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The top 5 World Cup ‘stars’ who flopped in the Premier League

| 15.07.2014

Arsenal’s £35m capture of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona represents a major coup for the north London club, but Gunners fans would be wise to remember that, when it comes to football, all that glitters at the World Cup doesn’t necessarily equal Premier League gold.

Arsene Wenger’s team are 13/2 outsiders for the title with Ladbrokes but before anyone at the Emirates starts dreaming of top-flight glory, they would be advised to recall the following five World Cup stars who went on to flop in England.

Tomas Brolin – Parma to Leeds United – £4.5m

Brolin was Sweden’s star at the 1994 World Cup, scoring three and creating countless more as the Scandinavians secured a third-place finish. Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson must have thought he had hit the jackpot a year later when the Swede arrived at Elland Road.

What he didn’t realise was that Brolin had been suffering with injuries since that World Cup and arrived unfit and lacking confidence. He managed four goals before Leeds gave up on the increasingly bulky forward, who departed for FC Zurich on loan after just 20 league appearances.

Stephane Guivarc’h  – Auxerre to Newcastle United – £3.5m

Fresh from impressing in Ligue 1 with 21 goals in 32 games, Guivarc’h was a shoo-in to lead the line for France at the 1998 World Cup, something that prompted Kenny Dalglish to jump the gun and sign the forward for Newcastle before a ball had even been kicked at the finals.

What followed was a series of performances that set the blueprint for Brazil ‘star’ Fred to follow at the 2014 finals, with Guivarc’h playing throughout without getting on the scoresheet. He didn’t fare much better with the Magpies, managing one goal in four appearances before moving to Rangers.

El Hadji Diouf –  Lens to Liverpool – £10m

The star of Senegal’s sensational opening game win over holders France, El Hadji Diouf was subsequently named by Pele as one of the 125 greatest living footballers in the world, helping the African side to a best-ever quarter-final finish at the 2002 World Cup.

Gerard Houillier had seen enough, signing him in place of the previously on-loan Nicolas Anelka in a move he may still regret. Three goals in 29 Premier League games followed for Diouf with Anelka netting 14 for Manchester City in the same season. The Senegal star soon departed to Bolton.

Kleberson – Atlético Paranaense to Manchester United – £6.5m

A year after helping Brazil to an unprecedented fifth World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Kleberson was hot transfer property, with Manchester United eventually winning the race to sign the midfielder, 12 months on from his starring role at the tournament.

Signed as a replacement for fellow South American flop Juan-Sebastian Veron, Kleberson somehow fared even worse than the Argentine, making 20 anonymous appearances and scoring two goals over two seasons before being shipped off to Besiktas.

Pablo Barrera – UNAM – West Ham – £6m

Purchased by the Hammers having impressed for Mexico at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Barrera managed the unique feat of instantly alienating the fans by explaining he was using the Upton Park move as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

“To perform for West Ham and then move to a bigger team in European football are my goals,” he told reporters. A total of 15 performances followed before Barrera was granted his wish, of sorts, moving to Real Zaragoza on loan, where he failed to make the grade before returning to Mexico.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.