Pogba to Hazard; 7 Biggest Declines in Football History

Pogba to Hazard; 7 Biggest Declines in Football History

Edwin Kiplagat
updated at September 29, 2023 at 9:08 AM
In this article:
Eden Hazard logo
-FBelgium logo
Paul Pogba logo
P. Pogba
Juventus logoMFrance logo
Philippe Coutinho logo
P. Coutinho
Al Duhail logoMBrazil logo
Jadon Sancho logo
J. Sancho
Borussia Dortmund logoFEngland logo
Fernando Torres logo
F. Torres
Oygarden FK logoFSpain logo
  • Some footballers have experienced a fall from grace after making big money moves
  • Philippe Coutinho and Jadon Sancho are examples of stars who had major drop-offs
  • Sports Brief looks at some of the biggest footballers who experienced steep declines

Footballers generally have short careers but some - like Cristiano Ronaldo - can stay at the top level for more than two decades while others have brief moments of greatness before their careers rapidly decline for several reasons.

Paul Pogba was considered a world-class midfielder for a few years but has suffered an inexplicable drop-off.

He has been provisionally suspended because of an anti-doping offence, which puts his career under serious threat as he faces a ban of up to four years.

Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard, Philippe Coutinho, Jadon Sancho, Fernando Torres, Barcelona Manchester United, Chelsea, Premier League, La Liga
Injuries and loss of form have played a part in players falling off. Photos by DeFodi Images and Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images.
Source: Getty Images

Some players were considered the best in the world, but for some reason, they fell off and failed to recapture their magical touch.

Injuries, mental hurdles, and personal issues have prevented some players from truly reaching their potential and being consistent in their careers. Sports Brief looks at the 7 biggest drop-offs in recent years.

7 biggest declines in football

7. Donny van de Beek - Ajax, Man United

The Dutch midfielder joined United in the summer of 2020 for €39 million from Ajax. He has failed to impress at the club and with strong competition for positions at United, it is hard to see him continue at Old Trafford. Van de Beek has been overlooked during his time at the club and failed to secure a move away this summer. In three seasons, he has played 60 games for Man United and scored just two goals, per Transfermarkt.

Donny van de Beek; Manchester United; failures, declines, premier league
Donny van de Beek stumbling into pre-season versus Athletic Bilbao in 2023. Photo: Charles McQuillan.
Source: Getty Images

6. Alexis Sanchez - Barcelona, Arsenal, Man United, Inter Milan

The Chilean was one of the best forwards in the Premier League in the last few years but after joining Manchester United in January 2018, things went south quickly. He bagged just five goals in 45 appearances before he was shipped to Inter Milan. He later said he wanted to leave the club after the first training session, per Sky Sports.

5. Fernando Torres - Liverpool, Chelsea

The Spaniard was one of the best strikers in the world at some point but flopped badly after his £50 million move to Stamford Bridge in January 2011. He became a shell of himself and scored just 20 goals in 110 league games for Chelsea. He ended up winning the FA Cup, the Champions League, and the Europa League. Torres did end up having a fulfilling career with a FIFA World Cup and a European championship medal.

4. Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dormund, Man United

Sancho was expected to usher in a new era at Old Trafford but has so far failed to replicate his Borussia Dortmund form in Manchester. His future is uncertain after a public spat with manager, Erik ten Hag, who questioned his commitment to training. Sanchojoined the Red Devils from Dortmund for £73mil in 2021 and has scored 12 goals in 82 appearances.

3. Eden Hazard - Chelsea, Real Madrid

Madrid paid €120mil to acquire the services of the Chelsea legend, but his time in Madrid was a nightmare. He spent five seasons at the club and left this summer, and reports suggest he is considering retirement. He scored just seven goals in 76 appearances and was beset by injuries and a loss of form in Spain. Hazard was supposed to take over from Cristiano Ronaldo, but he could be Real Madrid's worst-ever signing.

2. Paul Pogba - Man United, Juventus

Pogba returned to Man United with plenty of expectation in 2016. He was decent for the most part and even led France to the 2018 World Cup title but things went downhill a few years since that glorious moment. He never recaptured his form and suffered recurring injuries which affected his form. He has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, from extortion and witchcraft to now doping. With the suspension, he looks potentially finished.

1. Philippe Coutinho - Inter Milan, Liverpool, Barcelona, Aston Villa

The Brazilian is the third most expensive footballer of all time, but he fell off hard after joining Barcelona in January 2018. The 30-year-old managed 106 appearances in all competitions for Barca and scored 28 goals. He failed to recapture his form at Aston Villa and will play in Qatar for the 2023/24 season. Considering the fee Barcelona paid to buy get him from Liverpool, Coutinho could be the biggest flop in football history.

Pogba almost quit football

Sports Brief earlier reported Pogba recalling when he almost retired from football after an incident which had affected his mentality.

This incident saw the former Man United star's brother - Matthias - detained with four others in connection to an organised extortion ring.

"Sometimes I thought: ‘I don’t want money anymore, I don’t want to play football anymore. I want to be with normal people so they will love me for who I am, not for the fame or the money," Pogba said.
Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.