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Top five ageing flops - Is Vieira set to join them

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11 Jan 2010 16:53:31

Top five ageing flops - Is Vieira set to join them

Roberto Mancini has made a promising start to his managerial career at Manchester City with his side claiming victories in each of their three games since he took charge.

Tonight the Citizens have the chance to climb into the Premier League's top four if they can overcome opponents Blackburn Rovers, yet the signing of Patrick Vieira continues to prove a more popular talking point.

Thirty-three-year-old Vieira is viewed by many, most notably Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho, as a spent force, but Mancini believes the former Arsenal midfielder still has plenty to offer and jumped at the chance to sign the Frenchman.

City fans will be hoping Vieira's age simply equates to valuable experience as their quest for glory continues, but the worry that he could prove yet another faltering has-been lingers ominously.

On that note, football.co.uk's Gareth Burton recalls his top five ageing flops of recent times.

Deco - Chelsea

Recognition as to when a player has come to the end of their powers is an art that deceives many managers. Sadly for Chelsea fans their judgement seems to have been particularly bad in recent times, with Deco a prime example of such transfer market misdemeanours. The Portuguese international was exceptional during his time at Spanish giants Barcelona and has shown glimpses of such magic at Chelsea, but sadly for Blues fans he has largely failed to meet expectation since his arrival at Stamford Bridge.

Wim Jonk - Sheffield Wednesday

With over 40 international caps for Holland and his former clubs including Inter Milan, Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, Jonk looked a decent signing when Sheffield Wednesday, then of the Premier League, parted with £2.5 million for his services. Sadly, the reality proved somewhat different and the midfielder was part of the Wednesday side relegated from the top flight in 2000. A series of injuries and inept performances in fact lead to his retirement from football at the end of the following season.

Andriy Shevchenko - Chelsea

Shevchenko is quite possibly the definitive example of the ageing flop. The Ukrainian striker arrived at Chelsea in 2006 with an enormous reputation and left an even larger hole in the pocket of Roman Abramovich, having cost the club £30.8 million. Despite being AC Milan's second highest goalscorer of all time and a former European Player of the Year, Shevchenko failed to justify his price tag and managed just a handful of goals before returning to Dynamo Kiev on a free transfer in 2009.

Michael Duberry - Wycombe Wanderers

While not a high-profile case it is only right to reflect upon similar mistakes that have been made in the lower leagues of English football. Duberry arrived at Adams Park at the start of this season with the task of guiding the newly-promoted Chairboys to League One survival. In fact, the former Chelsea and Leeds defender appeared a good acquisition having been a virtual ever-present for Reading in the Championship last season. Unfortunately, 'Dubes' has failed to deliver and has been branded by some fans as the worst captain in their history, while Wycombe currently sit second from bottom.

Freddie Ljungberg - West Ham

Having been an integral part of Arsenal's famous 'Invincibles' side, West Ham fans would have hoped that Ljungberg proved an astute signing when he joined the Hammers in 2007. However, the Swedish midfielder endured a torrid time and made only 25 appearances at Upton Park before his contract was mutually terminated at huge expense after just one season. City fans will certainly be hoping Vieira doesn't replicate his former teammate's downfall.

- Gareth Burton


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