Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Look Back At Some Of Middlesbrough’s Worst Modern Transfer Signings

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Josh Barker
Middlesbrough FC correspondent for The 4th Official.

Middlesbrough, like many clubs, have their ups and downs with transfers. For every Victor Valdes, there is a Marvin Emnes. They have never been a club who have been able to spend huge money. However, every once in a while they would splash the clash. Unfortunately, though they would also often get transfers wrong. Most notably in the 2009-2010 reign of terror under Gordon Strachan in which he brought in a plethora of SPL players, 95% of which were useless. These included flops like Kris Boyd, Kevin Thomson, Willow Flood and a number of other less than adequate players who set Middlesbrough back several years.

However, while an honourable mention must be given to most of Strachan’s signings, Middlesbrough have also made huge blunders outside the Strachan era.

Here are three of Middlesbrough’s worst modern day transfers.

Afonso Alves

As mentioned earlier, Middlesbrough are not the richest club in the world. But back in January 2008, Middlesbrough made their record signing. Afonso Alves signed from Dutch side SC Heerenveen for a club record fee of £14.45 million. This was a huge fee for Middlesbrough at the time and still remains their highest transfer fee. It was also a pretty big fee for any Premier League club back in 2008. To put it into perspective, the only signing more expensive in the winter window that year was Nicolas Anelka for £15 million.

So with the fact he was one of the biggest winter window signings, Middlesbrough’s record signing and had scored 48 goals in 50 games for SC Heerenveen, you would have expected Alves to be lighting up the Premier League. Unfortunately for Boro fans, he was a complete flop. In his first full season for Boro, the striker played 31 games and scored four league goals. Alves’s first full season at Boro was the 2008/09 season. This also happened to be the season Middlesbrough were relegated from the Premier League.

Therefore, not only was Alves a record signing that completely flopped, he also, as Boro’s main striker failed to score a respectable amount of goals to keep Middlesbrough up. This is why he is, one of, if not the worst Middlesbrough signing in the modern era.


Mido is an Egyptian striker who Middlesbrough signed from Spurs for £7.48 million in August 2007. This was still a pretty big fee for Middlesbrough at the time.

But like Alves, Mido failed to live up to his price tag for a number of reasons. Firstly, he was not a Premier League goal scorer and managed just seven goals in his time at Boro. Secondly, he was very injury prone. In total, Mido missed 290 days through injury between 2007 and 2009. This is clearly not something you want in a new signing and his injury problems meant he played just 12 games for Boro in his first season. Thirdly, Mido was incredibly lazy on the pitch. He even began to put on a large amount of weight and no longer looked like a professional footballer. Mido also played several games for Boro in the first half of the 2008/09 season when they were relegated.

Overall, Mido was expensive (at the time), lazy, injury prone and not a very good goal scorer which makes him one of Boro’s worst signings.


Lee Dong-Gook

Lee Dong-Gook signed for Boro in January 2007 from Korean side Pohang Steelers on a free. So it is clearly not Lee Dong-Gook’s transfer fee that landed him on this list. What actually lands him on this list is the striker’s abysmal goal scoring record.

In his year and a half stay at Middlesbrough, Lee Dong-Gook played 23 Premier League games for Middlesbrough. He scored zero goals in that time. Can you imagine signing a striker, having him at your club for a year and a half and him not scoring a single league goal? Admittedly, Dong-Gook did score two goals whilst at Boro in cup competitions. However, they are not much to brag about. In the 2007/08 season, he scored one FA Cup goals against Mansfield Town. Then in the League Cup, he scored one against Northampton Town in the second round.

This shows what a bad signing Lee Dong-Gook was as he never managed a single league goal while at Boro.

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