There’s a growing band of football supporters who are “against modern football”, and it’s easy to see why people are becoming alienated from our beautiful game.

While football continues to be gripping at the very highest level, there are several ugly elements when it comes to the Premier League and other top divisions across Europe. It’s particularly the case with players who are simply happy to pick up the money wherever they go.

Most modern-day players have agents, with the latter often in charge of their client’s destination, and it largely comes down to how big a contract can be commanded.

There are still notable examples of players, such as Mark Noble, Steven Gerrard and Matt Le Tissier, who remain with one club throughout their career despite the potential to earn more elsewhere, while even legendary Premier League football players such as Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry and Gianfranco Zola had a deep love of the club they represented.

However, it’s increasingly the case that players are commanding large sums of cash and a burgeoning car collection simply by occasionally gracing the pitch with their presence.



Take SHAUN WRIGHT-PHILLIPS, for example. Between 2004 and 2010, the diminutive winger turned out 36 times for the England team and scored six goals.

However, the 34-year-old never really lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he left Manchester City in 2005 with the world seemingly at his feet.

Between 2005 and 2008, the adopted son of Ian Wright made just 81 appearances for Chelsea, and the London club cannot have considered this a justified spend of £21 million when you consider the wages that must also have been involved.

A return to Manchester City didn’t see SWP’s game-time increase, and he managed just 65 appearances over the next four seasons. There were a similar number of outings for QPR, and Wright-Phillips came to represent all that was bad about over-spending at Loftus Road. He’s now earning more mega bucks at New York Red Bulls.


Not that Chelsea have enjoyed a particularly successful transfer record since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club. The Russian is clearly immune to sensible spending, and that was certainly the case when drafting his chum ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO into the squad.

In 2006, Abramovich spent a staggering £30.8 million on Shevchenko, hoping that the AC Milan striker would light up Stamford Bridge and demonstrate that he was still one of the hottest strikers in Europe.

To say that Milan were laughing all the way to the bank is an understatement. The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner had seemingly been bought against the wishes of manager José Mourinho, and the Portuguese regularly deemed him surplus to requirements compared to the other strikers at his disposal.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, though it is clear now that Shevchenko was past his sell-by date when he arrived at Stamford Bridge, and the Ukrainian was happy to pick up some rather large pay cheques while enjoying life in west London.



Another striker enjoying massive wages for part-time work is EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR, a player for whom loyalty is a taboo word.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Togolese striker is still only 32, yet he has generated enough sign-on bonuses to last him several lifetimes. After spells with Metz and Monaco, Arsène Wenger took a punt on the forward for the modest sum of £3 million.

Adebayor was a big hit for the Gunners and looked set to take on the mantle of Thierry Henry at the Emirates Stadium, though this was before a newly wealthy Manchester City came calling. 

In 2009, City had recently been bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group, and their transfer policy was largely “buy on sight” like a greedy striker trying to score as many goals as possible.

With Adebayor angling for a move to City, Arsenal were powerless to prevent the rangy forward leaving, though £25 million in the bank was a coup considering that the striker’s career effectively took a nosedive since leaving the north London club.

Incredibly, Adebayor made just 34 appearances for his £25 million, and his astronomical wages meant that City didn’t want him sitting in the stands and checking his ever-expanding bank balance.

There was a brief loan spell at Real Madrid and then something more meaningful at White Hart Lane to the extent that Tottenham were happy to sign him permanently for a fee of £5 million.

However, Adebayor simply “tries when he wants”, and it was only manager Tim Sherwood who had any joy from a player who should be applauded for continuing to earn big bucks whether he’s been seen on the pitch or merely posting on social media with his latest dance moves.


Another former Arsenal striker would have loved to have been a success at the north London club, though FRANCIS JEFFERS didn’t turn out to be the “fox in the box” described by Wenger after the London club stumped up £8 million to take the striker from Everton.

In fairness to Jeffers, it wasn’t as though he was content to collect his wages sitting on the bench, though the Scouser managed just 22 appearances for the Gunners between 2001 and 2004, scoring just the four goals.

He still made a fair packet despite being a complete flop at Arsenal, with the forward heading back to Everton on loan before a series of different clubs, though the striker never realised anything like the potential that seemed to be in evidence at Goodison Park.

At least Jeffers tried to make things work at Arsenal, and it was just a lack of ability that ultimately found him out.



One of the biggest Premier League mercenaries of all time has to be WINSTON BOGARDE, who will look back fondly on his time at Chelsea for all the wrong reasons.

