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Expensive mistakes: Record signings out on loan

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Joao Felix
  • The winter transfer window has seen several high-profile loans.
  • Chelsea confirmed the loan signing of Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid.
  • We look into expensive mistakes currently out on loans.

Chelsea confirmed the loan signing of Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, with the Spanish club willing to let their club-record signing leave for the Premier League.

Felix has been allowed to leave Atletico Madrid on loan, signing a six-month deal with the Premier League club to bolster Graham Potter’s options in the final third.

Felix cost Atletico £113 million when he arrived from Benfica in 2019, but he isn’t the only record signing who has gone on loan this season after failing to make the expected impact.

Here are club-record signings currently out on loan:

Joao Felix

Joao Felix

Chelsea has signed Joao Felix on loan until the end of the 2022-23 season. Photo/ Chelsea Football Club.

Atletico Madrid’s £113 million deal for Felix stunned world football three and a half years ago, as the Spanish club broke their transfer record to sign the Benfica starlet. Felix had only spent one season in the first team at Benfica, but his 20 goals during the club’s title-winning season convinced Atletico to pay a high price for his services.

Felix’s free-spirited style of football has appeared to clash with Diego Simeone’s demands in the intervening years.

During his first interview at Chelsea, Felix hinted at a desire for more freedom, explaining how he wanted to bring ‘fun’ to the club’s supporters.

“I’ll bring my football, my happiness to the game, and a lot of fun to the fans,” said the 23-year-old.

“I don’t like talking about myself, but I’d describe myself as a player who wants to have the ball and play with joy. I want to make all fans happy by playing football and contributing to the team.”

Graham Potter will be hoping that Felix’s arrival will breathe new life into Chelsea’s season, which has seen the west Londoners win just once in eight games. The Blues are the lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top ten, and it will be hoped that Felix can inject invention into a struggling side.

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku had a bad 2021-22 season at Chelsea. Photo/ Goal.com.

Following the failed return of Romelu Lukaku to west London last season, Felix’s arrival has added another option to Chelsea’s forward line.

Chelsea agreed to pay Inter Milan £97.5 million to sign Lukaku in 2021 after the forward scored 64 goals in 95 appearances over two seasons at the San Siro. Lukaku previously played for Chelsea as a teenager, but he failed to make an impact and left in search of regular first-team football.

Chelsea brought the Belgian back almost 200 club goals later. However, the reunion was a disaster, as Lukaku struggled after a promising start.

A contentious interview with Italian media in which he lamented his role and expressed a desire to ‘one-day’ return to Inter Milan did the forward no favours. He scored only eight league goals, his lowest total since leaving Chelsea in 2014.

After a disappointing debut season, he was allowed to return to Inter Milan on loan last summer. The Serie A club paid an €8 million loan fee with add-ons, but there was no option to make a move permanent.

Lukaku’s situation has deteriorated since his return to Inter, where he has scored just two goals in seven games during an injury-plagued season.

Tanguy Ndombele

Tanguy Ndombele

Tanguy Ndombele’s fall from the Ligue 1’s star he was is an expensive mistake.|PHOTO: Eurosport|

 

Tottenham appeared to have pulled off a coup by signing Tanguy Ndombele, who had been pursued by Europe’s top clubs while at Lyon.

The north London club paid £55 million for Ndombele, who made his debut with a brilliant goal. That was the best the Frenchman got as he struggled to gain favour with a succession of Spurs managers.

Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Ryan Mason, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Antonio Conte all failed to bring out the best in Ndombele, whose work rate and fitness was frequently questioned during his time at the club.

Following Conte’s appointment as manager in November 2021, he started just three games and spent the second half of last season on loan at former club Lyon before joining Napoli on a season-long deal in 2022/23.

This season, the 26-year-old has made 20 appearances for the Italian league leaders in all competitions, but only eight have come from the start. It remains to be seen whether Napoli will exercise the option to make the agreement permanent.

Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe

Pepe in Arsenal colours.|PHOTO: Sky Sports|

Nicolas Pepe is yet another club-record signing who failed to live up to expectations in the Premier League.

Arsenal paid £72 million to sign the winger from Lille after he had a fantastic season with the French club, scoring 22 goals and providing 11 assists in the 2018/19 Ligue 1 season. Only Kylian Mbappe scored more than the Ivorian, who became Arsenal’s record signing that summer.

Pepe’s best moments in an Arsenal shirt came in spurts. After an underwhelming debut season, he improved in 2020/21, scoring 16 goals across all competitions.

Pepe struggled to gain favour under Mikel Arteta due to his inconsistent performances and the emergence of Bukayo Saka.

He returned to France this season on loan to Nice, where he was joined by several ex-Premier League players, including Kasper Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Joe Bryan. Pepe has six goals in 13 league appearances since returning to Ligue 1.

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