Following on from the top 10 best Premier League transfers of the season, this article runs through some of the more forgettable acquisitions of the 2007/08 campaign...
Money: the gift and the curse. The Barclays English Premier League has unquestionably benefitted from it, evidenced by several top signings being made this season as Sky television's financial clout continues to elevate the English game.
The candidates for the 'best' list were innumerous, but it was equally troublesome picking just 10 when deciding on the worst transfers of the season, as clubs continue to pay extortionate fees, acquire useless or troublesome players, and occasionally just flat-out baffle us with levels of stupidity previously reserved for American Presidents.
As such, the assessment of this season's spending is suitably light-hearted and not to be taken too seriously, and as always, Goal.com welcomes the opinions of one and all on who should and shouldn't be in the list. Without further ado...
10) Claudio Pizarro, Steve Sidwell and Tal Ben-Haim (Bayern Munich, Reading and Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea)
It's never the best of ideas to include free signings in a list of this nature, but when three utterly abysmal ones are made in unison by the most cash-happy club in the world, questions must be asked.
It is understood that 'The Free Musketeers' were brought in to enhance squad depth, but to treat players in and around their prime so frivolously is laughable. Claudio Pizarro was a top striker in Bavaria with Bayern Munich, but as his performances dropped and the club failed to even make the top three of the Bundesliga, he was one of several casualties. While fellow South American Roque Santa-Cruz has faired so well at Blackburn Rovers after his summer move, Pizarro has followed in team-mate Shevchenko's footsteps: another highly rated forward playing in Europe who has come to Chelsea and only succeeding in embarrassing himself.
Steve Sidwell is average. Honestly, not a lot more need be said. With Roman Abramovich calling for flair football, the only way Sidwell will light up Chelsea performances is by virtue of his ginger hair, and he can't even take credit for that.
Tal Ben-Haim has been the least tragic of the trio. But even he was skinned by Fernando Torres early on in the season and looked off the pace against far less illustrious opposition as well. He failed to play with the same confidence he had at Bolton Wanderers. Before he knew it, fellow new signing Alex was settled, match-fit and had usurped him. On top of that, there was the small matter of arguably the player of the season Ricardo Carvalho along with club captain John Terry to contend with. Even when fellow Israeli Avram Grant took charge of the club, Tal's first team prospects did not change - if anything, they decreased - which has culminated in a hilarious outburst from the stopper aimed at his already under-fire boss, who almost laughed it off when questioned at a press conference, which says it all.
9) Robert Earnshaw (Norwich City to Derby County)
Derby have become so pathetic that after their latest league loss, boss Paul Jewell quite admirably accepted that his side were nowhere near the standard required to compete in this league. What magnificent mind, then, thought to spend a club-record fee of Â£3.5 million on a striker who had only ever proven anything in the lower leagues?
Even more hilarious is the fact that both Billy Davies - who signed the 27-year-old - and his replacement Paul Jewell have decided against playing the Zambian-born Welshman (yes, apparently Wales has a Zambian population of approximately two: Earnshaw and his mother). Adding to the embarrassment, the Rams went on to spend Â£3 million on Kenny Miller, the man who has more or less kept Earnie out of the team. The identitiy of the transfer that guru thought to spend what precious little money the midlands club had on a player they didn't need unfortunately remains a secret, but Earnshaw's failure does not.
The Rams have long been resigned to relegation and have been looking toward rebuilding a side fit to contest in the Premier League if and when they return. Accordingly, Earnie may be out this summer as Derby's ugly season draws to a close. Let's face it: if ugliness is the problem, Earnshaw is not the solution.
8) Younes Kaboul (Auxerre to Tottenham Hotspur)
While bitter city rivals were off spending Â£1 million less buying from the same club what turned out to be one of the signings of the season in Bacary Sagna, Tottenham got Kaboul.
