Premier League Football: The Worst Signings of 2020/2021

Premier League football clubs can often buy some players who do not succeed. DESIblitz reveals the worst signings of the 2020/2021 season.

Premier League Football: The Worst Signings of 2020:2021 - F

"So we're getting used to a new system, but at the moment it's not working."

The 29th edition of Premier League football has had some of the worst signings for the 2020/2021 season.

Initially, the pandemic forced a halt on the games and some of the matches were even cancelled or postponed.

COVID-19 also became one of the key factors for some players having performance issues.

The 2020/2021 season saw some very big spending sprees by the English clubs.

Chelsea alone spent over £200m on new signings. Liverpool and Manchester United also spent big to secure the best talent.

However, the huge amount of money spent on players only increases the pressure on clubs and players to do well. But money cannot guarantee success.

The English Premier League is arguably the toughest and the most popular football league in the world.

Some players come and shine, with others going into a downward spiral.

Naturally, some players fail so miserably that they are criticised for being the worst signings in the league.

DESIblitz brings you a list of players that have been the worst signings in the 2020/2021 Premier League season

Willian – Arsenal

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Willian moved to Arsenal on a free transfer from London rivals Chelsea FC in August 2020 amidst much fanfare.

His debut performance only raised fan’s expectations when he assisted with two goals in a 3-0 win over Fulham.

He was even named man of the match by Arsenal fans all over the world. However, the Brazilian has been one of their worst signings since then.

Even during the latter part of the Premier League, his performances had not taken off.

By the beginning of May 2021, the midfielder had managed only 5 assists and 0 goals in 23 appearances for The Gunners.

Willian’s performance in the 3 other competitions, Europa League, FA Cup ABD EFL Cup have been equally unflattering.

Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, was initially very positive about their new signing.

Though it seems as if the winger has become a major worry for him.

Willian had a decent run with Chelsea, where he played for 7 years but was forced to leave the club after failing to agree on a contract.

During the 2019/2020 season alone he scored 11 goals for the Blues.

The Gunners were expecting the same world-class football from the Brazilian but all seems to have gone downhill for him.

People are already questioning the decision of giving him a three-year deal worth around £150,000 ($197,000) a week.

Speaking to The Mirror, the winger admits sitting on the bench was the “worst time that I think I lived as a professional.”

There are growing demands for Nicolas Pepe to be given priority over the Brazilain. The midfielder is at an age where one can quickly take a tumble.

Kai Havertz – Chelsea

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Kai Havertz was the most expensive summer signing of 2020. Chelsea signed him from Bayer Leverkusen for £71 million.

The midfielder was considered as one of the best young talents to watch out for because of his outstanding form in the Bundesliga.

He had a brilliant 2019/2020 season with the German club, scoring 18 goals and 9 assists.

When the London club signed Havertz, The Blues expected a similar sensational display.

But the German has not produced anything exceptional, being one of this season’s worst signings for Chelsea.

His performance was hampered when he tested positive for COVID-19 early in the season and took quite some time to recover.

Another reason possibly was a new start to life in a foreign land and the pandemic induced travel ban.

Havertz had been likened to Michael Ballack, Chelsea’s legendary ex-midfielder who was also from Germany.

Havertz’s expensive price tag and his poor form could not have been further away from this analogy.

He has scored 8 goals and 8 assists in 40 appearances across four competitions this season.

Though it must not be forgotten that he is very young and new players usually take some time to adjust to another league and country.

The German has come to some form under Thomas Tuchel. Many football pundits have vouched for him to shine for the 2021/2022 season.

Donny van de Beek – Manchester United

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The inclusion of Donny Van De Beek in this list is not due to his performance but the fact that his signing was not really suited for Manchester United.

The Dutch international arrived from Ajax to Old Trafford on a five-year deal in August 2020.

The midfielder had a phenomenal run with the Dutch club. He even reached the Champions League semifinal in 2019.

The United fans were very excited when it was announced that Van De Beek would sign for the club for a decent £40 million.

However, former United players and many supporters have questioned the need to bring him to the club.

United already had 4 other players-, Fred, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, and Bruno Fernandes in the same position that Donny plays.

These 4 players have been quite regular for United. They have shown impressive performance throughout the season. Fernandes in particular has been outstanding.

Solskjaer did not have the Dutchman in his plans.

He has not even discovered the midfielder’s best position. This is one of the reasons why the player has been disappointing for The Red Devils.

Van De Beek has 1 goal and 2 assist contributions from 32 appearances in European and domestic football this season. He has barely had any game time for United.

This is a very sad situation for any player who caused a big stir, following his arrival. There are already rumours in the market to send him on loan this summer.

His former club Ajax has shown an interest to re-sign him.

Rhian Brewster – Sheffield United

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It was hoped that Rhian Brewster would help fire Sheffield United to Premier League safety.

The striker was bought from Liverpool for a club record of £23.5 million on a 5-year deal.

For a player who had not played in the Premier League yet, this transfer was a huge risk.

The Englishman was on loan at Swansea City where he scored 11 goals in 22 games in the 2019/2020 Championship season.

Brewster had one of the Championship’s best goals-per-game ratios and fired Swansea to sixth-place.

He was given a direct entry into Premier League action by Sheffield in October 2020.

The Yorkshire side needed to solve their striker crisis after their first season in the top flight. But the signing seems to have been a hasty decision.

Brewster has scored zero goals and as many assists in 28 appearances for The Blades across all competitions. A figure that makes him one of their worst signings this season.

His poor run was kind of foreboded when he missed a penalty for Liverpool in the Community Shield match against Arsenal in August 2020.

What was more, Sheffield had already lost their first four games of this season by the time Brewster arrived. This continued for another 17 winless games; the longest winless start in Premier League history.

