Barcelona’s exploitation of a transfer loophole has caused controversy this week, though it is their targeting of former Middlesbrough flop Martin Braithwaite that has also stolen headlines, the Spanish giants sealing a surprise emergency deal for the forward.
Whilst the Danish international’s arrival from Leganes is little more than a stop-gap due to the Catalan side’s injury concerns, it is not the first time a shock signing has arrived at the Camp Nou.
Following the announcement we’ve decided to revisit some of the weird and wonderful dealings of Barcelona’s past, here are five times Barca shocked everyone by making bizarre transfer signings:
Shakhtar Donetsk have a long history of developing top talents for some of Europe’s leading clubs, though Chygrynskiy’s shock move the Spain would prove one of their least successful exports.
The Ukrainian defender had helped the club to a wealth of honours including the 2009 UEFA Cup, though his move to Catalonia would still come as a huge surprise – even more so the huge €25m fee paid for his services.
The signing of a player unproven outside of Ukrainian football would prove to be a left-field choice, a gamble that would result in spectacular failure for the reigning European champions and Pep Guardiola.
Chygrynskiy would spend just a single disappointing season at the club, rejoining Shakhtar in a cut-price deal in 2010.
Desperately in need of defensive reinforcements, a whole host of world football’s leading centre-backs were linked with moves to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2014, only for Barcelona to settle on an uninspired signing with just one full season of experience playing as a centre-back.
Mathieu had spent the majority of his career at full-back before briefly switching to a central role at Valencia, impressing sufficiently to persuade the Barca hierarchy to strangely make the Frenchman the most expensive defender in history over the age of 30.
To his credit, Mathieu would play his part in two title-winning seasons in addition to lifting the Champions League at the end of his debut campaign, though his arrival was undoubtedly an underwhelming and unimaginative piece of business.
Paulinho would struggle to cope with the demands of European football at the highest level during a short stint in the Premier League with Tottenham, the midfielder spending just two seasons with the north London side before being deemed surplus to requirements and heading for the riches of China.
Moving to the lucrative Chinese Super League in the peak years of his career was seen as a backwards step for the Brazilian international, though to the shock of the footballing world it would act as a launch pad to the biggest move of his career.
After two seasons in the Far East, Paulinho would be subject of interest from Spain, Barcelona securing his services in a deal worth a reported €40m. Further, surprisingly still, Paulinho would impress upon his switch to La Liga, scoring nine league goals for the club – the best haul of his career at that point.
His Barcelona dream would end after just a single season, however, the midfielder returning to China with former club Guangzhou Evergrande, initially on a season-long loan before signing on a permanent basis for €42m.
Deulofeu was a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy system, though he would make just six first-team appearances before being sold having failed to make the grade.
Mixed loan spells at Everton and Sevilla would eventually see the winger join the former on a permanent basis, though after scoring just two league goals following his permanent move to Merseyside, he would fall out-of-favour and join Milan on loan.
Players unable to force their way into the Everton side are rarely targets for Europe’s biggest clubs, though Deulofeu would prove just that as Barcelona came calling in the summer of 2017, activating a buy-back clause in the winger’s contract that would see him return to the Camp Nou.
It would prove a brief return, however, Deulofeu making just ten league appearances before heading back to the Premier League with Watford.
The strangest transfer in Barcelona’s history?
The nomadic Kevin Prince-Boateng would cover most of Europe during a career in which he never truly settled, enjoying mixed spells in Germany, England, Italy and Spain before bizarrely heading to Barcelona on loan last year.
The former Ghana international had enjoyed an impressive spell in La Liga with Las Palmas, though even with that previous success his move to Catalonia came out of the blue, the versatile forward joining on a temporary deal from Sassuolo to act as a back-up to Luis Suarez following Munir El Haddadi’s move to Sevilla.
Despite making history as the first Ghanaian to represent the club, Boateng would make just four goalless appearances, Barca unsurprisingly failing to take up the option to sign the forward on a permanent basis.
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