The worst FC Barcelona transfer signings of the 2010s
If one had to think of the most successful sides in modern football, FC Barcelona is arguably the first name that comes to mind. Spearheaded by Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, the Catalan club built a dynasty that started in the late 2000s. That dynasty is still going strong.
The Blaugrana’s success was built on a mix of great La Masia graduates and terrific signings like Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and more. For all these great signings in the 2010s, however, there also have been major failures. Here are FC Barcelona’s five worst signings of the 2010s.
In the late 2000s, Ibrahim Afellay was emerging as a hot prospect. He had become an integral part of a PSV Eindhoven that won four Eredivisie titles and the Dutchman’s star was on the rise.
Capable of playing in multiple positions owing to his accurate passing and dazzling footwork, Afellay was pursued by many top clubs in the continent. During the 2009-10 season, he made it clear that he would not sign a contract extension with PSV. Thus, FC Barcelona swept in to lure him to Camp Nou in the January transfer window.
The Catalans did not pay much for Afellay’s services – a paltry €3 million. This transfer, however, enters the list of “worst signings” because of Afellay’s wasted potential.
The Dutch player only made 35 competitive appearances for the Camp Nou outfit. His exclusion from the squad was due to multiple reasons, including injuries and competition.
Afellay fell out of favor in the team hierarchy in 2012 and was sent out on loan to FC Schalke 04. He could not grab the opportunity there as well, only managing 10 appearances in the season. The following year, he was loaned out to Olympiacos. At the Greek club, Afellay again was sub-standard, only amassing 19 appearances and scoring four goals.
The Blaugrana and Afellay parted ways in 2015, with the Dutchman joining Stoke City after his contract was not extended. He is still there, currently playing in the Championship. A steep fall from the bright lights of Camp Nou.
While Paco Alcacer might be lighting up the Bundesliga this season, his tenure at Camp Nou was a big failure.
The highly touted Spanish striker made the move from Valencia to Barcelona in 2016. In the previous season, the Spaniard had his best campaign in front of goal for Los Che, scoring 15 times in 45 games.
At Camp Nou, however, Alcacer’s appearances were restricted because of the brilliance of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. For being the fourth-choice striker, Alcacer’s €30 million price tag seemed a bit steep.
Despite showing good goal-scoring intent in limited appearances, it became clear that Alcacer would not be able to break through into the first team. In two seasons, the Spaniard made 37 competitive appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring 10 goals.
He was loaned out to Borussia Dortmund at the start of the 2018-19 season. A blistering start to his career at the Westfalenstadion saw Dortmund make his move permanent.
FC Barcelona and Arsenal have had a successful transfer history among themselves. Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry being the prime examples. The Catalans, however, have also brought in a number of duds from the North London side.
Alex Song belongs to the latter group as he endured a terrible tenure at the Catalan powerhouse. In the 2011-12 season with Arsenal, he had cemented his reputation as a strong midfielder, capable of providing assists and doing work on the defense.
For those reasons, the FC Barcelona hierarchy saw him as a good cover for club legend, Sergio Busquets. Song, however, failed on all accounts after he moved to the club in 2012.
The Cameroonian suffered a major dip in form and could never nail down a place in the first team. He was in the squad for two seasons, before being loaned out to West Ham United from 2014 to 2016. From 2012 to 2014, Song only managed 39 appearances for FC Barcelona. A clear indicator of the lack of confidence in him from the club management.
There was a lot of expectation from Andre Gomes when he signed with FC Barcelona in a €35 million deal in 2016. Following Xavi’s departure and Andres Iniesta’s ageing, the Portuguese was expected to be the next Barca midfield general.
To be fair, Gomes had the talent to do so. He was coming off a superb season at Valencia CF in 2015-16 and was hyped to become a world-beater.
Like the others in this list, Gomes too became a shadow of himself while at Camp Nou. Iniesta’s return to form, along with Ivan Rakitic and Busquets’ solid play kept Gomes out of the midfield. It further didn’t help him as he did not take the opportunities that came his way. Gomes being booed was a regular occurrence at Camp Nou.
His inability to nail down the midfield role saw him being used as a right-back by Luis Enrique. That too came with little success. In 2016-17, Spanish media outlet Marca revealed Gomes to be the worst Barcelona signing, as per a vote by fans. This revelation too made things go south for Gomes, who in fact, bravely mentioned the effect his form had on his mental health.
Gomes to Barcelona was a transfer, that unfortunately, helped neither party. The Portuguese is currently playing at Everton, on a season-long loan.
By all accounts, the most high-profile transfer dud for FC Barcelona in the 2010s, so far, has been Arda Turan.
The Turkish international had forged a glittering reputation while at Atletico Madrid, becoming a key part of Diego Simeone’s incredible side. Turan, in fact, played a major role in the La Liga triumph for Los Rojiblancos in 2013-14.
While Turan’s €34 million was agreed in the summer of 2015, he was only able to play for Barca starting January 2016. This was due to the transfer ban placed on the Blaugrana, as punishment for the discrepancy in Neymar’s move.
Turan was brought in by Luis Enrique to be Andres Iniesta’s long-term replacement. The Turk possessed the pace, playmaking and versatility to do so. His career, however, took a downward trajectory. Uninspired form, coupled with intense competition for a starting XI position and Iniesta’s re-emergence resulted in Turan being limited to substitute appearances. By consensus, he could never replicate his Atletico Madrid form for the Catalan club.
Turan is still a Barca player, but is currently on loan at Istanbul Baseksihir. Now 31, it is unlikely he’ll be a major player even if he returns to Barcelona.