Five of the most disappointing signings of the Premier League season

The transfer window is a time of feverish excitement for Premier League fans, as the rumours swirl and optimism arrives with announcements of new signings.

This season English football has once again led the way for transfer spending across Europe, spending hundreds of millions on new additions in a bid to realise their season’s goals.

Whilst several signings have enjoyed seasons to remember, there has been more than a fair share of disappointments. So for those of you who like to follow the latest soccer odds, we’ve decided to look at some of the most underwhelming arrivals of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.

Raphael Varane

Manchester United began the new season with dreams of challenging for the Premier League title, a summer of recruitment that saw Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho arrive causing huge excitement at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo was the returning hero and, whilst ageing, had finished as Serie A’s leading scorer in 2020/21. The 37-year-old has netted 24 goals in all competitions during a season in which he has been surrounded with much mediocrity and despite the short-termism of his signing has arguably prevented the side from dropping to even greater lows.

The arrivals of Sancho and Varane have proven hugely disappointing, however. Sancho has managed just three goals and three assists in the Premier League this season, having racked up 114 goal involvements in just 137 appearances across four seasons at Borussia Dortmund.

It’s a poor return from the £72m signing, but at 22-years-old and with a season of Premier League football behind him he is capable of substantial improvement.

Varane has been perhaps the most disappointing of the trio of marquee men. Lauded as ‘Champions League Varane’ upon his arrival after four successes in the competition with Real Madrid, the centre-back will spend next season outside of Europe’s elite after his role in the club’s worst-ever Premier League campaign.

Injuries have not helped his adaptation to English football, but having been signed as the solution to the club’s defensive woes he has looked shaky and has contributed to the Red Devils posting their worst defensive record of the Premier League era.

Romelu Lukaku

He might be Chelsea’s leading scorer across all competitions, but there’s no disputing Romelu Lukaku’s return to West London has proven underwhelming.

Viewed as the signing that could transform Thomas Tuchel’s team from contenders into champions, he has instead struggled to find his role at Chelsea and has found himself sidelined for much of the season.

Chelsea have failed to bring the best from the burly Belgian, who was seen his fortunes nosedive since being the bulldozing battering-ram who led Inter Milan to Serie A title success last season, scooping the division’s Most Valuable Player award in the process.

For just the second time in eight seasons Lukuku looks set to finish on less than 20 goals in all competitions in a campaign, a meagre return for a footballer who cost a club-record £97.5m last summer.

It has looked the perfect fit on paper, but as the season reaches its conclusion Lukaku’s long-term future remains unclear.

Leon Bailey

Aston Villa’s business looked shrewd and savvy after selling Jack Grealish for £100m last summer, reinvesting that fee into the signings of Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia.

That trio of attacking talent was acquired with the hope to share the creative burden Grealish carried and looked like sensible business, with Bailey in particular having been a talent once courted by the Premier League’s elite.

The Jamaica international has failed to fire, however, with an assist and goal in his first three Premier League fixtures proving a false dawn for the summer signing.

He has registered just one goal involvement since and has started just two Premier League games since sustaining a thigh injury on December 1.

Having registered nine goals and eight assists in his final Bundesliga season at Bayer Leverkusen, it’s been a disappointing debut campaign for the £30m wide-man.

Bryan Gil

Bryan Gil arrived at Tottenham last summer with the North Londoners securing a £21.6m deal for the Spain u21 international.

It can be argued that Gil’s arrival in the Premier League was arguably the most forgettable signing of the season, as he struggled to convince either Nuno Espirito Santo or Antonio Conte at Spurs.

The 21-year-old managed just 86 minutes of Premier League football across six substitute appearances, before returning to Spain to sign on loan for Valencia in January.

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Gil has since admitted that he struggled with the physical demands of English football.

“Every player needs to have continuity, to feel important. Here, at Valencia, I feel (important) from the first day,” Gil said in an interview with AS. “Not playing affects you on a day-to-day basis, obviously, because you are sadder and more downcast. But it is part of football and you have to accept it.

“In the Premier League, training sessions are very physical, very hard. And that has helped me not to feel fatigue now. The adaptation, for me, was difficult. It is very physical football. Back and forth. Being there has been good for me, even if I didn’t play as much as I wanted. I’m more mature.

“I changed habits like eating. I had a chef at home and I gained two kilos. Even so, I noticed that it was not enough for the physical level that exists in the Premier League.”

Dele Alli

Dele Alli’s career nosedive has continued despite the chance of a fresh start at Everton, the struggling Merseysiders having taken a chance on the midfielder during the January transfer window.

Alli had fallen out of favour in North London with a number of managers having overlooked the 26-year-old, who has fallen from a status as one of the Premier League’s most exciting young talents to a forgotten figure in the division.

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The deal was understood to be an initial free transfer but structured so that it could reach £40m based on performance-related add-ons, a scenario that looks unlikely to be reached given Alli’s peripheral role at Goodison Park.

The 37-cap midfielder has failed to start a single Premier League fixture for the Toffees, totalling just 220 minutes of action for Everton despite their precarious position near the foot of the table.

A former back-to-back winner of the PFA Young Player of the Year and a key figure for England and Spurs, Alli’s career is one that burned bright in its infancy but has badly stalled in recent seasons.

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