The Dutchman signed for the Blues in 2000, arriving against the wishes of then-manager Gianluca Vialli, while his replacement, Claudio Ranieri, wasn’t a big fan of the defender who had previously represented Ajax, Milan (very briefly) and Barcelona.

Incredibly, Bogarde spent four years as a Chelsea player but only made a sum total of 11 appearances. He was reportedly earning £40,000 per week during his time at Stamford Bridge, and he wasn’t shy in admitting that he was happy to collect his cash every month despite doing the square root of nothing in the process.

Of his contract, he said: "Why should I throw 15 million euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract."

That statement is all you need to know about the way in which football players can command a ransom without having to work for their money. When Bogarde was asked why he didn’t agitate for a move away from Chelsea, the player simply responded: “This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don't care.”


Another ex-Chelsea player with a licence to print money was JOSE BOSINGWA, although the Portuguese full-back’s victim was actually QPR down the road. After a relatively successful stint at Stamford Bridge, Bosingwa signed a three-year deal with Rangers which saw him paid £80,000 per week for his services.

However, this acquisition was nothing short of a disaster, with Bosingwa actually refusing to sit on the bench for a league game against Fulham in December. Despite being fined two weeks’ wages, the defender was unrepentant and his attitude continued to stink as QPR sank towards the Championship. 



MARIO BALOTELLI also falls into this category, with the Italian forward still on the books at Liverpool after Brendan Rodgers foolishly decided to take a punt on a player who had previously been a rotten apple at Internazionale and Manchester City.

There is no denying that the Italian is hugely talented, as he demonstrated when scoring 20 goals in 59 appearances for Inter, while his time at City was not without success. His goal in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford and the “Why Always Me?” T-shirt will go down as one of the Premier League’s most iconic moments.

Liverpool spent £16 million on acquiring his services and, to date, the forward has made 16 appearances and scored just one goal for the Merseyside club. Last season was spent back on loan at Milan, where Balotelli’s goal rate dropped massively, and it’s hard to see how the 25-year-old is going to return to the sort of form that has seen him represent Italy on 33 occasions and play a key role in the Azzurri’s Euro 2012 run to the final.

When at Inter, José Mourinho described the player as “unmanageable”, though it hasn’t stopped other managers from trying to tame this precocious talent. In January 2013, Balotelli’s net worth was reported to be $40 million, and that has probably doubled over the past three years.


An honourable mention should go to CHARLES N’ZOGBIA, with the Frenchman having actually represented his country on two occasions, though he’s a million miles away from being in Les Bleus squad for Euro 2016.

The 30-year-old was bought by Aston Villa in 2011 for a reported sum of £9.5 million, with supporters optimistic that the winger would help the Midlands club achieve new heights.

Instead, N’Zogbia will be regarded as potentially the worst buy the club has ever made, with the player rejecting a loan move to AEK Athens in January 2016 to ensure that he earned an additional £1.2 million for doing diddly squat.

Despite players such as N’Zogbia and Bogarde being made to train with the Under-21s, it sometimes doesn’t have the desired effect of getting them off the books, and the former has been collecting £63,000 per week since putting pen to paper.


Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest manager in Premier League history, though the Scot wasn’t immune to making bad signings, and JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON was quite simply a massive waste of money.


Another of his compatriots far from keen on England appears to be ANGEL DI MARIA, who endured an ill-fated one-year spell at Manchester United during the 2014-15 season.

Di María arrived to a pretty big fanfare, considering he has been a first-team regular in the Argentina team and he was also a key player for Real Madrid before the arrival of James Rodríguez edged him out of the club.

The British transfer record was smashed by the Red Devils in the summer of 2014 as they stumped up £59.7 million to lure the winger to Old Trafford, with this being the fifth most expensive football signing of all time.

Things started well for Di María, and he was voted Player of the Month for September, though things took a turn for the worse during the autumn months, and it wasn’t helped by a hamstring injury.

Nevertheless, Di María clashed with Louis van Gaal in the New Year when he was deployed as a forward, with the player angling for a move away from Old Trafford for the remainder of the season, and he effectively called time on his United career when failing to board a plane for the US that summer. A move to PSG followed shortly afterwards.

With Euro 2016 this summer, there will be plenty of players putting themselves in the shop window for a potential purchase, with clubs likely to be parting with eye-watering sums of cash. However, we all know that for every top signing, there will be players who are set to flop in the Premier League and elsewhere this season.

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