10 players Super League clubs have wasted money on while complaining about financial trouble

Ross Jackson
Apr 20, 2021, 2:30 PM GMT+1
Gareth Bale has spent a lot of time on the Real Madrid bench despite his bumper salary
Gareth Bale has spent a lot of time on the Real Madrid bench despite his bumper salary | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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Where do you even begin with this one?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the formation of the Super League - and ultimately the betrayal of millions of fans who've grown up with their club at the heart of the community - has been brought about following years of financial mismanagement.

While every one of the clubs to have signalled their intention to participate in the abhorrent competition have made countless mega-money mistakes in recent years, some stick out more than others.

With that in mind, 90min has provided you with a rundown of the worst financial c*ck-ups by Europe's so-called elite clubs who will take part in the Super League. Prepare to laugh and curl your toes...

10. Kepa Arrizabalaga

Kepa Arrizabalaga is undoubtedly one of the Premier league's worst ever purchases
Kepa Arrizabalaga is undoubtedly one of the Premier league's worst ever purchases | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea are no strangers to shelling out eye-watering sums of money on players who don't exactly live up to expectations, though their 2018 capture of Kepa Arrizabalaga takes the biscuit.

When you think of some of the brilliant goalkeepers in European football right now and yet Kepa is the most expensive of the lot, you get a taste for just how awful a piece of business this was.

The Spaniard's time at Stamford Bridge has been littered with individual errors and it remains to be seen whether they'll ever manage to recoup any of the world-record £72m they paid Athletic Club for his services.

9. Manchester United's army of goalkeepers

Dean Henderson and David de Gea
Dean Henderson and David de Gea | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Who'd have thought that paying over half a million pounds a week in goalkeepers' wages would leave you desperately searching for additional revenue?

Giving out huge contracts to players is always a gamble - as we'll discuss a little further down this list - but Manchester United's decision to hand David de Gea a £375,000-a-week deal has massively backfired.

The emergence of Dean Henderson has seen the Spain international drop down the pecking order at Old Trafford, and to make matters worse they've had to offer Henderson a £100,000-a-week deal to keep him at the club.

Add in the wages of Sergio Romero and the rest of the shot-stoppers United seem to be stockpiling and their weekly wage bill for goalkeepers alone goes through the roof.

8. Diego Costa

Diego Costa's return to Atleti did not go to plan
Diego Costa's return to Atleti did not go to plan | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Given the success they'd enjoyed together previously, it's little wonder Atletico Madrid took the opportunity to re-sign Diego Costa from Chelsea after his time at Stamford Bridge turned sour - but £57m!

The tempestuous frontman reunited with Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital at the beginning of 2018 for a ludicrous sum of money, and to make matters worse his time at the club was littered with injury problems.

He departed the Wanda Metropolitano late last year - leaving with a record of 12 goals in 61 La Liga outings - after Atleti agreed to terminate his €8m-a-year contract.

7. Paul Pogba

Pogback indeed.

We're not going start claiming he's not a very good player - because he clearly is - but as you'll notice further down this list there are a lot of good players who've been managed terribly by their respective clubs.

Having left Manchester United for free in 2012, the Red Devils realised the error of their ways and brought him back to Old Trafford for a fee believed to be in the region of £89m!

Spending £89m on a player as talented as Paul Pogba is fair enough (kinda), but spending that amount of money on a player who you helped develop and already had at the club before letting him go is just absurd...

6. Philippe Coutinho

We'd be here all day if we listed every shocking financial mistake Barcelona have made over the last decade or so, but for now we'll just pick out the highlights - if you can call them highlights.

Philippe Coutinho secured his dream move to Camp Nou back in 2018 with the Catalan outfit shelling out £142m.

The fact he's not exactly flourished in Barcelona is already a good enough reason to be on this list, but helping knock them out of last season's Champions League just makes it even more ridiculous.

The Brazilian was loaned out to Bayern Munich for the 2019/20 campaign after failing to cement his place in the Barça starting XI, and he came back to haunt them as he grabbed the last two goals in the Bundesliga side's 8-2 demolition of his parent club.

5. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale has had plenty of time to practice his golf swing in recent years
Gareth Bale has had plenty of time to practice his golf swing in recent years | Stu Forster/Getty Images

Real Madrid's £85m purchase of Gareth Bale from Tottenham in 2013 looked like a decent bit of business given the silverware the club picked up following his arrival, but it soon went downhill.

The Welshman earns a figure believed to be in excess of £600,000-a-week at Los Blancos, meaning shipping him out of the club has proved to be quite tricky.

Bale spent much of the 2019/20 season either sat on the bench or playing golf, and Real eventually had to settle for Tottenham paying a portion of his wages as part of a loan move back to north London.

But he'll be back next season. The nightmare marriage continues.

4. Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard hasn't seen much playing time since joining Real
Eden Hazard hasn't seen much playing time since joining Real | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Paying £143m for a player is already extortionate, but £143m for one season is just mind boggling.

Eden Hazard's deal with Chelsea was expiring in 2020 and so Madrid just had to wait it out for a year before snapping up the talented Belgian on a free transfer... they didn't.

Instead they decided to spend £143m to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019, and thank goodness they did! Without his one goal in 16 La Liga appearances there's not a chance they'd have secured that La Liga crown.

Unbelievable.

3. Mesut Ozil

The picture of Mesut Ozil holding an umbrella will live long in the memory of Arsenal fans
The picture of Mesut Ozil holding an umbrella will live long in the memory of Arsenal fans | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

That picture of Mesut Ozil holding an umbrella over his head at St. Mary's will never be forgotten.

In Arsene Wenger's final year as Arsenal boss, he handed the Germany international a whopping £350,000-a-week deal and the move haunted them for years afterwards.

Unable to get a game during the tenures of Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, Ozil's huge contract shackled the club for years until they finally cut ties in January 2021.

One of the maddest decisions ever made by a Premier League football club.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

It wouldn't be a list of mega-money players without this man in it.

The theory behind Juventus' plan sounded pretty good in fairness to them. Having failed to secure Champions League glory since their triumph all the way back in 1996, who else better to spearhead their European title charge than Mr Champions League himself?

It's not really worked out.

The Old Lady spent a whopping £105m on 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2018 and so far the best they've mustered is a quarter-final exit from Europe's premier competition.

This season's round of 16 defeat to Porto was possibly the worst of the lot and Juve are stuck trying to shoehorn a player with an eye-watering wage bill into their squad - but still no Champions League trophy.

1. Lionel Messi

Barcelona's financial woes aren't helped by Lionel Messi's bumper contract
Barcelona's financial woes aren't helped by Lionel Messi's bumper contract | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

In the never ending battle between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi it's the little Argentine magician who wins this one.

We know you're wondering how we can possibly label arguably the greatest player in the world a financial mistake, but as we alluded to with Pogba earlier, just because someone is a brilliant footballer doesn't mean you should absolutely break the bank to secure their services.

Messi's reported annual salary of £109m has had a huge part in pretty much bankrupting Barcelona, and the club's handling of him undoubtedly goes down as the worst financial mistake made by any of the sides looking to join the Super League.

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