors merely link to the rightful owner. Lastly, Sportmob have carefully considered and reviewed all of its content. Despite that, it is possible that some information might be out-dated or incomplete.