Premier League biggest transfers: Where does Mykhailo Mudryk rank in list of huge fees and major flops?
Chelsea fans welcomed their latest big-money signing at the weekend when Mykhailo Mudryk was paraded at Stamford Bridge at halftime during the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Ukraine winger Mudryk is a scintillating, exciting talent and is the latest lavish purchase of the Todd Boehly era after Chelsea gazumped Premier League leaders Arsenal to sign Shakhtar Donetsk’s prized asset on an eight-and-a-half-year contract.
That gives the 22-year-old plenty of time to prove his worth — something that might not be as straightforward as you would expect.
Over recent years, the biggest transfer outlays in the richest league have rarely worked out exactly how all parties might have hoped, as the list below shows.
1. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Man City, 2021): £100m
Grealish headed the opening goal in City’s 2-1 Manchester derby defeat at Old Trafford, taking him to four goal involvements in the past three Premier League away games despite a tricky spell for Pep Guardiola’s side. The England international could do with this being the start of a purple patch, given he has only scored five top-flight goals in 18 months with the reigning champions.
The particular tactical requirements given to Grealish at City act in mitigation, to an extent, but his only three Premier League assists this term have come in the past month. The United game was the latest in a succession of high-profile games where the former Aston Villa hero has found himself among the substitutes. That alone is a situation that has to change if he is to prove to be value for a considerable sum of money.
Jack Grealish scores off the bench to give Man City a derby lead! ⚽
What a time to bag his second of the season! 🎯 pic.twitter.com/xScG02EcK2
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 14, 2023
— CBS Sports Golazo :football2:️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 14, 2023
2. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea, 2021): £97.5m
Fresh from their surprise run to Champions League glory under Thomas Tuchel, Lukaku was supposed to be the final piece in the puzzle for Chelsea. As it happened, his arrival simply picked the puzzle up, shook the box around vigorously and chucked it out of the window.
After firing Inter to Serie A glory, Lukaku could only manage eight Premier League goals in 26 games and never appeared to be an easy fit for Tuchel’s system, given Chelsea had found success with a mobile and interchangeable front three in the first half of 2021. A year after his signing, Lukaku was back at Inter and Tuchel was about to be sacked.
3. Paul Pogba (Juventus to Man United, 2016): £93.25m
The transfer that was supposed to herald a return of the glory days to Manchester United eventually came to symbolise their decline in the post-Alex Ferguson years. Pogba arrived in the same summer Jose Mourinho took the reins and that dream team would prove to be a toxic marriage.
It should be noted that when United played their best football during recent seasons, Pogba was often essential, most notably when they finished second in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2020/21. However, none of Mourinho, Solskjaer or Ralf Rangnick could find a way to consistently prompt his best form and Pogba’s woes generally coincided with long collective slumps and embarrassing defeats. After six largely unhappy years, he joined Juventus on a free transfer from United for the second time in his career.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) August 19, 2016
4. Romelu Lukaku (Everton to Man United, 2017) £90m
Lukaku’s second appearance on this list isn’t much more pleasant. Everton received an initial £75m, with £15m more in add-ons and an ageing Wayne Rooney thrown in the bargain.
Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were the stars as United won the EFL Cup and Europa League while finishing sixth in the league in Mourinho’s first season. It was hoped Lukaku would elevate them into the title picture but their eventual second-placed finish was 19 points behind Manchester City’s record haul of 100. Mourinho’s demise midway through the following campaign brought Solskjaer to the club and a master finisher from his playing days decided Lukaku did not figure in his plans. A return of 28 goals in 55 Premier League appearances was not appalling but few mourned his departure.
5. Kai Havertz (Bayern Leverkusen to Chelsea, 2020): £90m
Any list like this nowadays delves into the vagaries of up-front fees, instalments and add-ons. Chelsea agreed an initial fee of £72m for Havertz, with two further chunks of £9m depending on appearances and honours won. The Germany international accounted for a decent chunk of those additional payments when he scored the only goal in the 2021 Champions League final against Manchester City.
It speaks of a curious Chelsea career so far that such an act, which prompted further silverware in the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, has not made Havertz a Stamford Bridge hero. By default, he has played the majority of his football at centre-forward for a team lacking strikers, which still does not feel like a natural fit. The formidable, free-scoring attacking midfielder of Havertz’s Leverkusen days has only been seen fleetingly.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 8, 2021
6. Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar to Chelsea, 2023): £88.5m
Some of the transfers on the list represent presumed sure things that proved to be nothing of the sort; the lack of any apparent guarantees in Mudryk’s transfer is one of the factors that makes it so intriguing.
