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Ranked: Southampton’s WORST record transfer signings since 2001

Find out who St. Mary’s Musings ranked as Saints’ worst signing to break the club’s transfer record.

Southampton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

11 years passed before Southampton’s transfer fee record was broken, with the £6m spent on Jay Rodriguez surpassing the £4m fee spent on Rory Delap from Derby County in 2001.

Since Delap, the club-record transfer fee has been broken seven times.

Prompted by current record-holder Guido Carrillo’s brief stop at Saints before reuniting with Mauricio Pellegrino at Leganes, we decided to poll St. Mary’s Musings readers to see who they thought was the club’s worst player to break the record transfer fee.

You can see the results of that poll here.

Below, we rank the players who we believe to be the worst Saints broke the bank for. (All transfer fees courtesy of Soccerbase)


READ: Southampton may have to sell before they buy - Mark Hughes


1. Dani Osvaldo - £15m – Aug 2013

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Signed for £15m from AS Roma in 2013, Osvaldo made just 13 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton, scoring three goals.

Looking totally disinterested in playing for the club, he was infamously suspended by Saints for headbutting team captain Jose Fonte in training.

After that, Osvaldo was done with the club. The Argentina-born Italian international was then sent out on loan to the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, and Boca Juniors.

Osvaldo failed to impress Juve enough to secure a long-term move, before heading to Inter. At Internazionale, he scored five goals in 12 games, but was suspended by the club for being absent from training without reason. Before that, he had publicly fallen out with star striker Mauro Icardi.

After the Boca loan move, Saints terminated Osvaldo’s contract. A move to Porto and a return to Boca Juniors followed, but he had his contract terminated once again at the latter club following an argument with then-manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto, which happened after Osvaldo was caught smoking in the club dressing room.

Osvaldo retired from football altogether in August 2016, aged just 30. Apparently, he wanted to focus on his music career instead.

As he cost so much money (only £4m less than Carrillo) and the fact Southampton couldn’t sell him on despite his apparent talent, we rate Osvaldo as Saints’ WORST record transfer signing.

Your ranking: #2 (182 votes of 565 – 32%)

2. Guido Carrillo - £19m – Jan 2018

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Poor Guido Carrillo. He was doomed from the very start.

Signed from Monaco by former boss Mauricio Pellegrino, who Carrillo has joined forces with once again at La Liga’s Leganes, Carrillo signed for goal-shy Southampton as the club was struggling with the pangs of a relegation battle.

Plodding and seemingly playing in a system which didn’t suit him nor any other Southampton striker at that time, Carrillo was totally ineffectual as the man the club looked to in saving them from the humiliation of relegation – even if we did survive the drop in the end.

Saints fans were warned by French football expert Julien Laurens…

The price tag doesn’t help – Carrillo could remain Saints’ record signing for years from now – but I find it hard to point the finger totally at the Argentine striker for his failings as a Saints striker. I didn’t expect him to be considered a part of the team going forward with new manager Mark Hughes in charge, and the Leganes move suggests we won’t see Carrillo trying to play as a target man in Saints’ red and white again.

A rubbish signing by a desperate club being led by an incompetent manager who was totally out of his depth. But recency bias and that inflated price tag doesn’t make him worse than Osvaldo and his storied off-field problems in my mind.

Your ranking: #1 (336 votes of 565 – 59%)

3. Sofiane Boufal - £16m – Aug 2016

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Sofiane Boufal has shown brief flashes of brilliance since moving to Southampton from Lille back in 2016’s summer transfer window.

Boufal scored three times in the 50 appearances made for Saints, with plenty of those appearances coming after he had warmed the substitute’s bench.

The Paris-born Moroccan international was originally signed as Sadio Mane’s replacement as the Senegalese forward moved to Liverpool. However, things never really took off for Boufal – as good as his goal against West Bromwich Albion was last season.

Boufal’s problems at the club were exacerbated following an alleged changing room bust-up between manager Mark Hughes, which led to the winger training alone.

He was then omitted from Southampton’s pre-season tour of China, signalling the end of Boufal’s time playing for Saints while Hughes is in charge at the very least.

A couple of days ago, Boufal left Southampton to join La Liga’s Celta Vigo on loan.

Your ranking: #3 (24 votes of 565 – 4%)

4. Gaston Ramirez - £12m – Aug 2012

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Saints’ marquee signing as the club emerged back from the depths of the Football League, Gaston Ramirez never worked as our leading playmaker.

It could have been a system issue, with the majority of Southampton’s play going through Adam Lallana. However, Ramirez never really settled at Southampton and whenever he did have a solid run of playing time, he seemed to fall down with injury just as momentum began.

With the club progressing without him, Ramirez was sent out on loan to Hull City and Middlesbrough – impressing enough with the latter, scoring 7 goals in 18 games from midfield in the Championship, that Middlesbrough took a chance on signing him for free.

But Ramirez’s form took a nosedive when playing for Boro in the Premier League and he was promptly shifted out to Serie A side Sampdoria where he is currently playing.

There was a lot of promise and some nice moments, but, ultimately, Ramirez never delivered on the £12m fee paid to Bologna six years ago (time flies, eh?).

Your ranking: #4 (14 votes of 565 – 2%)

5. Rory Delap - £4m – July 2001

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Symbolic of just how average-but-effective Southampton’s team was in the early noughties, Rory Delap enjoyed a five-year spell at the club as Stuart Gray’s first signing after replacing Glenn Hoddle as manager.

Delap was never heralded as the man to lift Saints up the Premier League table as he signed from Derby County in ’01, but he was just so bloody bang average. It was always a depressing thought that Southampton’s record signing was Delap for those 11 long years. Also, my dad used to call him “Rory Dollop” just to really emphasise how uninspiring this signing was.

Still, at least he pulled off this cracker against Tottenham Hotspur in 2004.

Delap was, of course, known for his ridiculously-long throw ins, a tool Stoke City utilised effectively during their Tony Pulis days. Now aged 42, the former Republic of Ireland international retired from football in 2013 following a brief stint at Burton Albion.

Your ranking: Joint #5 with Mario Lemina (3 votes of 565 – 1%)

I know… Polls are no longer sacred.

And the rest

I don’t feel I can really write anything negative about Jay Rodriguez, Victor Wanyama, nor Mario Lemina. Lemina is still at the club and has shown plenty of promise, while Rodriguez and Wanyama were very good at Saints during their stays on the South Coast.

It’s to be expected, but some funny f’ers thought they’d vote these three as the worst Saints record transfers. Rodriguez garnered 2 votes of 565 (0%), Wanyama got just the 1 (0%), while Lemina scored 3 to see him sit alongside Rory Delap with 1% of the total vote. Crazy.