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Joined: 8/17/98 Posts: 6730
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For the former poster great_state wherever you may be - worst transfer ever

I remember GS was a real Southampton fan, and maybe he's still around with a different moniker. This excerpt is from ESPN's ranking of worst Premier League transfers ever and it's a pretty funny story:

1. Ali Dia, FW, Southampton
Signed on a free transfer, 1996

Other players have certainly been more damaging to their club's finances or performance than Dia, who signed for free and only made one appearance with Southampton. Nobody got sacked or relegated because of Dia, although you might argue that the former should have happened given the series of colossal missteps which led to him making his first and only Premier League appearance.

The Dia story feels like it comes from another universe. A man calls Southampton manager Graeme Souness pretending to be World Player of the Year George Weah. The Milan striker recommends Dia, his cousin, suggesting he had just scored two goals for Senegal the prior week and played with Weah for Paris Saint-Germain before spending 1995 in the German second division. He would be an exciting prospect if any of that had been true. Dia was actually a 31-year-old college student who occasionally dabbled in non-league football.

Souness brought Dia in on a trial. Days later, he named him to the bench for a Premier League match against Leeds. Amazingly, after an injury, Souness sent Dia on as a substitute in the 32nd minute for Matt Le Tissier. His Premier League career lasted 53 minutes before Souness admitted his mistake and substituted Dia off. Dia went back to non-league football, never to return.

From Southampton's perspective, this is the worst transfer in Premier League history. From a neutral side of things, this is one of the best things that has ever happened. I don't want to do the "in-my-day" argument because it's boring, but I think it's fair to suggest that the modern Premier League is staid and professional to a fault. Today, there's no way a random university student could get a Premier League manager on the phone, and even if they succeeded, it would take two seconds to realize none of those claims about Dia were true.

There's something romantic about getting on your landline and convincing one of the most decorated players in Liverpool history that your friend is a Premier League-caliber footballer, let alone actually getting him onto the pitch for 52 minutes. Dia spent nearly as much time on a Premier League pitch in 1996 as Drinkwater did for Burnley. There will always be more players who command disproportionate transfer fees or who struggle to stay healthy after making an expensive move. In the Premier League, there will never, ever be another Ali Dia.

Posted: 05/05/2020 at 10:37AM


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