Chelsea's Pizarro, Liverpool's Josemi, Manchester City's Robinho, Leeds Roque Jr & More: The PL Xl That Failed To Cut The Mustard...
Every club has one. A player who you know has pedigree or potential but never lives up to the billing promised to them.
It can either be down to an incapability to perform in the English game, or maybe their chance of becoming a cult hero was snatched away from them by injury or a manager not getting the best out of them.
This eleven aren’t necessarily bad players, they just couldn’t quite cut the mustard.
Goalkeeper: Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City)
After impressing at the 2006 World Cup for Sweden, where he still currently holds the number one jersey, he came to England in a £2 million deal that saw him set to overtake David James as the top dog at Eastlands.
Injuries delayed his debut and constantly competed with Nicky Weaver for the starting berth. After impressing in his appearances in his few appearances of the 06/07 season, he again got injured and was found to be second fiddle.
Eventually ousted by Joe Hart and conceded eight in his last game for the club. He was sold onto PSV and is now plying his trade for Turkish Premier League club Kasimpasa.
Right Back: Josemi (Liverpool)
Benitez’s first signing as Liverpool manager in 2004, Josemi was the first of a Spanish influx that embarked upon Anfield. He came up through the ranks at Malaga and quickly was under the radar of some top European clubs after impressing in the Intertoto cup.
His initial promising run in the side was halted after he got sent off midway through the season and replaced by Steve Finnan. The form of the Irishman meant Josemi spent little time on the pitch until he left to go back to Spain in 2006.
He can now be found strutting his stuff for Greek minnows Levadiakos.
Left Back: Reto Ziegler (Tottenham and Wigan)
Signed by the ill-fated managerial spell of Jacques Santini, the versatile left sided Ziegler made an excellent start to his career at Tottenham, being utilised mainly by Martin Jol.
He scored his first professional goal for the club in his first year at the club yet was sent off on loan the following season to Hamburg. Had other loan spells before being finally shipped off for good by Juande Ramos.
Had a very successful spell at Sampdoria which attracted the attention of Juventus where he now plays out on loan for Fenerbache.
Centre Back: Khalid Boulahrouz (Chelsea)
Knows as ‘The Cannibal’ because of his ability to eat up the opposition (apparently), Boulahrouz’s ill fated spell at Chelsea only saw him make a handful of appearances over two years at the club.
Handed the number nine shirt after the departure of Crespo, Boulahrouz was put into test in every position across the line of defence yet was unable to cement any of them for himself. Despite impressive performances in the league and Champions League where he was able to keep Ronaldinho quiet, he was eventually sold onto VFB Stuttgart after a loan spell at Sevilla.
He’s now playing in Portugal for Sporting Lisbon where he joined on a free last summer.
Centre Back: Roque Junior (Leeds United)
Probably best known for his gawky appearance on the pitch and always playing with a torn shirt, Roque Junior at one time was one of the best players in Europe in his position and actually played in the 2002 World Cup final. Peter Reid brought him in on loan after losing his place in the A.C. Milan side but only made five appearances.
After being sent off on his debut, Roque Junior only made a few more appearances for the Elland Road outfit and the team was eventually relegated at the end of the season.
In the later stages of his career, he barely made any appearances for any side and eventually retired in 2010. He made 50 appearances for Brazil in his time, which is quite the feat considering he was competing alongside the likes of Lucio and Edmilson.
Right Midfield: Robinho (Manchester City)
Undoubtedly a magnificent talent and one of the original wonder kids from Brazil, Robinho’s big money move seem to always have an air of impending failure about it. He set the Brazilian league alight for Santos which earned him a move to Europe in the form of Real Madrid.
He was seemingly set for Chelsea before Manchester City snared him on deadline day. Robinho became part of a mini Brazilian contingent in Manchester playing alongside Jo and Elano, yet unfortunately had more of a similar experience to the former rather than the latter.
Eventually forced his way out to go back to Santos on loan and impressed once more and is now rebuilding his reputation at A.C. Milan.
Centre Midfield: Ricardinho (Middlesbrough)
Truly one of the oddest mysteries of the Premier League, Ricardinho came into the North East and quietly left again without anyone noticing. An absolutely fantastic player in Brazil, his time on Teesside was much less remarkable.
He only made the bench once under Steve McClaren and quickly fled the country to go back to Brazil after less than a year. Ricardinho is one of the greatest shames about the Premier League and if anyone saw him play you would know why. Technically, he was one of the finest midfielders in his homeland yet failed to reproduce this talent in Europe.
He was part of both the 2002 and 2006 Brazilian World Cup squads and is now manager of Avai in Brazil.
Centre Midfield: Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton)
The David Beckham of Japanese football, Nakata fits into the category of an ‘Allardyce buy’, in that Big Sam signs a player probably nearing his twilight stages but manages to squeeze the last bit of talent he has out of them. While Nakata only joined on loan, his talent was abundant and was the talismanic figure that carried the Japan national team through the 2000s.
He impressed consistently in Serie A, playing notably for Roma where he was part of the side along Totti, Delvecchio and Montella that won the league in 2001. After meandering around mid table clubs in Italy, eventually joined Bolton on loan and finished his career there.
Retired at the very young age of 29 to focus on business instead after featuring at the 2006 World Cup.
Left Midfield: Hugo Viana (Newcastle)
After impressing in his first full season at Sporting Lisbon, Hugo Viana was brought to St. James’ Park in 2002 as a 19 year old. However, he also failed to live up to the hype and over three years only made sporadic forays into the first eleven.
Viana was sold onto Valencia, with Newcastle making a major loss on the player. Financially they took a major hit, but also they lost a player with supreme technique. Portugal haven’t fully benefited from him either, partly due to competition for places as well as Viana not fulfilling his worth at a major club.
He is now reaping the rewards of a regular place at SC Braga and made into 2011’s Europa League final with them.
Forward: Luc Nilis (Aston Villa)
Probably the biggest loss to world football, Luc Nilis was unable to bring his goal scoring prowess to England after a clash with Richard Wright in 2000 whilst playing for Aston Villa. Ronaldo (original) and Van Nistelrooy have both said in the past what a talented striker he was.
His goal tally is formidable at both Anderlecht and PSV but could only muster one goal for Villa in three appearances before having to retire through injury.
After his career was curtailed he stayed in the background of the game and is now an assistant manager in Turkey.
Forward: Claudio Pizarro (Chelsea)
Pizarro could have been a fantastic acquisition for Chelsea if he didn’t have to constantly play second fiddle to Shevchenko. After impressing at Bayern Munich for six years, Pizarro was brought to England by Mourinho on a Bosman.
He missed a penalty in the Community Shield on his debut which seemed to set the tone for the rest of his stay in West London. He only managed two goals in two years and was sold to Werder Bremen after initially having a successful loan spell there. His form was so good he managed to secure a return to Bayern Munich.
However, he finds himself on the periphery having to compete for the lone striker role against Mario Gomez and Mario Mandzukic.