Continuing from our section on the best defensive signings of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, we transition to the ignominious list of the worst defensive signings of the season.
As stated in the previous article, the output of centre-halves can be difficult to quantify. Clean sheets, tackles and interceptions don’t translate as well as key passes, goals and assists do for more attacking players, but we’ve tried to base our findings on the transfer fee, appearances made, overall league finish and all the important individual statistics mentioned from before.
Once again, let us know if you agree with this list and who we forgot to mention in the comments section below.
5. Mike van der Hoorn – Ajax to Swansea for £2 million
An inexpensive signing from Ajax in the summer, Mike van der Hoorn has been reduced to a spectator since the turn of the year.
The Dutchman has not started a Premier League game since the 4-1 thrashing from West Ham on Boxing Day and, strangely enough, disappeared from Swansea’s starting line-up since the sacking of American manager Bob Bradley.
He has never played in a winning Swansea side in the Premier League as a starter (0 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses), with a League Cup win over Peterborough in August the only victory he has enjoyed when starting in the side.
4. Brad Smith – Liverpool to Bournemouth for £6 million
Given the size of Bournemouth, transfer business such as this can be ill-afforded if they hope to stay in the Premier League for years to come.
The Australian full-back makes up one half of Liverpool players that Bournemouth signed over the summer, with neither of them having made an impact for their new club. Smith has been a £6 million bench-warmer, starting just three league games, making eight appearances overall and watching Bournemouth play as an unused substitute on 25 occasions.
3. John Stones – Everton to Manchester City for £48 million
Was always going to make the list considering his mammoth transfer fee and stop-start playing time.
Admittedly, John Stones has his entire career in front of him to make a success of himself at Manchester City, but makes himself an easy target for criticism with his fearless style of play on the ball in deep positions.
His composure in possession and willingness to play short is one of his biggest assets, as shown through his 91.7% passing ratio (which ranks him at the top of the Premier League alongside Moussa Dembele), but it has proven to be a double-edged sword for the England international, as Stones has made three direct errors leading to a goal (joint-top in the Premier League for outfield players alongside Simon Francis).
2. Papy Djilobodji – Chelsea to Sunderland for £8 million
You’ve got to be doing something horribly wrong to not even earn a start in one of the league’s most calamitous defences.
That’s exactly what Papy Djilobodji appears to have done after not appearing in the starting line-up for Sunderland in almost four months.
Perhaps his lack of discipline has been David Moyes’ reason for not selecting him. He picked up a late and needless red card in the 3-0 win over Hull in November, and followed that up two months later with a Connor McGregor impression in the 2-0 loss to West Brom when he punched Darren Fletcher.
The incident was missed by the match officials but Djilobodji couldn’t escape the retrospective punishment from the FA, who banned him for four games. He has not played a single minute since.
1. Joleon Lescott – AEK Athens to Sunderland on a free
The first word that comes to mind when thinking of this transfer? Pointless.
Sunderland were clearly desperate for defensive cover in the January window when they identified Lescott, fresh off a relegation with Aston Villa the season before and peripheral for Greek Superleague outfit AEK Athens this, as a priority target.
At 34 years old, Lescott was never going to spark some kind of miraculous comeback for Sunderland in their abject efforts to avoid relegation, and adds to the thick layer of deadwood at the club as they prepare for the Championship.
Free transfer or not, there’s no justifying this decision. Awful business all round.