Nicolas Pepe, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba: The Curse of Being a ‘Top Six’ Premier League Club’s Record Signing

Nicolas Pepe, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba: The Curse of Being a ‘Top Six’ Premier League Club’s Record Signing

Martin Moses
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM
In this article:
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
Jack Grealish logo
Manchester City logoMEngland logo
Paul Pogba logo
P. Pogba
Juventus logoMFrance logo
Romelu Lukaku logo
R. Lukaku
AS Roma logoFBelgium logo
  • Record signings of England's top clubs have always struggled to perform well despite their exemplary performances at their previous club
  • Nicolas Pepe joined Nice after his Arsenal career failed to take off despite the club making him their most expensive player of all time
  • Apart from the top-six clubs, there are other isolated cases like Wolverhampton's Fabio Silva and Crystal Palace's Cristian Benteke

Some interesting piece of observation point to the fact that the record signings of perceived top Premier League clubs often struggle.

The proverbial top-six sides in English football are usually not afraid to splash out money to land players, but more often than not, these players usually fail to match the hype.

Nicolas Pepe, Nice, Arsenal, Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Paul Pogba, Manchester United, Tanguy Ndombele, Tottenham Hotspur, Jack Grealish
Nicolas Pepe during his unveiling as a Nice player. Photo by Pascal Della Zuana.
Source: Getty Images

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Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal's record signing, is the latest player on this unwanted list to call it quits. Signed for 72 million euros from Lille three years ago, Pepe struggled for consistency at the Emirates stadium.

The Ivorian had lit up the French Ligue 1 with dazzling performances but was kept out of the Arsenal squad by the young talents of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli. He has now joined Nice on a season-long loan looking to establish himself in a league that was so kind to him before.

Romelu Lukaku

No surprise that he is on this list. The Belgian, in fact, had to deal with two stereotypes. The curse of being a record signing of a top-six club and wearing shirt number 9 for Chelsea.

He had just helped Inter Milan to the Serie A title before Chelsea decided to fork out close to 100 million euros to sign him. After a few first good games in London, he faded off, never to return. He has since rejoined Inter Milan.

Paul Pogba

It might be a little bit harsh to include the Frenchman here, but many people will agree that he never quite lived up to his potential in a Manchester United shirt. Pogba's best performance for United remains the comeback against Manchester City under Jose Mourinho that delayed City's coronation as champions. United chose not to extend his contract.

Tanguy Ndombele

Believed to be the reincarnation of Moussa Dembele, Spurs used 63 million euros to bring him to England. He, however, quickly fell off the pace with managers questioning his commitment and fitness issues. Like the first two, he has also been sent out on loan at Napoli.

For Manchester City's and Liverpool's record signings, the jury is still out, but from the onset, it is looking dim for Jack Grealish. The former Aston Villa captain has failed to nail his place in Pep Guardiola's team.

Darwin Nunez has only played less than 90 minutes for Liverpool, but he has already been sent off.

Tanguy Ndombele opens his Napoli account with a stunner

Sports Brief had earlier reported that Tottenham Hotspur reject Tanguy Ndombele scored in a friendly match in his debut game for Napoli against Juve Stabia.

Ndombele, who recently completed a loan move to the Italian side, did not take long to get his name on the scoresheet.

He whipped in a rocket of a goal from just outside the penalty area to give Napoli the lead in the second half.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)