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What happened to West Ham's £9 million record flop?

The £9 million West Ham blew on Savio Nsereko will go down as one of the biggest failed gambles in recent Premier League history.

When West Ham were linked with smashing their own transfer record to sign Andy Carroll last month supporters were reminded of their previous highest ever outlay.

It will not bring back happy memories for Hammers fans, who no doubt will have done their best to erase this particular disaster from their minds.

It was back in January 2009 they completed the swoop, beating their previous record paid out to acquire Craig Bellamy from Liverpool for £7.5 million two years earlier. Bellamy left for Manchester City a week earlier and Nsereko turned out to be an unlikely replacement.

Gianfranco Zola was West Ham manager at the time, and their transfer policy was led by technical director Gianluca Nani, an Italian who should take direct blame for the Nsereko debacle.

Nani had worked with Nsereko, more commonly known as Savio, at Brescia, the club from which they signed him. Savio was only 19 at the time, but his goal record in Serie B was hardly astounding, three in 17 games that season.

It was potential that the Hammers bought him for, and he had showcased his talents months earlier at the European under-19 championships, where the Ugandan born striker featured for Germany and was awarded 'player of the tournament'.

At West Ham he never even came close to realising that potential, in fact he only started one game for the club. He made nine substitute appearances, where his highlight was a single assist, but the youngster never made the grade, and months later he was sold.

He is now at his seventh club in an odyssey which has taken him from Italy to Germany via Bulgaria and Romania.

The most disastrous part of his career is that the striker has not had success at any of his sides, and has not even scored a goal.

When we say he was sold, he was actually swapped, for defender Manuel da Costa, who was at Fiorentina, who now plays for Lokomotiv Moscow.

La Viola were not impressed by Nsereko upon signing him and he never featured for them, loaning him six months later to Bologna, where he made just two appearances.

He was then loaned to German second division club 1860 Munich, a spell which proved equally unproductive, featuring just twice- and his family even had to phone Interpol when he went missing and failed to attend training.

Savio then was loaned to Bulgarian side Chernomoret Burgas, where he again failed to score, before joining Italian minnows Juve Stabia in 2011 where he again repeated his disappearing act before having his contract terminated.

Another Eastern European side, Romanian's Vaslui took a gamble on him in January, but it did not work. Last month he signed with German third division side Spielvereinigung Unterhaching.

Still only 23, he has it all to do if he is to continue a professional career. The way he is heading he may be forced to consider giving up on professional football altogether by time he reaches 30.

It would be quite an astounding fall from grace for the £9 million man, but not the first time a player has proved unable to handle the hype and money.

Now handed another chance back in his native Germany, he will hope he can make this move work and get back on track, but the rate he is going, it is not looking likely.

Gianluca Nani is currently the technical director at Watford, working again with Zola, and will hope his buys for the Hornets are somewhat more successful. It would be hard for them to be worse.

image: © law_keven

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