It's not unusual for players to flop in the Premier League at first, only to go on to fruitful careers, either in England or abroad. Here are some of the top cases.

By 90Min
February 19, 2018

“With [Kevin] De Bruyne, if you have a player knocking on your door and crying every day he wants to leave, you have to make a decision,” Jose Mourinho confidently barked as he cast the Belgian aside in 2014, as quoted by The Independent. “He was not ready to compete. He was an upset kid, his training very bad.”

As the midfielder packed his final bag in west London, it looked as though his future lay inside the boundaries of the continent rather than our marketing-rich island. A red-headed maestro, whose reputation from his time at Genk and Werder Bremen had not preceded him in the eyes of the self-appointed 'Special One', expelled from the Premier League and Stamford Bridge.

In truth, what presented itself before him was an opportunity of redemption, a chance to collate and nurture his undeniable potential in a youth development paradise; the Bundesliga, before returning his focus towards systematically deconstructing his doubters' damming claims. But, on return to England in the summer of 2015, under the coaxing of Manuel Pellegrini, despite again showcasing his worth abroad, a wall of vacillation was the only welcoming party present.

“Manchester City paying so much money for Kevin De Bruyne is an absolute joke," claimed Daily Star contributor and reliable hyperbole machine Paul Merson, as De Bruyne secured a six-year deal. “I thought he was out of his depth at Chelsea. He never once went out on the pitch and looked like he belonged there. Okay, he's had a good season in Germany. But there are only a few decent clubs there really, aren't there? It's not the Premier League."

Indeed, Germany is not home to the Premier League, but yet is to a side who have secured Champions League silverware more recently than any from these shores and boasts a national team who have lifted the World Cup and European Championship trophy on three occasions each since 1966.

To find an outcast similar to De Bruyne, a meandering 35-mile journey along the M62 will suffice; from the gray-paneled interrupted glass wall of the Etihad Stadium, to the towering red-bricked colossus of Anfield, where you will discover Mohamed Salah.

Another deemed expendable by Mourinho and the Premier League for a pittance, the Egyptian King has taken English football by storm since his return during the summer. Once a player only worthy of three outings under the man who now holds the thrown at Old Trafford, now one who could well turn out to be the poisoned chalice who removes his former master from office. But, what about the rest?

There have been many talents over the years, increasingly more so in line with the growing ego of this nation's top-flight, who have felt the isolation an underperforming footballer suffers, but yet it has not hampered them since.

Florian Thauvin, a creative midfielder who was deemed surplus to requirements by Newcastle United, an outfit currently fighting for their top-flight lives, has proved pivotal in Olympic Marseille's Ligue 1 Champions League charge, recording 15 goals and 10 assists, all the while being branded a 'flop' in England.

Memphis Depay, an undoubtedly talented attacker who seemingly was not shown "enough love" during his time with Manchester United, but has notched three goals and two assists in Olympique Lyonnais' search for Europa League success.

Paulinho; seen more as a joke figure to the scoffing Premier League society, however, a midfielder who could quite feasibly wrap his hands around as many trophies this season alone as former club Tottenham Hotspur have secured in the past 27 years, and counting, in addition to already setting La Liga records.

And more recently, Michy Batshuayi, who since being ousted by power-crazy Antonio Conte in January, despite being the final piece in handing the Italian the English top-flight trophy during his first campaign, has scored five-times as many goals as replacement Olivier Giroud for his new club in just one extra outing.

Without a doubt the Premier League houses some of the best talents on the planet, and, as will most likely be the case come the summer, the best XI in Europe.

However, another fact that is simply undeniable is there will be another De Bruyne, another Salah whose original opportunity to shine in England was quashed.

I just hope that when that moment comes and the monetary bubble bursts, which it will, we are not left overlooking a tattered footballing nation and thinking, "What if?"

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