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The Worst World Cup Transfers: The Top Five

As the World Cup in Russia looms on the horizon, just 24 hours away from the first fixture, 90MAAT’s Ben Hooke takes a look at the worst post-World Cup transfers in the modern era.

  1. El Hadji Diouf

Liverpool signed Diouf just a day into the 2002 World Cup, so the red half of Merseyside was already watching their new signing with interest as he took the tournament by storm.

In the opening game, the 21-year-old ran, reigning champions, France ragged with his running and trickery, and set up Papa Bouba Diop’s winning goal, giving his new employers what turned out to be cruel false hope.

After impressing in the remaining group games and Les Lions de la Teranga’s knockout win over Sweden, Diouf was named in the Team of the Tournament. Once the World Cup in Japan and South Korea had finished, Diouf’s promise continued: a brace on his home debut for the Reds had Gerard Houllier expecting much from his Liverpool future.

It was not to be. He managed just six goals in 80 appearances for the Reds before his loan, and subsequent permanent, move to Bolton. He is now predominantly hated across Britain for repeatedly spitting at opponents, blatant diving and drink-driving among other offences (which have been handily put together by the Daily Telegraph). To make it worse, he’s detested back home too after failing to attend a disciplinary hearing in 2011 – as a result, he was banned from the national team for five years.

We always preferred Salif Diao anyway.

  1. Kleberson

If Diouf was bad, Manchester United’s attempt at a World Cup wonder-buy was bizarre. “One of the reasons we sold Seba(stien) Veron was because we knew we were getting Kleberson – that shows how highly we regard his talent,” said Sir Alex. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Kleberson didn’t play for Brazil in Japan/South Korea until they knocked out England in the Quarter Finals but started each game from then on, hitting the crossbar against Germany in the Final. Phil Scolari was impressed with his energy and tenacity in all three matches he played.

Immediately after the World Cup, Europe’s heavyweights were circling, but the midfielder rejected a move away from Brazil opting not to leave his girlfriend, who he was unable to marry until she turned 16.

Sir Alex eventually got his man, straight after the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo – whatever happened to him eh? – but Veron’s replacement got injured in his second game and only made 20 appearances in two seasons. He was shipped off to Besiktas in 2005.

  1. Javier Mascherano & Carlos Tevez

Unlike our previous two World Cup ‘starlets’, this duo went on from successful World Cups to have rather glittering careers afterwards – both players have won the Champions League, domestic titles and trophies, playing at the highest level of the game.

However, their immediate move from Sao Paolo to West Ham, following the tournament, was more than a little shady as it transpired that both players were owned by third parties – something still not allowed in the Premier League.

On the pitch, the pair had varying impacts: Mascherano struggled to get past Hayden Mullins in the Hammers’ starting XI whereas Tevez bagged 25 goals in his one and only season at Upton Park.

Crucially, the Argentinian scored the goal that kept the Irons up that campaign – away to Manchester United on the final day, leading Neil Warnock, manager of the consequently relegated Sheffield United, to say: “As far as I’m concerned I should still be a Premier League manager. And I think the players have a case, too.”

Warnock also sought personal damages and labelled the whole saga a disgrace.

  1. DeAndre Yedlin

This 20-year-old American prodigy’s only minutes at the World Cup in 2014 came as a substitute, but his lightning speed and dogmatic defending over three appearances in Brazil were enough to start the rumour mill churning.

Yedlin pocketed Eden Hazard in the USA’s valiant extra-time defeat to Belgium and was also an attacking threat for the USMNT – which saw a record-breaking number of saves from veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Tottenham brought the full-back to White Hart Lane for an undisclosed fee from Seattle Sounders but he made one appearance – a 1-0 home loss to Aston Villa.

  1. Milan Jovanovic

According to Jovanovic’s Wikipedia page, he was mentioned in an October 2011 episode of Neighbours, where he was described as ‘one of the greatest (footballers) in the world.”

He probably felt like it when, he scored the only goal in his nation Serbia’s, 1-0 win against Germany; however, after he was bought on a free by Liverpool he struggled to impress. He endured a torrid year on Merseyside which suggested that Neighbours favourite, Andrew Robinson, was probably a little off in his verdict.

Written by Ben Hooke.

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