Many talented players have been and gone from the Premier League, failing to hold down a starting place. Normally joining from Europe, with big price tags and hype attached, the Premier League has swallowed up some of the biggest names in the game. Many of these players, however, have gone on to find out that there is life after the Premier League.
Premier League Rejects Thriving on the Continent
In May 2013, Iago Aspas joined Liverpool for £9 million. Under manager Brendan Rodgers, he went down as a flop on Merseyside. He played just one season for Liverpool, scoring one goal in 15 appearances. He struggled to adapt to the English game and was loaned to Sevilla, later rejoining Celta Vigo on a permanent deal.
Now, almost three years after his time in England, Aspas has shown how capable he really is. Playing 78 games in the past two seasons, he has scored 39 goals for Celta Vigo, becoming a key man in the process. He made his first ever appearance for Spain after several impressive performances for his club, scoring on his international debut against England.
Spain is clearly a good environment for Aspas, with the Spanish international going from Liverpool flop to Celta Vigo talisman.
Signed by Leicester City in 2015, Andrej Kramaric never found his feet in England. Playing just 20 games for the Foxes, Kramaric scored just four goals during his time with the club. Loaned out to German side Hoffenheim, Kramaric missed Leicester’s historic title run, but since he did play two games that season, he received a Premier League winner’s medal.
After just one year and four days, Kramaric left Leicester and made his move to Hoffenheim permanent. Signing a four-year deal, he looked to reignite his career. In his first season at the club on loan, he had a decent year, scoring five goals in 15 games.
This year, under the Bundesliga’s youngest coach, Julian Nagelsmann, Kramaric has put together a superb season. In 27 games this season, he has scored an impressive 14 times to lead his side to the Champions League places. It is clear that the Bundesliga is a league where Kramaric can thrive and continue to rebuild his career.
Known for his electric pace and work ethic, Juan Cuadrado would work really well in Antonio Conte’s system, but when he joined Chelsea for £26 million, he had to deal with José Mourinho. The Portuguese manager has a reputation for being stubborn, and Cuadrado fell victim. The versatile winger played 15 games for Chelsea, but failed to score for the Blues. He was loaned to Juventus for the 2015-16 season.
After contributing five goals and helping I Bianconeri to the Serie A title, he signed a three-year loan deal with the club. Technically, Cuadrado hasn’t left the Premier League and he could still play for Chelsea down the line, but it’s very likely the Colombian plays his best years under Max Allegri in Turin.
When Louis Van Gaal signed Memphis Depay in 2015, expectations were extremely high. Memphis made his name in the Eredivisie when he led PSV Eindhoven to their 22nd league title, winning the golden boot award. Labelled one of the best young players in the world, Manchester United fought off Paris Saint-Germain for his services. Signing for £29 million, he needed to adapt and adapt fast. In his first season in Manchester, he was average at best.
When Van Gaal left the club as planned, José Mourinho brought change and attitude to the club, and Memphis wasn’t a part of his vision. Last January, he left for France, joining Lyon on a four-year deal. Signing for a cut price, he had found a team who wanted to use him in the right way. Lyon don’t normally spend big, but the signing is already paying off. Scoring five goals in 10 games, Memphis is showing the potential that was on display in the Netherlands.
In a world of out-of-control transfer fees, players will always be lured to the Premier League. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but as the players above will tell you, the grass can be greener elsewhere.