Paulinho continues Barcelona’s trend of being weird in the transfer market
August 14, 2017
Neymar, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o – these are some of the players you think of when you think of great Barcelona transfers but for every Ballon d’Or winner, there are a few massive duds.
Whilst their El Clasico rivals Real Madrid have had their fair share of transfer question marks (see Julian Faubert and Thomas Gravesen) not too many clubs have signed players for the sake of it and got it so badly wrong as much as FC Barcelona.
Whilst the focus in Catalunya this summer is the fallout of losing one of their biggest stars in Neymar, their first major incoming of the post-Neymar Barcelona appears to Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande for €40m.
Whilst the former Spurs midfielder is in no way going to be the straight Neymar replacement, his signing is odd, to say the least.
Signed by Andre Villas-Boas for Spurs using the Gareth Bale windfall after impressing for Corinthians in native Brazil, winning both the Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup, the midfielder was a flop at White Hart Lane lasting only two seasons in North London before becoming one of the first major signings in China.
His career in China has improved, reaching double figures in both his full seasons in Asia and winning the AFC Champions League in 2015 and the Chinese Super League in 2015 and 2016 and the FA Cup in 2016.
However, the fact he struggled to prove himself at a higher level in Europe makes this transfer rather questionable for a Barcelona side that look like they could be the victim of a sustained period of domination by Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid.
Alex Song (€15m from Arsenal)
By all accounts, Song wasn’t a terrible player at Arsenal but after six years of regularly being in the wrong position in defensive midfield, the Catalan giants decided to add him to their long list of former Arsenal signings. Cesc Fabregas and Marc Overmars he wasn’t, he played just 39 La Liga games, mostly as a substitute and was loaned out to West Ham after two seasons in Spain and later moved to Rubin Kazan on a free transfer. (Image Source: Twitter)
Thomas Vermaelen (€18m from Arsenal)
Alongside Jeremy Mathieu, Vermaelen was joined as one of two replacements for the retiring Carles Puyol but it’s fair to say neither had the impact that the Spanish centre-half managed. Having lost his place in the Arsenal team (despite being club captain), Vermaelen managed just one appearance in his first season before spending the rest of it out injured and in all made just 21 appearances for Barcelona before a loan spell with Roma last season and what looks to be an inevitable departure this summer. (Image Source: Twitter)
Dmytro Chygrynskiy (€25m from Shakhtar Donetsk)
For a few years now, being a half-decent defender has been enough to catch the eye of the Barcelona scouts and that was evident with Ukrainian international Chygrynskiy. After helping Shakhtar Donetsk win the 2009 UEFA Cup, UEFA Champions League winners Barcelona came calling and Chygrynskiy was on his way (not before losing 1-0 to Barcelona in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, his last appearance for Shakhtar). After just 12 months in Catalunya and 14 appearances, he returned to Donetsk for €15m - Shakhtar essentially making a €10m profit on loaning a player for a season. (Image Source: Twitter)
Jasper Cillessen (€13m from Ajax)
With Claudio Bravo sold to Manchester City, Barcelona were in need of a new goalkeeper, whilst promoting German Marc-Andre ter Stegen to first choice and despite being undisputed first-choice for Ajax and Netherlands, Jasper Cillessen decided to trade that in to play in the Copa Del Rey. After losing his only La Liga appearance to date 2-1 to Alaves, Cillessen was a mainstay in Barca’s only trophy last season the Copa Del Rey but it still doesn’t quite explain his move to Spain to play second fiddle. (Image Source: Twitter)
Arda Turan (€34m from Atletico Madrid)
Transfer bans are curious things in football, you'd imagine that would mean you couldn’t sign players but that didn’t stop FC Barcelona signing one of their title rivals most vital players in summer 2015. Despite not making his Barcelona debut for six months as he waited until he could officially be registered, Turan has struggled to make much impact in the Barcelona team. Playing just 18 La Liga matches in each of his two seasons although he did become only the sixth Barca player to score a UEFA Champions League hat-trick when he put three past Borussia Monchengladbach. (Image Source: Twitter)
Alex Hleb (€17m from Arsenal)
One of Arsenal’s technically gifted midfielders of the mid-2000s, Hleb’s move to Spain isn’t so much of a surprise, other than not being able to shoot he had all the passing attributes the modern Barcelona look for in a player. Sadly, they already had a host of players better than him. Another one of those players that must constantly look in the mirror and ask ‘Why did you leave Arsenal?’ Hleb found himself stuck behind the likes of Xavi and Iniesta and although he won the treble in his one season at the Nou Camp, he was soon loaned out to former side Stuttgart, Birmingham City and Wolfsburg before being released in 2012. (Image Source: Twitter)
Douglas (€4m from Sao Paulo)
Having lost his place in the Sao Paulo team, not many could quite get their heads around Douglas’ signing by Barcelona. In two seasons at Barcelona he played just eight times and was slated as one of the club’s worst ever signings. Stories emerged in summer 2016 that he may be transferred to Alaves in return for the FC Barcelona basketball team receiving Adam Hanga from Laboral Kutxa (who are owned by Josea Querejeta, the owner of Deportivo Alaves). In the end he joined Sporting Gijon on a season-long loan. (Image Source: Twitter)
Of course, Barcelona have looked to do good business this summer, should they sign either Ousmane Dembele or Liverpool’s Phillippe Coutinho, whilst not instant Neymar replacements either will be decent additions to their attacks.
However, as much as their youth policy is praised, sometimes their transfer policy causes a lot of head scratching.