5 Players who were damaged goods on arrival

With Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger coming under fire from all sides for signing Kim Kallstrom on loan despite the Swede being sidelined for six weeks with a back injury, the Arsenal boss must hope that he’s kept the receipt for the midfielder.

Capped 108 times by Sweden and having played in the Champions League for Lyon and Spartak Moscow, there is little doubt that Kallstrom possesses some fine qualities, but none of them are of any use to the Gunners as he lies on the treatment table until mid-March.

Arsenal face a harrowing fixture list over the next two months, as they play Liverpool twice, Manchester United, Bayern Munich twice, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City, but as Kallstrom sits on the sidelines for the majority of those games, we take a look at five other players who arrived at new clubs as damaged goods.

5. Antonio Nunez, Real Madrid to Liverpool 2004  

Already upset to be losing key forward Michael Owen to Real Madrid in the summer of 2004, Liverpool fans then saw winger Antonio Nunez – who had arrived from the Spanish capital as part of an exchange deal – injure knee ligaments in his first ever training session in England, ruling him out for four months.

When he was fit he was hardly a stellar performer, although he did become a staple of several trivia quizzes when he scored his only goal for the club in a cup final – the 2005 League Cup final loss to Chelsea – and regularly featured in the team that made their way towards the improbable Champions League final win in Istanbul, where he was an unused substitute.

4. Per Kroldrup, Udinese to Everton 2005

Seeking to build on Everton’s fourth place finish the previous season, manager David Moyes turned to Danish international centre-back Per Kroldrup to shore up his defence in the summer of 2005, signing the then 26-year-old for £5million.

Before making an appearance for the Blues, Kroldrup injured his groin in training and was promptly ruled out for the next four months as he underwent surgery.

His debut in English football turned out to be his first and last Premier League game for Everton, and he was shipped back to Italy less than a month after a not-so starring role in a 4-0 loss at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

3. Owen Hargreaves, Unattached to Manchester City 2011

His YouTube videos had the desired effect, but ultimately when it came to actually playing football, Owen Hargreaves couldn’t quite cut it anymore.

After perennial injury problems, the 42-times capped England international released videos of himself in fitness training upon being released by Manchester United in the summer of 2011, and that was seemingly enough for Manchester City to offer him a contract following the retirement of Patrick Vieira.

It started well for Hargreaves as he scored on his debut in the League Cup against Birmingham, but he would play just three more times for City as those fitness problems flared up again, ultimately leading to his retirement from the game a year after his move to the Etihad Stadium.

At least the videos were alright though.

2. Alberto Aquilani, Roma to Liverpool 2009

After losing Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, Liverpool moved to fill their midfield hole with a player who was still recovering from ankle surgery.

Alberto Aquilani arrived from Roma for a huge fee of around £20m, with manager Rafael Benitez dismissing concerns over his fitness by claiming he’d “signed him for five years, not five months.” How wrong he’d prove to be.

An injury-hit first campaign at Anfield saw Aquilani play 26 times in all competitions, and although he was clearly a gifted performer he simply couldn't keep up with the pace of the game and was also affected by his troublesome ankle.

Liverpool finished the season in seventh, Benitez was sacked and new boss Roy Hodgson farmed Aquilani out on loan to Juventus the following season. Another loan move to AC Milan followed, before a permanent switch to Fiorentina in 2012.

1. Jonathan Woodgate, Newcastle to Real Madrid 2004


Presumably no-one at Real Madrid opted to check Jonathan Woodgate’s MOT before they paid £13.4m for him in the summer of 2004.

Having already suffered injury problems at former clubs Leeds and Newcastle, Woodgate went the entirety of the 2004/05 season without pulling on the famous white shirt, and then when he did for the very first time in a league match against Athletic Bilbao in September 2005, he managed the quite impressive feat of both scoring an own goal and getting himself sent off.

Things improved somewhat with a goal against Rosenborg in the Champions League, but after just 14 appearances for Real he moved back to England with Middlesbrough in 2006.

A year later in 2007, a poll conducted in Spanish newspaper Marca led to him being dubbed “the worst La Liga signing of the 21st century.”

Seven years on, no-one has come close to taking his crown just yet.


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