zlatan ibrahimovic

Six big money Barcelona transfers that flopped badly

Phillipe Coutinho’s season-long loan move to Bayern Munich has brought an end to a disappointing 18-month spell at Barcelona, the former Liverpool star having struggled to establish himself in Spain since his £142m move in January 2018.

The Brazilian playmaker is not the only big-money signing to have failed to adapt to life in Catalonia, with a series of other high-profile additions having flopped since moving to the Nou Camp.


Here are six big money Barcelona signings that flopped badly…


Barcelona pipped the likes of Arsenal and Juventus to the €18m signing of the Brazilian in the summer of 2001, with hopes he could follow in the footsteps of compatriots such as Romario, Ronaldo, and Rivaldo in becoming icons at the Nou Camp.

The move didn’t quite work out as hoped, the attacking midfielder never convinced and struggled to make a first-team impression. After just 26 league appearances in two seasons, he was loaned to Benfica, eventually joining the Portuguese side on a free transfer in 2003.

He returned to Brazil with Cruzeiro in 2006, before later having spells in the Premier League with Manchester City and Hull.

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Javier Saviola

One of several promising Argentine talents to be labelled as the ‘new Maradona’, a perhaps harsh inclusion but Saviola never really justified his lofty price-tag over the course of his Barcelona career.

The diminutive forward arrived with a big reputation for a fee of €36m in 2001, and despite possessing a decent scoring record he never truly established himself as a key figure.

He fell out-of-favour after three seasons at the Nou Camp, spending time on loan at both Monaco and Sevilla before being allowed to leave for arch-rivals Real Madrid on a free transfer in 2007.

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Dmytro Chygrynskiy

The worst signing of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career?

The current Manchester City manager has done an awful lot right during his time in management, but the signing of Ukrainian defender Chygrynskiy whilst at the Nou Camp is certainly one to forget.

Signed for a fee of €25m after helping Shakhtar Donetsk to the UEFA Cup in 2009, it was hoped the centre-back could prove a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol.

Those hopes were soon quashed, Chygrynskiy making just 14 error-prone performances during a single season in Spain, returning to Shakhtar a year later at a loss of €10m.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It seems 2009 was a summer of poor recruitment for Guardiola at the Nou Camp.

Having just seen his side win the treble, the Spanish giants went big in their bid to improve, offering Inter Milan a huge deal to secure the signing of enigmatic forward Ibrahimovic.

The Swede arrived with a reputation as one of Europe’s finest, the fee to sign the star a staggering €69.5m plus Samuel Eto’o. It was a deal that shocked world football, Eto’o having been a key figure in Barcelona’s recent success and regarded amongst the world’s best in his own right.

The move proved a disaster, Ibrahimovic clashing with Guardiola and after a series of spats he was farmed back to Italy on loan to AC Milan.

He would later join the Serie A side on a permanent basis, having made just 29 La Liga appearances for the club.

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Arda Turan

Having established himself as a key component of Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side, Barcelona decided to raid their La Liga rivals for the Turkish international in 2015.

Arriving in a deal which could rise to €40m, hopes were high that Turan could bolster the creative options of a Barca side which had been crowned champions of Europe for a fifth time that summer.

Turan had to wait until January 2016 for his debut due to Barca’s transfer ban, though he struggled to establish himself as regular and made just 18 La Liga appearances in each of his first two seasons at the club.

Having failed to make a single appearance in the 2017/18 campaign, he was loaned to İstanbul Başakşehir where, despite technically still being a Barcelona player, he remains.

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Phillipe Coutinho

The Brazilian had developed into one of the Premier League’s finest players during a five-year spell at Liverpool, with Barcelona keen to secure the services of the playmaker who they felt could replace Neymar and Andres Iniesta.

After a protracted transfer-saga, a club-record £142m deal was struck in January 2018 with Coutinho describing his move to the Nou Camp as a ‘dream’.

He started brightly in Spain, scoring 10 goals in his first 22 appearances over the second half of the campaign and helping his new side to a La Liga and Copa Del Rey double.

From there, however, he found himself on the periphery. His first full season saw him in and out of Ernesto Valverde’s team, whilst he was often the scapegoat for Barcelona’s poorer performances.

Anonymous during the club’s humbling Champions League exit to former club Liverpool, his days seemed numbered and he was allowed to leave for Bayern Munich on an initial loan deal this summer.

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