He is young, he has scored goals, he's named after a terror-zone - what's not to love? He can't defend. Â£7 million for the Moroccan-born French national was beyond excessive, and Spurs will never be a big club if they spend so frivolously - as cruel fate would have it, you can only afford such blunders once you're already on top. With Michael Dawson already making up the full quota of young, physically imposing blithering idiots in the Spurs backline and Jonathan Woodgate joining club captain Ledley King in the damaged goods section, Kaboul is looking to be very much surplus to requirements at the Lane and could well be headed for the exit door as Juande Ramos plans his summer overhaul.
7) Rolando Bianchi (Reggina to Manchester City)
Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City revolution has been admirable. Yes, he has Thaksin Shinawatra's big black sack of quite-possibly-laundered money to back him up, but he has spent fairly well and has a good eye for talent. Bianchi, though, just did not work out.
An emerging Italian striker with a suitably physical presence about him that would have you believe he might be able to cut it against the hard-men otherwise known as Premier League defenders, Sven took a chance with Bianchi. Splashing out a sizeable Â£8.8 million to land the 25-year-old from Serie A relegation strugglers Reggina, with whom Bianchi had previously enjoyed two successful seasons, the City fans were expectant.
He hated England. He's not the first and certainly will not be the last Italian to come to this country and despise it from top to bottom. He has been spared the embarrassment of a higher place on the list purely because Sven made the smart move of offloading him at the first possible opportunity. He has gone back to Italy on loan to an under-performing Lazio side, with whom he has made a good start. Assuming Sven does well enough to recover a significant amount of the original transfer fee come this summer, it will be business not-so-badly done on part of the Swede.
6) Diomansy Kamara (West Bromwich Albion to Fulham)
Has Lawrie Sanchez cost Fulham their place in the Premier League? The coach did a fantastic job in charge of Northern Ireland and was head-hunted by Mohamed Al-Fayed to take over from Chris Coleman at Craven Cottage. Cookie was constantly forced to sell while in charge of the club, while Sanchez was allowed to reap the benefits of his work by spending over Â£25 million in one summer. Most of it was spent on trying to re-unite all of Northern Ireland at the Cottage; a disastrous experiment that went horribly wrong. Chris Baird in particular stood out as the white equivalent of Titus Bramble for his consistent ability to make the worst of each and every situation.
However, the biggest money was splashed out on Diomansy Kamara - a man little more proven than Earnshaw, who cost almost twice as much - and he has failed to live up to his price tag. He has not been 'bad' - the team has struggled in general - but besides his spectacular last-minute overhead-kick to equalise against Tottenham, he has struggled to exhibit anything close to Â£6.5 million's worth of quality. He belongs in the Championship, and due to Fulham's pathetic season, it looks like he will end up being back there very soon.
5) Craig Bellamy (Liverpool to West Ham United)
If your budget can't quite buy consistency, that's one thing, but why anyone would willingly sign Craig 'nine iron' Bellamy given his track-record off the pitch quite frankly beggards belief. He is reported to have earned Liverpool an unbelievable Â£7.5 million - yes, they made a profit - despite enduring a hit-and-miss time at the top and having always been erratic and inconsistent everywhere else.
This is a player capable of occasional moments of brilliance - even if he is Welsh - but for every one of those there are 10 or 15 wasted chances and, due to injuries and what can kindly be referred to as a lack of quality, Bellamy has failed to pay back even a quarter of his transfer fee during his stay so far at Upton Park.
He is the sole representative from the Hammers' summer signings, of which several were absolutely woeful. Whether this can be put down to the world's most convenient excuse of 'bad luck' or whether the east London outfit are quite simply negligent and have a medical that a chain-smoking sumo wrestler could pass with flying colours isn't quite clear. At the end of the day, Julien Faubert, Kieron Dyer, Scott Parker and others promised a lot - and accumatively, made West Ham one of the top summer spenders - but have ultimately only succeeded in staving off relegation and very little more. Embarrassing.