Venezuelan international right-back Ronald Hernandez is expected to complete a permanent move from Aberdeen to Major League Soccer (MLS) side Atlanta United in the coming days.
An £850,000 signing from Norway’s Stabaek, the Dons defender had already been on loan at their strategic partners Atlanta in 2021, having failed to settle or make an impact at Pittodrie.
Although early-career experiences – which included a Copa America semi-final – promised so much when Hernandez arrived out of the blue in January 2020, he will leave the Reds having made just six appearances for the club.
The 24-year-old has played just 221 minutes of football for Aberdeen, which – given the transfer fee – works out at £3,846 a minute.
That’s a lot – and, suffice to say, things haven’t worked out as many Dons fans would have hoped.
Over Aberdeen’s history there have been other examples of pricey transfers where the player then hasn’t gone on to play many games. We’ve listed a few.
Although none quite rival Hernandez in terms of fee paid to games played, all managed less minutes than the club would’ve wanted for their investment.
Hicham Zerouali (1999 to 2002, £450,000 from FUS Rabat)
23 starts, with an additional 25 sub appearances
The only example in this list of a player who used the limited amount of games they managed to make a big impression.
Cult icon “Zero” only made 23 starts in his three seasons at Pittodrie – between 1999 and 2002 – which says a lot about the level of impact he was able to make, despite his short time on the field.
He netted 13 goals in just 23 starts (48 total appearances) for Ebbe Skovdahl’s side.
Among his strikes were two sensational goals at Rugby Park in consecutive campaigns, one flicked in, the other skelped in via the crossbar. The long-range howitzer was a trademark.
The late Moroccan Magician’s flair was such that he brought joy to many a fan, young and old, and is still fondly talked about by fans to this day. It was just a shame serious injury robbed the supporters of more opportunities to see him in action.
Most would say he was a successful signing, including the author, however, £450,000 is undeniably a lot of money to pay for a player to make 23 starts in two-and-a-bit years.
Jim Hamilton (1999 to 2000, £300,000 striker from Hearts)
15 appearances (10 starts)
Former Keith player Hamilton was a one-goal-per-two-games striker at Hearts before the Dons paid £300,000 for him in 1999.
However, the Granite City native would make just six starts in his first season, and four in his second (and final) campaign with Aberdeen, racking up just 15 appearances overall and scoring a solitary goal.
Subsequent spells at the likes of Dundee United (who bought Hamilton from the Dons for £150,000), Motherwell and Dunfermline were more productive.
Nigel Pepper (1998 to 2000, £300,000 from Bradford)
Also made just 15 appearances (12 starts)
Central midfielder Pepper was another pricey player to make just 15 appearances for Aberdeen after joining during Alex Miller’s tenure.
The Englishman’s issue was he just couldn’t stay on the field, getting sent off three times – despite only making 12 Reds starts.
Remarkably, Pepper received his first two red cards in his first six minutes and 17 seconds of action for the Dons.
His first red came six minutes into his debut, after he’d been sent on as a substitute, with his next red arriving 17 seconds after he came off the bench having returned from suspension.
Chris Forrester (2018 to 2019, £200,000 from Peterborough)
One start, plus seven substitute appearances
Irishman Forrester joined Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen on a three-year deal after playing more than 100 games for Peterborough – where he’d captained the side – and having played more than 100 games for St Patrick’s Athletic in his homeland before that.
However, the versatile midfielder wasn’t able to settle in the north-east due to having “a lot to contend with in his personal life”, and only managed one start for the club.
He was allowed to depart by mutual agreement, and has since returned to St Pat’s, becoming a regular there once more.
Tommy Wright (2008 to 2010, £100,000 from Darlington)
Six starts (22 total appearances)
Wright was at Pittodrie under Jimmy Calderwood and then Mark McGhee – with the £100,000 spent a decent outlay for Aberdeen during that period.
He arrived with pedigree, having played for England at the 2003 Under-20 World Cup and also for Leicester in the English top flight earlier in his career, however, fitness issues limited him to six starts in his first season – although he came off the bench 13 times and managed to score twice.
Wright memorably tried to headbutt Motherwell’s Stephen Craigan on his debut.
In his second season, once McGhee came in, Wright only managed three substitute appearances and his deal was subsequently terminated.
Jamie McQuilken (2003 to 2004, £60,000 from Falkirk)
Eight appearances, all starts
Ok, £60,000 isn’t too much of a spend, given some of the numbers above…
Left-back McQuilken joined Steve Patterson’s Aberdeen after five years at Falkirk, where he had made 157 appearances. He would only manage eight with the Dons over a six-month spell.
Another to have his contract terminated by mutual agreement, McQuilken would then move on to St Johnstone.
Excited by the return of Northern Goal after its festive hibernation, I pitched Regan Charles-Cook (again), Lawrence Shankland and Shaun Rooney as potential January additions at Pittodrie.
— Ryan Cryle (@RyanCryle) January 13, 2022