Suso, Juan Cuadrado, Paulinho… five stars to flop in the Premier League only to shine abroad

The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Mo Salah and David De Gea light up the division on a weekly basis.

But not every high-profile addition makes it in England…. there have been countless examples of players signed for big money that failed to settle and shipped off at a loss.

However, failing in the top flight doesn’t make a player a dud.

So we asked our friends at Football Whispers to pick out the Premier League flops who are now starring for clubs abroad. A few of the names will surprise you…

Florian Thauvin

The winger arrived at Newcastle United in the summer of 2015. He had impressed for Marseille who, under financial pressure, asked Thauvin to leave for the benefit of the club.

In truth, the Frenchman wasn’t overly enamoured with the idea of leaving the Ligue 1 side, but with a £12million offer on the table, he packed his bags and headed for Tyneside.

He made his debut as a substitute against Manchester United and in his first start scored and assisted three goals in a 4-1 League Cup win over Northampton.

Thauvin soon made headlines for arriving at games in a Tuxedo, something that didn’t go down well with Alan Shearer, the Magpies’ all-time top scorer.

“He turns up in a tux,” the Newcastle legend said. “This is a serious business we’re in here, it was funny on the first day of the season, it’s not funny any more.”

Thauvin’s form soon nosedived and after 16 appearances he was loaned back to Marsille in January 2016.

That move was made permanent at the beginning of the 2016/17 season and the France international ended that campaign with 15 Ligue 1 goals to his name.

Iago Aspas

The Spaniard joined Liverpool on a free transfer from Celta Vigo but was on a hiding to nothing at Anfield.

He was behind Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho in the pecking order under Brendan Rodgers and was only given fleeting chances to impress.

Aspas made 15 appearances in all competitions for the Reds – who finished second in the Premier League during his sole campaign at Anfield – and scored one goal, in an FA Cup third round win over Oldham.

His most memorable contribution for Liverpool was a shocking corner taken as Liverpool scrambled to find a rout back into a game against Chelsea to keep their title hopes alive.

Aspas had an unsuccessful loan spell at Sevilla during the 2014/15 campaign, before returning to Celta permanently in the summer of 2015.

The side’s talisman, the now 31-year-old has shone for the Galicians.


The Brazilian was signed as one of the many replacements for Gareth Bale, who had, eventually, moved to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee of £85.3m.

Unfortunately buying in bulk wasn’t a successful tactic for Spurs.

Paulinho joined for £17m but, after a promising start, his form dipped under Mauricio Pochettino and eventually he was left out of the side.

"My first game with Pochettino I played in my position but after that I played in every single position but mine,” he said last year.

"If you are not playing in your position in a league as competitive as England then it is difficult.”

Paulinho was eventually sold to Guangzhou Evergrande for £10m and while at the Chinese side he earned a recall for Brazil.

Clearly the Selecao coaches weren’t the only people impressed by his performances in China – he scored 28 goals in 95 games – and last summer Barcelona brought the 29-year-old back to Europe.

He started the season well at the Camp Nou and netted seven times in La Liga during the first half of the season.

He has since gone back to Guangzhou.

Juan Cuadrado

After two-and-a-half impressive years at Fiorentina, Chelsea beat off competition from a number of clubs to complete the signing of the highly-rated Colombian.

The Blues paid an initial £23.3m to sign Cuadrado but he lasted just six months at Stamford Bridge, making just four starts, although he was part of the squad which clinched the 2014/15 Premier League title.

Shipped out on loan to Juventus the following season, Cuadrado helped the Old Lady to a domestic double before returning to Chelsea, who were then managed by Antonio Conte.

He featured in pre-season but in August 2016 signed a two-year loan deal worth around £25m with Juve, who had an obligation to buy.

In his first season back Cuadrado and the Bianconeri again won Serie A and the Coppa Italia, and they also reached the Champions League final, where they were beaten by Real Madrid.


Much was expected of Suso – who was signed as a 16-year-old – at Liverpool and he impressed early in Rodgers’ time at the club.

But as the Reds’ squad grew stronger, the Spaniard’s game time diminished.

And after failing to break into the side during the 2014/15 season, Suso agreed a pre-contract deal with Milan in January 2015 and moved to San Siro the following summer.

"My contract was set to expire in June and Liverpool's offers did not satisfy me, neither economically nor in a sporting sense," Suso told Marca at the time.

"I arrived very much as a boy and I have learned a lot. I have grown, but I have not noticed a lot of trust in me.”

Suso’s decision to leave Liverpool has been vindicated.

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