Aston Villa were a decent team in the early 2000s. Unspectacular, but decent nonetheless.
Peter Schmeichel, Juan Pablo Angel, Darius Vassell and Dion Dublin were all part of the squad that began the 2001-02 season at Villa Park.
But in August 2001, then-chairman Doug Ellis decided to splash the cash (for once), spending £6m on Dinamo Zagreb striker Bosko Balaban.
The Croatian was dubbed “the future” of Villa and the answer to the club’s goalscoring problems. But Balaban’s time in England turned out to be an utter catastrophe.
When he joined, he looked dismally short of fitness, and began his career in the Midlands on the bench. But Balaban never improved, and saw his opportunities limited at Villa.
In fact, he only made eight appearances at Villa, each as a substitute, and failed to contribute a single goal for John Gregory’s side.
So bad was Balaban, that Villa loaned him back to Dinamo Zagreb for the 2002-03 season, and even though he chipped in with 15 goals back in Croatia, Villa were fed up with the goal-shy striker.
In December 2003 his contract was cancelled, and Balaban signed for Club Brugge on a free transfer. Miraculously, Balaban turned into a goal machine during his time in Belgium, netting 25 times in his first 24 games.
Perhaps Balaban was misused at Aston Villa. Or perhaps he couldn’t live with the pace of the Premier League. Either way, based on his price tag, his complete lack of goals, and his dreadful performances, he could well be the worst striker the Premier League has ever seen.