Worst World Cup Signings
With some eye-catching performances at this year’s World Cup, some players have been unsurprisingly linked with moves to the Premier League.
With Mexico’s heroic keeper Guillermo Ochoa linked with a move to the Premier League, along with a host of Costa Rica stars, this World Cup is looking like a great shop window for previously unheralded players. However, English clubs should display caution as some previous post-tournament transfers haven’t exactly lived up to their World Cup displays.
Jermaine Jones may be earning the plaudits after his sensational goal against Portugal last night, but twenty years ago his namesake Cobi was lighting up USA’s tournament on home soil. The dreadlocked midfielder was an ever-present in the host’s side and performed admirably in their narrow second round defeat to eventual champions Brazil. His performances led to a race for his signature with Coventry City boss Phil Neal convincing Jones to join USA team-mate Roy Wegerle at Highfield Road. Despite being aged 24 at the time, his season at Coventry was his first as a professional and the step up in class was to prove too much for the speedy midfielder. After two goals in 24 appearances he was sold to Vasco da Gama in Brazil before seeing out most of his career at LA Galaxy.
El Hadji Diouf
Possibly the archetypal post-World Cup flop signing, Diouf starred in the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea where Senegal shocked the football world on their first finals appearance by reaching the Quarter Finals. Diouf failed to score but his Man of the Match performance in their win over France convinced Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier that the Lens striker could help the club in their quest for Premier League glory. Following his £11 million transfer, Diouf scored a brace on his first Anfield appearance but only notched one further goal in two controversy-strewn seasons. His spell at Liverpool is epitomised by Jamie Carragher’s quote that the forward “has one of the worst strike rates of any forward in Liverpool history. He’s the only no. 9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring, in fact he’s probably the only no. 9 of any club to do that. He was always the last one to get picked in training.”
It could be argued that before Spain had even conceived the concept of the “false number nine”, France had won a World Cup with one. Stephane Guivarc’h led the line for the French during their 1998 triumph, including an appearance in the final, but failed to score during the tournament. However, Les Bleus boss Aime Jacquet felt the striker’s role was “pivotal” to their success. Undeterred by his scoring record, Newcastle United manager Kenny Dalglish shelled out £3.5 million for the forward who duly scored on his league debut. However, his poor form led to only three further league appearances before The Toon recouped their outlay when Guivarc’h was offloaded to Glasgow Rangers.
Liverpool have had more success playing Milan than signing strikers with the same name. After Milan Baros spent a disappointing spell at the club in the early Noughties, Roy Hodgson was impressed by Serbia’s Milan Jovanovic at the finals in South Africa in 2010 and fought off a late bid by another Milan – Inter – to sign the striker. The former Standard Liege forward grabbed the winner for the Serbs against Germany in those finals but failed to replicate this form in England – failing to make the score-sheet in ten league games. He lasted just one season before returning to Belgium with Anderlecht where he had a moderately successful spell before retiring last year.