In the past few years, Barcelona has been notoriously bad at bringing in new players. They wasted a lot of money on players who weren’t good enough or fit enough, which put the club in a serious debt crisis.
The situation got so bad that players on the current team had to take pay cuts, and Lionel Messi had to leave the club for free.
Even though the club is poorly run, Barcelona has made some big sales over the years. Other European powerhouses paid top dollar for some of the club’s best players, and the players who left have had varying degrees of success.
Here’s how their 10 most valuable players did at their new clubs after they left.
Mina was bought from Palmeiras in Brazil in January 2018 and then sold to Everton for £30 million after just five games in six months. This was a rare good deal for Barcelona.
In his 92 games for the Toffees, the Colombian powerhouse defender has had his ups and downs, but he has scored seven goals and is useful on set pieces.
Everton seemed to decide to buy him after he scored against England in the World Cup, and Barcelona made a lot of money off of that deal.
- Nelson Semedo
When the Portugal defender moved from Benfica to Barcelona in July 2017 for about £25 million and add-ons, there was a lot of buzz about him. However, he didn’t live up to the hype at the Nou Camp.
Semedo was a fast right back, but he was often a liability for the Blaugrana at the back. His worst moment came when Alfonso Davies tore him to pieces in an 8-2 loss by Bayern Munich to Barcelona.
Part of how he got over being embarrassed was to leave the club. He joined Wolves later that summer for around £30 million plus extras, so Barcelona made money and he could start over.
Semedo has done fine since he moved to England. We can’t forget this, though. Ever.
- Cesc Fabregas
Barcelona put in a lot of work to get their former academy player back from Arsenal, and it cost them about £35 million to do so in 2011.
But Fabregas couldn’t get back to his old form, which had made him one of England’s best players. Even though Barcelona was his childhood team, it was decided that he would be sold in 2014.
Arsene Wenger had a chance to go back to Arsenal, but he turned it down. Fabregas did go back to London, but he joined Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team for £32 million, which broke the hearts of a lot of Arsenal fans.
The Spaniard was a big hit in West London, where he won two Premier League titles in four and a half years. In 198 games, he scored 22 goals and set up 57 others for Chelsea, where he played for four and a half years.
His debut went pretty well…
In 2019, Cillessen moved to Valencia for £35 million, but it was really just a straight swap with Brazilian goalkeeper Neto going the other way.
The former Dutch number one goalkeeper started out well at Mestalla, but he soon lost his spot to Giorgi Mamardashvili and Jaume Domenech after a bad streak. He now plays for NEC Nijmegen in the Eredivisie.
Neto, who is now at Bournemouth, was a pretty reliable backup for Marc-Andre Ter Stegen at Barcelona, but this was a strange deal done to balance the books. Obviously, it didn’t work.
The young Brazilian was a highly rated and tricky winger at Bordeaux. Many European clubs wanted him, but he chose to sign with Roma in 2018.
The deal was so close that Roma fans were waiting for him at the airport, but he never showed up. Barcelona took over the deal at the last minute, so he went to Spain instead.
But even though they went to such great lengths to sign him, Malcom only stayed at the club for six months after signing for £39 million. He then moved to Zenit St. Petersburg for the same amount after just 24 games and four goals.
Even though he scored two goals against Real Madrid and Inter Milan, he didn’t do much else in his short time there.
The 25-year-old has done pretty well in Russia, scoring 16 goals in 75 games and helping Zenit win the title three years in a row.
Many people were shocked when Barcelona paid a huge £40 million to bring the Brazilian midfielder back to England from Guangzhou Evergrande in China. He had been a complete failure at Tottenham Hotspur.
Paulinho did surprisingly well at Barcelona, scoring nine goals in 49 games. After just one year, he went back to Guangzhou for the same price that Barcelona paid for him.
Not at all fishy…
- Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez was a great young star at Udinese when Barcelona paid £25 million for him in 2011, but he never got a spot in the starting lineup.
Sanchez had a number of great games, including a stunning goal in El Clasico, but when Luis Suarez joined the team, he decided to leave. In 2014, he joined Arsenal for about £40 million.
The Chilean forward was amazing at Arsenal, where he played for three and a half years and scored 80 goals. He then moved to Manchester United in one of the worst trades ever, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way.
Alexis’s performance quickly went downhill, and he was a disaster at Old Trafford, where he only scored five goals in 45 games before moving to Inter Milan.
Now that he is 33, he remembers his time at Barcelona and Arsenal with the most fondness. He even said that he wanted to go back to Arsenal just days after joining Manchester United.
Sanchez said in a September 2020 Instagram video, “After the first training session, I realized many things. I went home and asked my family and my manager if I couldn’t break the contract and go back to Arsenal because something didn’t fit me, but I had already signed.”
“Months went by, but I still felt the same. We weren’t working as a team back then.”
He’s having a bit of a comeback at Marseille, but he’ll never be as good as he was in his prime.
- Luis Figo
The Portuguese superstar was loved at Barcelona, but he joined Real Madrid, which was one of the most shocking moves ever.
Figo became a Galactico for a world record fee of around £60 million in 2000. He won a Ballon d’Or, two La Liga titles, and the Champions League before moving to Inter Milan in 2005. He was definitely worth the money.
Real Madrid’s Luis Figo
In a deal that was similar to the Jasper Cillessen trade, Arthur Melo will join Juventus in 2020 for about £72 million, and Miralem Pjanic will leave.
At first, it seemed strange to trade a highly-rated 24-year-old for a 31-year-old, and it became even stranger when Pjanic barely played for Barcelona.
Since he moved to Juventus, Arthur hasn’t had the best time there. They were happy to send him on loan to Liverpool, where it will be interesting to see if he can reach the potential he showed in Brazil and in his early games at Barcelona.
A baffling sale for all involved.
Neymar joined PSG in 2017 after they paid his £198 million release clause. This was the biggest sale in the history of football, and it may not be topped for a while.
Barcelona was shocked to lose a star like Neymar in such a way, but even though they got a lot of money for him, they didn’t spend it very well. They tried to replace his quality with Antoine Griezmann, Phillippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembele, but they weren’t as good as Neymar.
Neymar, on the other hand, has been hurt a lot since leaving Barcelona and moving to France. He is now 30 years old and has not won another Champions League title since leaving Barcelona.
Many people say that Neymar’s best days were in Spain, but in a new PSG team with Lionel Messi, he will be eager to win the Champions League again.
He’s still insanely good, though, and he looks like he’s hungry for the World Cup in a couple of months. So far this season, he may be the best player in Europe. In five Ligue 1 games, he has scored seven goals and set up six others.