Ranking each Premier League club’s record signing from worst to best

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2022-2023 Premier League match against Fulham. Craven Cottage, August 2022. Credit: Alamy
Liverpool's Darwin Nunez celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2022-2023 Premier League match against Fulham. Craven Cottage, August 2022. Credit: Alamy

With the riches that have flooded English football since the advent of the Premier League, clubs seem to break their transfer record on a bi-annual basis – but that’s no guarantee of success.

Every club in the 2022-23 edition has made their most expensive signing since 2016, reflecting a vastly inflated transfer market. But, while some players have flourished, others have struggled to live up to expectations and have seen their reputation diminished.

We’ve ranked every Premier League club’s record purchase from worst to best.

20. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)

Ndombele has played under four managers at Tottenham and they’ve all, without fail, become exasperated with the £55million signing.

The midfielder has badly underperformed at Spurs with injuries and inconsistent form undermining his chances of justifying the massive transfer fee.

He has spent the 2022-23 season on loan with Italian league leaders Napoli, although even Luciano Spalletti seems fed up with him.

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19. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal)

Oh dear.

18. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge turned out to be nothing sort of a disaster. Having cost Thomas Tuchel a whopping £97.5million, things quickly turned sour for the striker.

Even before that interview, Lukaku struggled to fit into Tuchel’s system and the European champions often looked better without him in the side. Injuries have hampered him this season as he has scored just two goals for Inter since returning on loan.

17. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)

Signed for £45million during Ronald Koeman’s splurge in the summer of 2017, Sigurdsson often looked one-paced and quickly became a poster boy for Everton’s profligate recruitment strategy.

16. Jean Michael Seri (Fulham)

Michael Seri spent four years at Fulham, although two of those seasons were spent out on loan with Galatasaray and Bordeaux. The midfielder clearly had talent though and he played his role in their promotion from the Championship last season.

The 31-year-old who cost Fulham around £26million left the club on a free transfer in the summer and is now playing for Hull City in the Championship.

15. Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United)

Aaronson started out well at Leeds as he starred in their thumping 3-0 triumph over Chelsea earlier in the season. After what was a promising start, the 22-year-old has struggled to find the same consistency.

14. Enock Mwepu (Brighton)

Mwepu had several standout performances for Brighton during his first season with the club and was only expected to get better in the following years.

In October 2022 the midfielder retired from professional football at the age of 24 after being diagnosed with a rare hereditary heart condition and now coaches the Brighton Under-9s.

13. Keane Lewis-Potter (Brentford)

Brentford often smash it in the transfer market and so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt with this one. Since joining in the summer from Hull City, Lewis-Potter has only played 300 minutes of league football.

At only 21 years old, the winger has plenty of potential and we’re pretty sure that Brentford will be able to unlock it in the next few years to come.

12. Jack Grealish (Manchester City)

Grealish will be the first to admit he hasn’t had the desired impact since joining Manchester City for £100million in 2021.

“I obviously thought going to City, the best club in England, the best players, I’m going to get 20 or 30 goal involvements,” he said. “But it hasn’t been the case at all. I’ve actually struggled with my goals and assists.”

He played a somewhat supporting role during their 2021-22 Premier League campaign as he chipped in with six-goal contributions and there still feels like there is more to come from him.

11. Lucas Paqueta (West Ham)

The Brazilian midfielder became the Hammers’ record signing when he joined in the summer in a £51.3million deal. While Paqueta himself has shown glimpses of quality, he is probably a victim of West Ham’s poor season so far.

10. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

You’ll have your own thoughts about Pogba’s time at Manchester United – it’s almost impossible not to.

Given the extremities of opinion the midfielder inspires, we’re going to settle our backsides on the fence and put him somewhere in the middle.

9. Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa)

Signed to replace Grealish, Buendia has not yet justified the £33million fee Villa spent to bring him to Villa Park in 2021. The Argentine winger has showcased real glimpses of quality, albeit probably not on a consistent enough basis.

8. Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest)

Signed during their summer spending spree of 2022, Gibbs-White became joined from Wolves for a reported club record fee of £25 million with another potential £17 million in add-ons.

With four goal contributions in the Premier League this season, no Forest player has been involved in more goals than Gibbs-White. If they stay up this season, he will have a massive role to play.

7. Alexander Isak (Newcastle)

We’ve still not really seen a great deal from Isak in a Newcastle shirt after making his £63million transfer in the summer. The 23-year-old has been sidelined for most of the season with an injury although he is now back in the frame.

If he manages to maintain his current scoring record in the league of two goals every three games, he’ll be worth every penny Newcastle spent on him.

 

6. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)

He may have become a byword for haplessness during his spell at Liverpool but Palace fans recognised Benteke’s work-rate and were more willing to forgive his lack of goals.

The £27million striker scored 37 times for the club throughout his six-year stay with Palace. These days he is playing for MLS outfit DC United.

5. Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

Nunez has been a real opinion splitter at Anfield since making his £85.6million move from Benfica in the summer. His overall performances have been hugely promising, but he has been guilty of missing some big chances.

Darwin Nunez during the League Cup match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, December 2022. Credit: Alamy
Darwin Nunez during the League Cup match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, December 2022. Credit: Alamy

READ: Darwin Nunez’s no-sense dummy proved he’s the ‘Chaos GOAT’

4. Matheus Nunes (Wolves)

Wolves signed Nunes for a club record £38million fee in the summer and while they have struggled for form this season, the signing of the Portuguese midfielder has turned out to be an excellent bit of business.

The 24-year-old has already been eyed up by Liverpool and Wolves are expected to make a hefty profit on the player should they choose to cash in on him.

3. Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth)

The master of the dark arts, Lerma has proven to be an excellent bit of business from Bournemouth. The Colombian midfielder joined the Cherries in 2018 and he has been a regular first-teamer since.

The 28-year-old played his role in Bournemouth’s promotion from the Championship last season and he is still doing the business in the Premier League today.

2. Danny Ings (Southampton)

Ings played with distinction for Southampton after a club-record £20million move in 2019. 

The striker scored an impressive 22 league goals in 2019-20, becoming a must-have asset on Fantasy Football and keeping Southampton competitive in the Premier League.

There was a slight drop over the following season, but the former-Liverpool man still managed to find the net 12 times before his move to Aston Villa in 2021.

Goalscorers are priceless for any Premier League side and Ings was Southampton’s golden ticket during his two years on the South Coast.

This was money extremely well spent.

1. Youri Tielemans (Leicester)

Nobody at Leicester will ever question Tielemans’ £40million acquisition – scoring the winner in the 2021 FA Cup final has cemented his legacy in the East Midlands.

One of the classiest midfielders in Europe, Tielemans is expected to leave Leicester at the end of the season, but what a player he has been for the Foxes over the years.

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