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Gone but not forgotten:
Adrian Bakalli
Position: Midfielder
From: RWD Molenbeek - £100,000 - January 1999
Record: Played: 0(2)
To: ??? - contract terminated - November 2000
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Mediocre

When Adrian Bakalli arrived from RWD Molenbeek in January 1999, it was not so much in a blaze of glory, more a quiet arrival from a player who never really made an impression from the day he came until the day he left.

His performances in the reserves ranged from the adequate to the quite poor, and had it not been for the cracking shot he possessed - something he seemed loathed to use before the 88th minute of games - he surely would not have lasted as long as he did. The desperate situation with injuries at the start of the 1999-2000 season briefly elevated him to the level of first team sub. But his almost comical television debut, where Taylor threw him on up front for the final sorties into the Leicester area, seemed to sum the chap up - even then, he did not really run. As for his Newcastle appearance...well, I had totally forgotten that he played, but the stats show he replaced an injured Easton just before half time!

I'm sure Adrian was a really nice guy, but he seemed to represent an appalling trend of signing mediocre foreign players cheaply, as the national transfer system spirals yet further towards explosion. While the likes of Stuart Maynard were released from the youth team without ever getting their deserved professional forms, English clubs find it easier to sign these foreign pros who have made the odd dubious appearance for their country's Under 21's. If Bakalli's stay at Watford has taught us anything, it is that these sort of signings are rarely going to work.

Pete Fincham