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January transfer window: Ranking Africa's worst ever signings

11:40 GMT+3 06/01/2023
Bony, Aghahowa, McCarthy
GOAL name and shame Africa's worst ever transfer flops of the January transfer window.

  • Julius Aghahowa

    #7 Julius Aghahowa

    A somersaulting sensation at the 2002 World Cup, the fleet-footed Aghahowa appeared destined for great things when he initially emerged on the scene, and enjoyed success with Shakhtar Donetsk after signing for the Ukraine giants.

    A move to England—and specifically Wigan Athletic—didn’t go so well, even if then-manager Paul Jewell salivated at the prospect of working with the forward.

    Needless to say, things didn’t work out.

    At £3.5 million, he wasn’t as big a flop as some of the other players on this list, but he failed to score a single Prem goal across his year and a half with the club, and he departed for Turkey 18 months later.

  • Wilfried Bony Manchester City

    #6 Wilfried Bony

    Bony became Africa’s most expensive player of all time when he signed for Manchester City from Swansea City in early 2017, having excelled with the Swans across a season and a half in English football.

    After netting 25 in 54 league games for the Welsh club, he would go on to score just six in 36 at City, despite the wealth of creative talents around him.

    Despite his £28 million transfer fee, Bony was allowed to depart on loan to Stoke City in 2016-17, having struggled to strike up a relationship with Sergio Aguero and having been eclipsed by the emerging Kelechi Iheanacho.

  • Jean II Makoun

    #5 Jean II Makoun

    A midfield general in French football with Olympique Lyonnais, Makoun proved that Gerard Houllier hadn’t left his mixed success in the transfer market behind him at Anfield when he signed for Aston Villa in 2011.

    He departed for Olympiakos on loan after just eight league games, having cost a princely £6.2 million, and was deemed surplus to requirements under Paul Lambert.

  • Kaba Diawara gets away from Jason Dodd of Southampton during the FA Carling Premiership match between Southampton v West Ham United at the Dell, Southampton

    #4 Kaba Diawara

    Billed by Arsene Wenger as ‘the new Nicolas Anelka’ when he arrived at Arsenal from Girondins de Bordeaux in a £2.5 million deal in January 1999, Diawara appeared primed to be one of Le Professeur’s masterstrokes in the market.

    Unfortunately, he failed to score in his 15 appearances for the club, and was loaned back to France just over four months after he’d originally put pen to paper.

    He subsequently featured for both Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain—failing to score a league goal with either—and also went goalless in the Prem after returning with both West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers.

    Diawara oversaw Guinea's run to the Last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations last year.

  • Christopher Samba

    #3 Christopher Samba

    The centre-back departed England with a good standing within the Premier League when he departed Blackburn Rovers to sign for Anzhi Makhachkala.

    However, it’s fair to say that his good reputation evaporated quickly after he returned to the top flight in a bid to save Queens Park Rangers from relegation.

    Fitness problems played their parts, as did a spat with the club’s fans on social media, while it clearly wouldn’t have been easy to adapt to a struggling side who had lost their way under Harry Redknapp.

    However, the veteran coach could do little to rehabilitate the £12.5 million Samba when the defender lost his confidence, and QPR were duly relegated.

  • Savio Nsereko of West Ham United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Upton Park on February 8, 2009

    #2 Savio Nsereko

    Don’t be surprised if a few Premier League fans aren’t too familiar with Savio, with the Ugandan youngster having made a minimal impact at West Ham United during a brief stint with the club.

    He arrived with a big billing—and apparently bags of potential—after being signed from Brescia by Gianfranco Zola.

    Hammers fans never saw that reported quality, while Savio’s attitude and application were also questioned.

    Following his departure, the club formally investigated the machinations behind his transfer, such was their bafflement.

  • Benni McCarthy, Cape Town City

    #1 Benni McCarthy

    Another miserable signing for West Ham, the forward had been a hit at Blackburn Rovers earlier in his Premier League career, but Gianfranco Zola recruited another dud with McCarthy—who was clearly past his best when he arrived in East London.

    It was a sad demise for South Africa’s all-time top scorer, and a Champions League winner with FC Porto, as the frontman appeared overweight as he laboured to zero goals in 14 outings.

    A spat with Hammers chief Karren Brady pre-empted an acrimonious departure, and a move to the Hammers arguably cost Benni a spot in South Africa's 2010 World Cup squad.