The end of 2023 and the start of 2024 can't come fast enough for some of the Premier League's best players. A loss of form or failure to win at a new club after a big transfer has made 2023 a year to forget. But for others, seemingly endless injury problems have denied them the chance to rediscover their best form and regain a first-team place.
So as 2023 draws to a close, which players make this year's most disappointing team? No, they don't all play for Chelsea.
Andre Onana, Manchester United
It's been a strange year for the Manchester United goalkeeper. He shone for Inter Milan en route to last season's Champions League final and earned a £43.8m move to Old Trafford. However, since replacing David De Gea — whose mistakes led to his exit from United — Onana has made a series of disastrous errors that have contributed to their poor first half of the season.
A stoppage-time penalty save to secure a Champions League win against FC Copenhagen — but overall no goalkeeper has been as unreliable as Onana.
Reece James, Chelsea
The Chelsea defender has had no fewer than seven dismissals this year due to injury or illness, having also missed England's World Cup squad a year ago due to a knee injury. James' year to forget has not lost form.
The 24-year-old has had a miserable 12 months struggling with his injuries. At his best, James is Chelsea's first-choice right-back and captain, but his latest injury — a hamstring — is likely to delay his start until March 2024.
Eric Dier, Tottenham
Dier was playing for England at the World Cup last December but hasn't made a single appearance for Tottenham in a year.
The 29-year-old has made just two Premier League appearances under new manager Ange Postecoglou, starting just once despite his ability to play in defense and midfield. He started 31 Premier League games last season, but with Postecoglou making it clear he doesn't fit into his plans, Dier is likely to start a transfer in 2024.
Josco Cardiol, City of Manchester
Manchester City completed a £77.6m deal for the RB Leipzig man in the summer, one of Europe's most sought-after defensive talents. But despite the Croatia international's strong pedigree, Guardiola has struggled to adjust to the pace and intensity of the Premier League, and his efforts to find form have been hampered by manager Pep Guardiola's regular selection of playing him on the left.
Guardiola has made his name as a centre-half, but with Ruben Diaz, Manuel Akanji and John Stones ahead of him in that position at the Etihad, it has been a difficult start for the 21-year-old at City.
Gugurella often has to wonder what his career would have been had Chelsea not derailed his move from Brighton to Manchester City in August 2022 by offering more than double City's £60m bid.
Nothing went right for Gugurella at Chelsea. He is now his fourth manager at Stamford Bridge in less than 18 months and Mauricio Pochettino has obvious doubts about the 25-year-old's qualities. In the recent defeat at Manchester United, Cucurella was forced off at right-back and substituted at half-time.
Chelsea blocked a loan move to Old Trafford in August and although that didn't work out for Gugurella, he needed a change of scenery.
Enzo Fernandes, Chelsea
Through no fault of his own, Fernandes became the most expensive player in Premier League history when he joined Chelsea from Benfica for £105m in January.
Fernandez's contribution to Argentina's World Cup win on the deal a month ago boosted his valuation, but Chelsea value the midfielder at more than £100m after joining Benfica from River Plate for an initial £8.8m in August 2022. 22 years old.
Fernandes clearly has great talent, but the constant upheaval of players and coaches at Chelsea has not helped him settle and he has had a difficult year.
Calvin PhillipsCity of Manchester
The Manchester City midfielder started four games last season and finished with winners' medals in the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. So far this season, the former Leeds man has started just one game in all competitions.
Despite failing to convince Guardiola of his worth at City, Phillips retained his England place and made six appearances for manager Gareth Southgate's side in 2023, making it a rare occurrence for a player to appear more often for his country than his club side.
With the January transfer window set to open, Guardiola has made it clear that Phillips could leave City if he can find a new club.
Mason Mount, Manchester United
Mount was Manchester United's first signing of the summer, arriving at Old Trafford in a £55million transfer from Chelsea, but nothing has gone right for the midfielder at Old Trafford.
The 24-year-old has made just eight appearances in all competitions for United and has failed to start a game at Chelsea since March due to a groin injury that has denied him the chance to impress manager Eric Tene. Hack. As a result of his fitness issues and loss of form, Mount is out of the England squad for the rest of 2023.
Acton: Anthony 'simply not good enough' for Manchester United
Mark Ogden explains why Man United forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony should be in his most disappointing XI.
Anthony, Manchester United
So far this season, Anthony has registered no goals and no assists for Manchester United, and signing an £85million transfer from Ajax in August 2022 has proved to be a costly mistake.
A stunning goal in February's Europa League win over Barcelona showed Anthony has more to offer, but he has only managed two goals and two assists in the Premier League.
The Brazil international is also a foot and a pace away, and it's hard to see how he can make 2024 better than 2023 at United.
Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
Rashford scored 14 goals in his first 16 games of 2023 and helped Manchester United end a six-year trophy drought with a 2-0 Carabao Cup final win over Newcastle.
But since that hot streak in January and February, the 26-year-old has had a nightmare year and United lost his starting spot as a result. Since helping United win the Carabao Cup, Rashford has scored just eight goals in 40 appearances for the club heading into the Christmas campaign.
Michael Mudryk, Chelsea
Like Fernandes and Gugurella, Mudric is paying a price to join Chelsea at a fee far above his true worth.
The Ukraine winger spent much of January promoting a move to Arsenal, but Chelsea came in late with an offer of £88m, which Shakhtar Donetsk could not refuse.
Mudryk has since cut a depressed figure for most of his time at Chelsea, but perhaps his late equalizer in this month's Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Newcastle could be the spark that finally ignites life at Stamford Bridge.
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