Overpriced flops like Jo and Roque Santa Cruz at City and Mateja Kezman and Fernando Torres at Chelsea were proof that money doesn’t necessarily make for instant success at the Premier League’s nouveau riche clubs.
But one of the most disappointing signings happened for both clubs before their respective takeovers.
George Weah remains the only African player to have won a Ballon d’Or, so there was some excitement when he rocked up at Chelsea on loan in January 2000, even at the age of 34.
Weah made his name as one of the world’s finest strikers in Italy, scoring 58 times in 147 games over five years at the San Siro, reaching his zenith in 1995, when he was named the world’s best player. Here’s a taste of one of his most famous goals:
He even started life in west London well, netting the only goal in Chelsea 1-0 win over Tottenham. Unfortunately for the Liberian and Blues fans, he would only net two more Premier League goals, and two more in the FA Cup.
Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli decided against making Weah’s move permanent, and he joined newly promoted City instead on a two-year deal.
His time there didn’t go too well either. He only scored once in the Premier League at City, in a defeat by Liverpool, and he netted twice more in the League Cup. All three goals came against Gillingham in a 1-1 draw and the following 3-2 win.
Weah eventually fell out with then-manager Joe Royle, labelling him disrespectful after he saw his playing time limited.
‘I’m not willing to subject myself to feeling small in front of the younger players that I hope to be an example and an inspiration to,’ Weah said. ‘I didn’t come for the money. I could have stayed at AC Milan but instead I sacrificed $2m [£1.4m] from them in order to come here. I didn’t leave that for somebody to tell me to shut up and f*** off.
‘I was made to feel old and of no real use to the club. I felt I was being used for publicity to attract other players.
‘My reasons for leaving are the lack of respect, the lack of communication and the dishonesty shown to me by Joe Royle.’
Weah left after just 10 weeks at Maine Road. The highlight of his time in City fans’ minds will be when he cut Dennis Irwin’s testimonial short by leaving a late tackle on the Manchester United full-back.
And although Weah is by no means the worst signing either side has made, both sets of fans believed he could recapture the incredible form of his younger years. Unfortunately, Weah was in the twilight of his career. Three years later, after short spells at Marseille and Al Jazira, Weah retired from professional football in 2003.