It has also been said that Chris Wilder, Sheffield’s then-manager, was sacked because of his decision to bring Brewster to the club. A Daily Mirror source said:

“Chris knew before Christmas that he would not be in charge next season.”

“The club was not prepared to back him in January because of what had happened with Brewster.”

The signing of Brewster had certainly gone pear-shaped for Sheffield United.

Gedson Fernandes – Tottenham Hotspur

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Gedson Fernandes was signed on loan from Benfica for £42.76m. This was for an 18-month period in January 2020.

Even though Fernandes seemed like a talented prospect, he failed to meet the expectations of the Tottenham fans.

He was expected to fill the place of Christian Eriksen after the latter moved to Inter Milan in January 2020.

The Portuguese midfielder was on the bench for three games and only played in two across all English competitions.

Spurs warded off many competitors to sign him, but the move has been nothing but a major disappointment.

His two appearances came in the Carabao Cup against Chelsea and in the FA Cup against Marine this season.

He was even left out of Tottenham’s Europa League squad by  Jose Mourinho.

His disappointing loan spell at Tottenham was eventually cut short when Galatasaray signed him on loan in February 2021.

The Portuguese international was confirmed by the Turkish club on deadline day, February 1, 2021.  But during the same time, he got Covid-19.

He eventually took off in an ambulance plane to sort the deal out.

In December 2020, Benfica boss Jorge Jesus himself acknowledged Fernandes would have been better off not going to England. He said:

“Now, all these young people that Benfica has if they don’t play in these teams, it is better to be at Benfica.

“In my opinion, they learn much more (if they stay).”

Fernandes can be regarded as one of Tottenham’s worst signings in this season of the Premier League.

It was a very short-lived Spurs career for someone who was quite popular in the January 2020 transfer window.

Timo Werner – Chelsea

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One player that has been talked about the most is Timo Werner this season. The German has received quite a bit of criticism on social media.

However, the German has continued to show belief in his abilities and constantly says that he is working hard to improve.

He has 11 goals and 13 assists in 46 games for Chelsea this season.

In comparison, Timo had 34 goals and 13 assists for RB Leipzig in the 2019-2020 season. This is why he has been termed a flop in the Premier League.

Additionally, the fact that he failed to score numerous potential goals has gone against him.

He even misfired a potential goal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on April 27, 2021.

This would have given Chelsea a very comfortable edge over the Spanish team for their return to the second leg.

Thomas Tuchel and Frank Lampard have constantly shown faith in the striker but he hasn’t lived up to his Bundesliga reputation.

He joined The Blues for £47.5 million and has self admittedly struggled to find his rhythm in English football.

Werner seems to be causing a lot of menace for the opposition with his pace and positioning. Having said that, it’s just the goals are not flowing.

Time will tell how much longer the Chelsea board can be patient with him. Chelsea has an array of options and Werner does not have much time if he continues to play like this.

Takumi Minamino – Liverpool

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Takumi Minamino was always going to have tough at Liverpool. This was due to him being in direct competition with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Robert Firmino.

The Japanese signed for The Reds from RB Salzburg in January 2020 for £7.25m after a wonderful season with the latter.

Jurgen Klopp was extremely happy when the decision was made to bring Minamino to Liverpool.

The winger had impressed Klopp when he scored against The Reds in the Champions League group stage in 2019.

However, he soon found it very difficult to settle in Liverpool, with the onset of the pandemic and fierce competition.

The Japanese international continued to struggle to make an impact at Anfield.

Minamino could be called one of Liverpool’s worst signings due to lack of playing time and established choices.

To better understand the English league, he finally joined Southampton in February 2021 for the remainder of the season.

The Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was behind this loan move as the winger knew him from his RB Leipzig days.

His move will provide squad depth to Southampton and also give the player regular playing time.

Southampton tried to include a purchase option in the deal but Liverpool believed the winger was still in their plans for the 2021-2022 season.

The Saints paid £500,000 for his signature. Minamino scored 4 goals in 16 games for Liverpool in the 2020-2021 season before moving on to St. Mary’s.

Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool

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Thiago Alcantara was a very big name in the football world even before he arrived at Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp had been eyeing the Spaniard for quite some time and finally, in September 2020, the desire was realised.

Alcantara had a very successful spell at Bayern Munich – one of the best teams in the world.

He won 16 trophies, including the Bundesliga seven times in a row and the UEFA Champions League.

He signed for Liverpool in a transfer worth £27.3m on a four-year contract.

The midfielder was viewed as a great transaction when his transfer was finalised in the summer.

However, the Spaniard has been one of Liverpool’s worst signings of the season.

Ex-Liverpool players like John Barnes and Hamann have criticised Alacantra for slowing the game and lacking energy. Barnes said:

“When he slowed the game down in tight areas, that is not Mane’s game, that is not Salah’s game.”

“So we’re getting used to a new system, but at the moment it’s not working.”

His performance has also been hampered by injuries but one cannot deny that he doesn’t fit into Liverpool’s style of play.

The midfielder has come under fire for his overall style of play.

His tackling and different style of play compared to Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson seem to be the problem.

Despite being was brought to offer something different to Liverpool’s existing style, he has zero goals in 25 appearances.

He has occasionally shown flashes of his skills when he has played. But it still needs to be seen how he will fit in Klopp’s squad.

The Premier League is arguably the most elite domestic competition in Europe. It is bound to bring out the best and the worst in some players.

It will be interesting to see if some of these worst signings can redeem themselves.

Don’t be surprised if some clubs offload a few of these players ahead of the 30th season, beginning in September 2021.

Gazal is an English Literature and Media and Communications graduate. She loves football, fashion, travelling, films and photography. She believes in confidence and kindness and lives by the motto: "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."

Images courtesy of Reuters.

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