He scored seven goals in 12 Ukrainian Premier League games this term and three in six Champions League group outings underlined his abundant talent. But he leaves Shakhtar making a club he appeared fewer than 50 times for an awful lot richer. Mudryk does not have a foundation of senior experience to fall back on as he tries to make his way at a club in flux that already has a frankly ludicrous number of wide attacking options.
7. Antony (Ajax to Man United, 2022): £86m
Insofar as there’s any discernible plan in Chelsea’s transfer business at the moment, Mudryk represents an investment in the future. The same can be said for Brazil international Antony, who cost United a little over £1m for each of his 82 Ajax appearances.
A report by ESPN recently claimed United acknowledge they overpaid for a player Erik ten Hag knows well and can mould into a superstar over time. Antony has scored a few spectacular goals during his brief time at United, albeit while looking incredibly one-footed. He was dropped to the bench for the 2-1 derby win over Manchester City but came on for Anthony Martial at halftime.
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) September 4, 2022
— CBS Sports Golazo :football2:️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 4, 2022
8. Darwin Nunez (Benfica to Liverpool, 2022): £85m
Another player who fits into the Antony and Mudryk trend of paying for potential on the back of a fairly small sample size of impressive performances. Nunez excelled for Benfica in 2021/22, plundering 26 Primeira Liga goals over the course of just 24 starts and adding a further six in the Champions League. That form persuaded Liverpool to put down an initial £64m for his services, with £21m more due in performance-related add-ons, £4.3m of which was triggered after just 10 appearances.
Nunez’s dead-eyed finishing has deserted him at Anfield, sometimes in an utterly remarkable fashion. However, the 23-year-old’s raw potential is there for all to see and his all-round displays can be viewed as one of the relative positives of a dismal Liverpool season so far.
9. Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Man United, 2019) £80m
Six months after joining United, who upped their offer to secure Maguire amid competition from Manchester City, the England defender was named club captain. It marked an impressive start to life under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but the decline was stark and it is one, at club level at least, that Maguire is yet to emerge from.
Clanging mistakes from the hulking centre-back were a feature as United tanked in the late months of 2021 and Solskjaer lost his job. He remained a go-to for England boss Gareth Southgate but after an impressive 2022 World Cup he has returned to bench duty at United, with Luke Shaw preferred to him at centre-back.
Last night hurt. Absolutely gutted. Special thanks to Gareth and you amazing fans who kept belief in me. I love my country and I hope we made you proud. 🏴🦁 pic.twitter.com/8qd4rJcaIm
— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) December 11, 2022
10. Wesley Fofana (Leicester City to Chelsea, 2022): £80m
Probably the hardest man on the list to judge given his lack of action since Leicester held firm to their Maguire benchmark and drew another astronomical fee out of Chelsea.
The Blues have won both Premier League games in which Fofana played, 2-1 against West Ham and Crystal Palace respectively. In between those games, Fofana’s Champions League debut ended in a 1-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb that saw Thomas Tuchel sacked. The centre-back scored in a 3-0 win over AC Milan before being sidelined with a knee injury and now faces the challenge of establishing himself in a packed Chelsea squad.
11. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, 2018): £75m
Many baulked at the fee Liverpool paid Southampton for Van Dijk midway through the 2017/18 season but he has proved a truly transformative presence. Along with goalkeeper Alisson, who arrived the following summer, the Netherlands centre-back turned Liverpool from a thrilling but vulnerable side under Jurgen Klopp into an awesome winning machine.
The Reds ended their 30-year wait for a 19th league title in 2019/20 and ran Manchester City devilishly close with points totals in excess of 90 in 2018/19 and 2021/22. In the former season, they won the Champions League and suffered heartbreak against Real Madrid in the 2018 and 2022 finals. Few of those memorable deeds would have been possible without Van Dijk, the only unequivocal success on this list.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! Not only for yesterday but for the support the whole season, I love you Reds ❤️ pic.twitter.com/K0OXGHVCHe
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) May 30, 2022
12. Jadon Sancho (Dortmund to Man United, 2021): £73m
Having left Manchester City without making a senior appearance to flourish at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho returned to the other side of Manchester amid much fanfare, but he was subsumed by a dire collapse at United in the 2021/22 season.
The third most expensive English player of all time could not secure a place in the Three Lions’ World Cup squad despite some impressive signs during the early stages of Erik ten Hag’s reign. Sancho has not played since Qatar 2022 on account of struggling “physically and mentally” and it is hoped an obviously gifted performer can rebuild within Ten Hag’s resurgent Red Devils.