Barcelona‘s La Masia academy has churned out some of the best footballing talents the world has ever seen. Legends of the game including Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi are all graduates of the famed Catalan institution.
However, the tide has shifted in recent years. Barcelona seem to rely more on expensive and extravagant transfers over younger prospects from their esteemed academy.
Since Barcelona are usually one of two clubs with the most revenue generated in a calendar year, signing high-priced players shouldn’t concern the Spanish giants. But the Blaugrana are now drowning in an ocean of debt, having accumulated dues that surpass the billion-dollar mark. Poor financial decisions and mismanagement of the club under former president Josep Bartomeu’s regime have been at the helm of this quandary.
Big-money Barcelona transfers that worked
Having signed overpriced players on bloated wages, Barca still managed to pull off a coup in the case of certain players. The €75m transfer of Frenkie de Jong in 2019 has proved to be a stroke of genius, with the Dutch midfielder becoming a main-stay in Barcelona’s midfield. Another smart piece of business conducted by the Blaugrana was the €5m acquisition of a teenage Pedri, who transcended the 50 appearances checkpoint in just one season at the Camp Nou. The likes of Sergino Dest and Memphis Depay have also come in on relatively cheap deals.
Furthermore, the summer signings of the 14/15 season have helped shape the modern-day Barcelona side. That window witnessed the arrivals of Claudio Bravo, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-André ter Stegen, and Luis Suarez at the club.
Keeping that in mind, here we take a look at 10 transfers that have tarnished the legacy of transfer dealings at Barca.
#10 Douglas Santos
A relatively unknown player, Douglas Santos was contracted to Barcelona for years, only leaving the club in 2019. Following a series of loan moves, Besiktas signed the Brazilian on a free transfer.
The 30-year-old right-back was signed in 2014 to deputize for Dani Alves. However, after less than 10 games with the club, Douglas was demoted to third choice due to his abysmal performances. He was subsequently sent out on three consecutive loans, deeming him one of the worst transfers in Barcelona’s history.
#9 Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen, at the ripe old age of 35, enjoyed a decent Euro 2020 campaign with Belgium, making five appearances for the team. The veteran defender is currently plying his trade in Japan with Vissel Kobe.
Brought in 2014 following club legend Carles Puyol’s retirement at the end of the 13/14 campaign, Vermaelen’s career has always been plagued with injuries. The former Arsenal captain was signed for a fee of €17.5m to provide some much needed depth in the defensive department.
However, signing a player with Vermaelen’s fitness to be a squad member was a blunder on Barcelona’s part. His constant injury problems rendered the objective of the transfer kaput.
#8 Matheus Fernandes
This was one of the most unnecessary transfers in footballing history. The purchase of Matheus Fernandes for a fee amounting up to €10m from Palmeiras has turned out to be a disaster for all parties involved. Less than 12 months after joining, his contract was terminated by Barcelona in an attempt to balance the books.
The 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder only played a paltry 17 minutes for the club, appearing as a substitute against Dynamo Kyiv in the 2020-21 season. Now back in Brazil with Palmeiras, Fernandes is reportedly looking to take his former employers to court on the grounds of an unfair dismissal.