The Premier League is rightly considered as one of the best leagues in the world, and over the years, plenty of players have sealed a dream move to England to try their luck in the top-flight. Unfortunately, some failed to make the impact they wanted to, but they did go on to impress after leaving England. We’ve taken a look at 20 Premier League flops who went on to star in Europe…
It’s crazy to think that Tony Pulis didn’t think Serge Gnabry was good enough during the German’s brief loan spell at West Brom from Arsenal in 2015! The Gunners ended up selling the winger for just £5m to Werder Bremen and he’s gone from strength to strength in the Bundesliga. Gnabry is now one of Bayern Munich’s star men and has taken down both Tottenham and Chelsea in this season’s Champions League.
Mohamed Salah is now a Premier League star with Liverpool, but that wasn’t the case during his first spell in England with Chelsea! The Egyptian sealed a permanent Stamford Bridge exit to Roma in 2016 and starred for the Serie A side during his only season at the Stadio Olimpico.
Much was expected when Memphis Depay signed for Manchester United in 2015, however, he endured a torrid 18-month stint at Old Trafford. The Red Devils cut their losses with the Dutchman in 2017, and since his move to Lyon, Depay has been one of the best attackers in Ligue 1.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne was regarded as a flop after he failed to break into Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea plans and left for Wolfsburg in 2014. The Belgian showcased his talent in the Bundesliga during his one season away from England, with Manchester City paying a huge £55m to bring the midfielder back to the Premier League. It’s proved to be an inspired piece of business over the last five years.
Liverpool fans grew frustrated with Iago Aspas during his short stint at Anfield, but he’s become a prolific goalscorer back in Spain following his Merseyside exit. The Spaniard returned to Celta Vigo and picked up from where he left off two years earlier by banging in the goals.
Falcao endured two awful loan spells in England with Manchester United and Chelsea between 2014-2016, however, the Colombian went on to enjoy three brilliant seasons back at Monaco following those failed stints in the Premier League. He was part of that famous Monaco side in 2016/17 and scored 70 goals in three seasons before leaving for Galatasaray.
Many forget that Jerome Boateng was actually a Manchester City player at one point, with the German defender now known as a Bayern Munich legend. Boateng moved to City from Hamburg in 2010 but struggled in the Premier League. He’s gone on to win 12 major honours with Bayern and a World Cup – not bad for a Premier League flop!
Some Manchester United fans would probably question Diego Forlan’s label as a flop in England, but he went on to star in Spain with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid following his Old Trafford exit in 2004. He couldn’t stop scoring in La Liga after netting just 17 goals in 98 United appearances.
Pep Guardiola could probably do with a defender like Stefan Savic at the Etihad now! Manchester City had the Montenegro international for one season in 2011 but decided to cash in on the player after he struggled in the Premier League. He’s been with Atletico Madrid since 2015 and has proved vital in Diego Simeone’s solid backline over the last few years.
Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria’s big-money move to Manchester United in 2014 quickly turned sour, and the Argentine was out the door at Old Trafford less than 12 months after arriving. He joined Paris Saint-Germain and has rekindled his career, winning nine honours at the Parc des Princes.
You don’t expect a former Middlesbrough striker to be linked with a move to Barcelona a year after leaving the Riverside, but that’s exactly what happened with Cristhian Stuani. The Uruguayan scored just four goals in one top-flight season with Boro and moved to Girona in 2017. Stuani then netted 40 times for the Spanish side in two La Liga campaigns, resulting in links with a move to the Nou Camp!
Newcastle United paid Marseille £13m for Florian Thauvin in 2015 but he lasted just half a season at St James’ Park! He’s been back at Marseille ever since and has become one of the best attacking midfielders in French football. He definitely should have been given more time in England.
Suso only made 21 appearances for Liverpool during his five-year stay at Anfield, so nobody in Merseyside would have expected him to become a star in Serie A with AC Milan. His start to life at the San Siro was tricky, however, the Spaniard has become a key player for the Italian giants over the last three years!
Anthony Modeste failed to live up to expectations during his loan spell with Blackburn Rovers in 2012, and he’ll be remembered for no goals, a red card and one relegation at Ewood Park. The French forward went on to star in Germany with Hoffenheim and Koln after his struggles in England, finding the back of the net with ease.
Gerard Pique was only 21 when he returned to Barcelona from Manchester United, but he can be considered an Old Trafford flop considering what he has gone on to achieve in his career! Sir Alex Ferguson had enough of the Spaniard after a defeat to Bolton Wanderers, with Pique establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the world over the last 10 years.
Steven N’Zonzi’s inclusion on this list is purely based on his career trajectory following his Premier League exit in 2015. The Frenchman was a regular for Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City across a six-year period, however, he’s been a different player abroad for Sevilla and Roma, which resulted in interest from the likes of Barcelona and Juventus. Blackburn and Stoke will be wondering why they couldn’t get the best out of the World Cup winner.
Nikola Kalinic could only manage seven goals in two seasons with Blackburn Rovers, but he shocked everyone at Ewood Park by going on to score for fun for Dnipro and Fiorentina over a seven-year period, which earnt him a move to current employers Atletico Madrid.
Many were excited when Chelsea signed Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina in 2015, however, that excitement quickly faded at Stamford Bridge. He failed to become a regular in London and was sent out on loan to Juventus four months later. Cuadrado has been in Turin ever since and helped the Italian giants to three successive doubles!
Giovani dos Santos
Giovani dos Santos joined Tottenham from Barcelona with a big reputation in 2008, however, his four-year stint in north London never really got going. He left Spurs permanently in 2012 and starred for Mallorca and Villarreal, which earned him a move stateside with LA Galaxy.
Leicester City’s remarkable 18-month period between 2015-2016 saw them avoid relegation before going on to lift the title the following season. Many forget that Andrej Kramaric was a Foxes player during that time, but after contributing very little to the dramatic survival story, he was sent on loan to Hoffenheim. The Croatia international made that move to the Bundesliga permanent, and he’s been impressing in Germany ever since.