Khamis, 14 Jun 2012

Top Ten Premier League Flops At Euro 2012

There are plenty of talented players at Euro 2012, but there also quite a few who have been an embarrassment in the Premier League. Matt Stanger picks the top ten...

10. Milan Baros

Baros wasn't a complete flop during his time in England, but his spells at three different clubs were rather hit and miss. As a youngster at Liverpool, the Czech striker was considered a bright prospect, breaking into the first team and notching 19 goals in 68 appearances, many of which came as a sub.

However, a £6.5million move to Aston Villa failed to yield further success, and after two years and only nine league goals Baros was packed off to Lyon. He returned for a brief spell on loan at Portsmouth a year later but failed to score in any of his 12 matches. A move to Galatasaray has resulted in the most productive period of the striker's career, but his Premier League failure won't be forgotten in a hurry.

9. Andrey Arshavin

Whether Roman Pavlyuchenko and Yuri Zhirkov succeeded in England is open to debate, but both players managed to avoid a place on this list thanks to their Russia teammate. After watching Arshavin's man-of-the-match performance against Czech Republic in Russia's first game at the Euros, there's no doubting that the playmaker still has the talent to be a hit in the Premier League.

However, three-and-a-half years at Arsenal have failed to yield the sort of performances Arshavin produces for the national team, and frustrations boiled over last season when the 31-year-old was jeered shortly before moving to Zenit St. Petersburg on loan. Arshavin was Russia's best player when they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008 and the captain looks set to inspire the team to another impressive tournament in Poland and Ukraine. It's likely that a permanent move to Zenit will materialise in the summer, leaving Arsenal fans irked that they never saw the best of Arshavin at the Emirates.

8. Khalid Boulahrouz

Boulahrouz was snapped up by Chelsea in an £8.5million deal in 2006, with Jose Mourinho highlighting the defender's versatility as a key quality. After an encouraging start at Stamford Bridge, the former Hamburg centre-back suffered a setback with shoulder and knee injuries. Upon his return to fitness, Boulahrouz failed to fight his way back into first-team contention and his stock had fallen so low that he was sent out on loan to Sevilla in his second season, where he made only six appearances.

However, the following summer the defender was a key part of the Dutch squad at Euro 2008 and played in all four of the team's matches. Despite Bert Van Marwijk replacing Marco Van Basten as the national team coach, Boulahrouz retained his place in the Holland squad, featuring at the 2010 World Cup and travelling to Poland and Ukraine this month.

7. Hugo Viana

Viana is enjoying the best spell of his career at Braga, helping the club finish third in the Portuguese league this season and reaching the Europa League final in 2011. His form has seen him included in the Portugal squad for the Euros, but it has been a long road to the top for the 29-year-old after three seasons at Newcastle in the early '00s.

Sir Bobby Robson spent £8.5million to secure Viana's signature from Sporting Lisbon in 2002 and at the time it seemed like a good deal for one of the hottest prospects in Europe. The midfielder failed to adjust to the pace of the Premier League, though, and perhaps daunted by such a big move so early in his career, his form was rather erratic. After returning to Sporting on loan, Viana signed a permanent deal with Valencia, who paid £7million less than Newcastle's original outlay.

6. Andriy Voronin

Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, the signing of Voronin can't be blamed on Roy Hodgson. Rafa Benitez signed the forward on a free transfer in 2007 and claimed the deal to be quite a coup. However, that the golden-haired striker has only managed eight goals in 73 matches for Ukraine will come as no surprise to Reds fans, who saw the 32-year-old muster just six strikes during his three-year contract.

Voronin had previously enjoyed a successful spell in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, but the move to Anfield didn't work out for either party. He was farmed out on loan back to the Bundesliga for a year and eventually left for Dynamo Moscow on a permanent basis.

5. Andriy Shevchenko

I wrote here that England will have to be careful of being sucker-punched by Shevchenko's fairy-tale yarn in Group D and the 35-year-old striker has already started weaving his magic with two goals against Sweden. The joy in Sheva's celebration of securing a vital opening win for Ukraine was a far cry from his days at Chelsea, which were characterised by frustration and unexpected failure.

When Shevchenko joined the Blues for £30million in 2006, he became the most expensive player ever to be signed by an English club. The deal didn't go to plan, though, with Jose Mourinho preferring to stick with Didier Drogba as the team's leading centre-forward. Shevchenko scored sporadically throughout his first season but played only 25 matches in his second year at Stamford Bridge.

 The experience clearly knocked him as a loan spell back to AC Milan brought only two goals in 26 games. Shevchenko eventually returned to Dynamo Kiev and has stated that if it were not for the Euros he probably would have retired. Thankfully for Ukraine, he realised his dream and rolled back the years against Sweden.

4. Helder Postiga

It seems as though Portugal have only had about three strikers since Eusebio, with Postiga leading the line for his country in Poland and Ukraine. An international record of 19 goals in 50 matches looks rather impressive, but Tottenham fans will long remember Postiga as a scrawny youngster who scored just two goals for the club following a £6million move from Porto in 2003.

Along with Kevin-Prince Boateng and Giovani dos Santos, the Portugal forward is one of several players whose early promise suddenly plummeted following a move to White Hart Lane. He was completely out of his depth in the Premier League and after a hasty departure, Postiga has meandered around Europe with mixed success.

3. Georgios Samaras

Man City signed Samaras from Heerenveen in the same month the Dutch club sold Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to Ajax, and it's clear who secured the better deal. While Ajax had picked up a young striker with lethal finishing ability, City splurged £6million on a footballer whose only redeeming quality was his fine beard. Stuart Pearce signed Samaras to improve the club's form in front of goal and it's safe to say the Greek forward failed in that objective. In his first full season at the club (2006/07), City scored only 29 goals in the Premier League.

 They also scored just 10 goals at home - a record low in the top division - and failed to muster a single strike at Eastlands after New Year's Day. In total, Samaras notched eight goals in 55 league matches for City before leaving for Celtic. His finishing in the opening game of the Euros against Poland showed that he still hasn't learnt how to put the ball in the back of the net.

2. Christian Poulsen

Those who think not selecting Rio Ferdinand for England is Roy Hodgson's biggest mistake have clearly forgotten the transfer of Christian Poulsen to Liverpool in 2010. In quite a sudden curbing of expectations after his appointment, Hodgson set about signing a range of mediocre players at Anfield, with Poulsen singled out for a series of below-par performances.

At £4.5million he cost more than Yohan Cabaye and proved a considerable flop, making just 12 Premier League appearances. A year later the former Denmark captain was transferred to Ligue 1 club Evian for an undisclosed fee, although he still outlasted Hodgson at Anfield. The 32-year-old remains a part of Denmark's plans and was on the bench for the victory against Holland. Perhaps that's the best place for him.

1. Kostas Chalkias

Chalkias is the oldest player at Euro 2012 and arguably also the worst. The 38-year-old should be nicknamed Icarus considering all the flapping he does, and his talent for spectacularly poor decision-making was on show in the opening game. Portsmouth fans who had repressed the memories of Chalkias' spell at Fratton Park will no doubt have suffered painful flashbacks as the goalkeeper attempted to reach a cross that was far beyond his grasp for Robert Lewandowski's early goal. It was the sort of error that saw Chalkias make only five appearances for Pompey in 2005 and after losing his place to Jamie Ashdown, he soon left for Real Murcia in Spain, where they also quickly realised his awfulness.


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