Fans always want to see their new signings hit the ground running, and there’s nothing more encouraging than when that comes to pass, but it’s safe to say the transition between clubs and, in particular, leagues isn’t always straightforward.
Many players take weeks if not months to adapt to their new surroundings, and that’s certainly been the case for a number of high profile acquisitions from last summer.
Here we look at the ten signings that have suffered the biggest drop off in WhoScored.com rating from old club to new, with a minimum of ten starts both this season and last required to qualify. Interestingly, across Europe’s top five leagues, only two are represented on the leader(loser)board, with a handful of players from both Serie A and the Premier League.
Let the countdown commence…
10) Matt Doherty - .28 rating decrease
Wolves (19/20): 6.99 | Tottenham (20/21): 6.71
It’s fair to say most felt Tottenham’s acquisition of Doherty would prove a shrewd one, and an upgrade on Serge Aurier on the right side of Spurs back four or five. However, the Ivorian has started more times in the league than the Irishman (14 to 12) and Doherty has failed to replicate the returns we were used to seeing from him in Wolves gold. The 29-year-old is yet to score for his new club having chipped in consistently in the Black Country and it’s no surprise having mustered just one shot in 15 league appearances.
9) Achraf Hakimi - .34 rating decrease
Borussia Dortmund (19/20): 7.32 | Inter (20/21): 6.98
While unlike Doherty, Hakimi has continued to post strong figures in the attacking third since moving to Inter, the Nerazzurri fans are arguably still to see the best of the Moroccan. That’s perhaps best evidenced by the fact that he hadn’t really made the right wing-back spot his own until the New Year. Understandably more restricted under Antonio Conte than he was at Dortmund, his dribbles per 90 have dropped from 2.4 to 1.1 at a disappointing 50 per cent success rate, but there’s undeniably more to come from the exciting 22-year-old.
8) Sandro Tonali - .34 rating decrease
Empoli (19/20): 6.86 | AC Milan (20/21): 6.52
Considered one of the top young midfielders in world football, Milan’s capture of Tonali was seen as a huge coup for the club and represented a chance for the 20-year-old to emulate the man he has been constantly likened to in club legend Andrea Pirlo. While he’s still extremely young and will surely improve, it’s safe to say Tonali has fallen well short of even his own standards from last season, let alone those of prime Pirlo. The majority of his stats aren’t wildly different from his time at Empoli barring his dribbling, which was a real standout last season. An average of 1.2 dribbles per 90 has dropped to 0.4, while an excellent 78 per cent success rate has fallen to a woeful 38.5!
7) Marash Kumbulla - .35 rating decrease
Verona (19/20): 6.79 | Roma (20/21): 6.44
Roma reportedly beat a number of high profile suitors to the signing of promising centre-back Kumbulla last year but the 21-year-old has really struggled to make his mark in the Italian capital. The Albania international has started just ten of 16 appearances in Serie A for his new club, who have kept a clean sheet in just three of said matches. While his reading of the game has remained solid enough when it comes to interceptions, his tackling has been found wanting, averaging half the number of last season per 90 (0.9 from 1.8) and committing over twice as many fouls (21) as he has made tackles (10).
6) Thomas Partey - .39 rating decrease
Atletico (19/20): 7.08 | Arsenal (20/21): 6.69
Much like Tonali, it is the drive from deep in midfield that Arsenal fans are yet to really see on a regular basis from their new recruit, with injuries plaguing Partey’s debut Premier League campaign to date. The Ghanaian has started just 12 of 15 appearances in England’s top-flight and while his dribbles per 90 remain similar, his success rate is modest where it was outstanding in LaLiga. He’s lost some of the bite to his game in Spain too, and while it may seem counterintuitive to suggest, the halving of his fouls per 90 highlights that Partey hasn’t been able to get as tight to his midfield opponents, with interceptions per 90 also falling from 1.7 to 0.9.
5) Dejan Kulusevski - .43 rating decrease
Parma (19/20): 7.12 | Juventus (20/21): 6.69
Having stolen a march on the competition by agreeing a deal with parent club Atalanta early last year, Juventus fans’ excitement at the prospect of seeing one of Serie A’s top young talents in black and white was only heightened by a debut goal. After four league appearances, Kulusevski had doubled his tally and looked on course to make good on his fine return of ten goals and eight assists from last season. Fast forward five months and he’s scored just once more in that time, as well as providing a solitary assist. He lost his place in the team as a result, starting just 14 of 25 league appearances, and has been overshadowed by the form of fellow newcomer Federico Chiesa.
4) Thiago - .54 rating decrease
Bayern (19/20): 7.47 | Liverpool (20/21): 6.93
It’s worth mentioning that Thiago’s rating this season is far from disastrous, but he sits so high up this list due to just how good he was at Bayern in their treble winning campaign. As such, fans not only of Liverpool but the Premier League as a whole were expecting big things of the Spaniard, but as yet haven’t seen anywhere near the best of the 29-year-old. Injuries within the Reds ranks have certainly made it a difficult debut season for Thiago, who has had to do more defending than he might have expected and been found somewhat wanting in that regard, committing almost as many fouls (33) as he has made tackles (35). His dribbling stats are also way down, but with Fabinho back in midfield, Reds fans should be more optimistic of seeing the real Thiago in the run in.
Willian - .72 rating increase
Chelsea (19/20): 7.31 | Arsenal (20/21): 6.59
After a strong swan song at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal fans would have hoped for far, far better from Willian following his free transfer last year. While some may have questioned the logic of signing a 32-year-old on big wages, returns of nine goals and seven assists in the league last season suggested the Brazilian still had plenty to offer. A tally of five assists this season is strong enough on paper having started just 14 of 21 league appearances, but Willian is yet to score for the Gunners and his figures for shots (1.3 from 2.5), key passes (1.8 from 2.6), dribbles (0.8 from 2.2) and tackles (0.9 from 1.6) are all way down on last season.
Kai Havertz - .73 rating decrease
Bayer Leverkusen (19/20): 7.24 | Chelsea (20/21): 6.51
It took some time for Chelsea to get a club record deal done for Havertz and it’s fair to say the Blues’ fans’ sense of excitement grew in the interim. Havertz had scored 29 goals over the previous two Bundesliga seasons after all and all by the age of just 21. 21 tough Premier League games later and he has added just one league goal to an impressive career haul thus far, while chipping in with a modest two assists. In truth it seems that Havertz is yet to truly find his place at Stamford Bridge, with Frank Lampard certainly at a loss to unlocking the youngster’s potential. Illness and injury have plagued his progress under both Blues’ bosses thus far to be fair, so it remains to be seen if compatriot Thomas Tuchel can get Havertz back to his brilliant best.
Timo Werner - .81 rating decrease
RB Leipzig (19/20): 7.60 | Chelsea (20/21): 6.79
Topping the list in no small part due to a sensational rating on route to 28 Bundesliga goals last season, there’s no escaping the fact that in his current form, even dreaming Werner could amass such a haul would be far-fetched. Unlike Havertz who has enjoyed some sweet relief from leaving for international duty, Werner's woes worsened with an unbelievable miss that would have put Germany ahead, before going on to lose in shocking fashion to North Macedonia. He’s just utterly bereft of confidence having scored just once for Chelsea since the November international break, with a dismal conversion rate of 8.2 per cent falling off a cliff from the 22.8 per cent he managed in his final season at Leipzig.
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