Barcelona’s 10 Maddest Signings of the 21st Century

Updated: 20/2/2020

When you hear the name ‘Barcelona’ you probably envision Lionel Messi cavorting across the hallowed turf of Camp Nou, with a host of other exceptionally talented players like Ronaldinho and Xavi.

Certainly, the Catalan giants have had an incredible number of talented stars wear the iconic blaugrana shirt. However, in recent times the Catalan giants have also been partial to the odd baffling transfer. 

With last year’s extraordinary loan for 31-year-old journeyman Kevin Prince-Boateng only just starting to fade from memory, Barcelona have once again outdone themselves with the emergency signing of former Middlesbrough misfit Martin Braithwaite. 

Here are ten of the most bonkers Barcelona signings in the 21st century so far…

10. André Gomes – Valencia (€35m + Add-Ons)

Andre Gomes

On paper it made total sense: Technically gifted, having spent two fine spells with Benfica and Valencia respectively, the stage was set for André Gomes to step into Iniesta’s shoes.

Unfortunately for the Portugal international, things didn’t work out, and he only managed to provide three goals and four assists in his first two seasons with the club, before missing out on a squad spot for the 2018 World Cup.

9. Paulinho – Guangzhou Evergrande (€40m)

Paulinho Bezerra

This was certainly a baffling bit of business given the player’s spell in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur, where fans of the Lilywhites watched on incredulously as the midfielder flopped around White Hart Lane for two seasons.

In 2017, Barcelona brought him from Guangzhou Evergrande for €40m, sparking mass hilarity on social media.

However the joke was soon on us, as the Brazilian actually had a pretty solid season with the club, helping them win both the league title and the Copa del Rey before returning to China.

8. Thomas Vermaelen – Arsenal (£15m)

Thomas Vermaelen

Barcelona made several delves into the Arsenal ranks over the years, with their half-hearted purchases from the Gunners often resembling a desperate man resorting to buying their partner petrol-station flowers year upon year.

Not exactly a blockbuster signing for a blockbuster club, and the injury-riddled Belgian only made 34 La Liga appearances in four seasons.

7. Alexander Hleb – Arsenal (€17m)

Aleksander Hleb

The Belarusian ace was a key creative figure at Arsenal, and was a part of the squad that so nearly pipped Barça to the Champions League in 2006.

Moving to Catalonia in 2008, he was technically part of a treble-winning side in 2009, but only started five La Liga matches all season, and was farmed out on loan to VfL Stuttgart at the end of the campaign, before having further temporary spells with Birmingham City and VFB Wolfsburg.

6. Malcom – Bordeaux (€41m)


Given that Barcelona went to the trouble of hijacking Roma’s move for Malcom, you think they’d have actually had plans to use him at some point…Apparently not.

Yep, Malcom came in for a hefty €41m in the summer of 2018, and was expected to play an important part in the club’s plans. However, the Brazilian youngster made just 24 appearances in all comps in 2018/19 (mostly cameos from the bench) and was promptly sold to Zenit St Petersburg for roughly the same fee.

5. Yerry Mina – Palmeiras (€11.8m)

Yerry Mina

Bit of a strange one for all concerned, this one.

Brought in with the intention of building for the future, Yerry Mina made just six appearances for the club, before being immediately flogged to Everton for £27m after a fine World Cup campaign.

Sure, in a business sense, it was a tasty little profit. But surely developing the player into the superstar they first saw within him would have been a more prudent approach.

4. Alex Song – Arsenal (£15m)


£15m was a hefty fee in 2012 – you wouldn’t get the lesser Longstaff’s big toe for that these days – and they already had Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Thiago, Javier Mascherano and Cesc Fàbregas covering the midfield.

Unsurprisingly, Song played a bit-part role at Barça, and ended up being used as makeshift centre-back. It didn’t work out.

The Cameroon international was loaned out to West Ham and eventually let go on a free transfer, despite having a year left on his deal.

3. Rü?tü Reçber – Free Agent

Turkish goalkeeper Rustu Recber (L) and

With flowing locks and warpaint eccentrically adorning his weatherbeaten face, what wasn’t there to love about legendary goalkeeper Rü?tü?

After spending over a decade playing football in his native Turkey, the maverick showstopper spurned a host of advances from a number of top European sides, before eventually agreeing to join Barcelona as a free agent.

However, then-manager Frank Rijkaard threw an almighty spanner in the works, claiming he wouldn’t start Rü?tü as he couldn’t speak Spanish and gave Victor Valdes the nod instead.

Rü?tü left the Camp Nou after just one season, and spent the remainder of his career back in the Turkish top tier.

2. Dmytro Chygrynskiy – Shakhtar Donetsk (€25m)

Barcelona's new signing Ukranian Dmytro

Back in 2009, fresh off the back of winning a mighty treble, Barcelona decided it might be a bit of fun to bring in Ukrainian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy for €25m – which was an awful lot of money for a centre back in those days.

The shaggy-haired Shakhtar star failed to live up to his sizeable price tag, and ended up making just 12 league appearances before being swiftly shipped back to his former club – with Barça making a £10m loss and being left red in the face by the whole experience.

1. Kevin-Prince Boateng – Sassuolo (Loan)

Kevin-Prince Boateng

After mooted interest in Carlos Vela, Olivier Giroud and Cristhian Stuani to add depth to their attacking ranks, Barça settled on former Pompey star Boateng, who last hit 10 in a single campaign while at Las Palmas in 2016/17.

The Ghana international, who has scored fewer than 50 league goals in his 15-year career, was brought in to serve as backup to Luis Suarez for the second half of the 2018/19 campaign.

He made four appearances in total and scored zero goals. Funnily enough, his purchase option was not exercised.