Aston Villa’s new sporting director: Mateu Alemany’s 19 Barcelona signings ranked
After two years as Barcelona’s Director of Football, the club have confirmed that Mateu Alemany will leave the role at the end of the season.
Alemany will depart the Camp Nou at the end of June “to begin a new professional project” – with it widely reported that he’s set to become Aston Villa’s new sporting director.
Barcelona have faced real financial difficulties over the past couple of years and Alemany has had his work cut out to rebuild the squad following the departure of the club’s all-time greatest player, Lionel Messi, back in 2021. We’ve taken a look at all 19 of his signings at Barcelona and ranked them from worst to best.
19. Ferran Torres
Six months after the departure of Messi – who was forced to leave due to the club’s financial problems – Barcelona made the eyebrow-raising decision to spend €55million (plus up to €10million in add-ons) on the young Spanish forward at Manchester City.
Torres had shown flashes in his fledgling career, particularly on the international stage with a hat-trick against Germany, but had yet to realise that potential as a reliably consistent world-beater.
It was a risky move and 18 months later we’re left questioning that price tag. There have been moments – 14 goals and eight assists in 67 appearances – but this remains a reckless and regrettable decision when funds were so scarce.
18. Sergio Aguero
The Argentinian departed the Etihad as Manchester City’s all-time top scorer in the summer of 2021.
The plan appeared to be for Aguero to link back up with his old friend Messi, but that didn’t come to fruition. The striker ended up making just five appearances for the club, scoring just once – a late consolation goal against Real Madrid – before suddenly calling time on his career at the age of 33.
Fitting that Sergio Aguero's final career goal came in El Clasico 🙌⚽️ pic.twitter.com/j1iRsQ8BHT
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 15, 2021
17. Yusuf Demir
Signed on loan from Rapid Wien, the Austrian winger made nine appearances for the club, stopping one short of a trigger for an £8.5million permanent transfer.
16. Hector Bellerin
The La Masia academy graduate terminated his contract at Arsenal on transfer deadline day last summer in order to allow him to return to his hometown club on a free transfer.
But Bellerin only made a handful of appearances for the club – including a costly 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League – and left after just five months to sign for Sporting Lisbon.
15. Adama Traore
Another local boy brought home, Traore arrived on loan from Wolves for the latter half of the 2021-22 campaign.
The winger actually exhibited some end product in his early appearances, but didn’t quite show enough for the move to be made permanent and returned to Molineux at the end of the campaign.
14. Julian Araujo
After a bit of a mess getting his move from LA Galaxy over the line in the winter window, the 21-year-old Mexico international is currently continuing his development training with Rafa Marquez’s reserve team. One to watch.
13. Marcos Alonso
As well as Bellerin, Alonso terminated his contract to depart the Premier League and return to his home country.
The dead-ball specialist, who came up through Real Madrid’s academy, has played more of a role for Barcelona than Bellerin, but still hasn’t quite established himself in Xavi’s favoured first XI.
Alonso has contributed to Barcelona’s record-breaking defensive record in 2022-23, but he also featured prominently – and was often culpable – in their dismal Champions League group stage elimination.
12. Pablo Torre
“I read somewhere that Pablo Torre has bad habits and doesn’t take care of himself – it’s all false,” says Xavi.
“He’s always involved with us and is a very loved person in the locker room. He’s a very good boy. He has competition and he’s helping us.”
Torre is highly rated by many but has only featured on the periphery of Xavi’s La Liga table-toppers this season. It remains to be seen whether the 20-year-old midfielder will break through at Barcelona or forge his path elsewhere.
11. Eric Garcia
Another free transfer, and another local academy lad brought home, Garcia has made 64 appearances since signing for the club in 2021.
The 22-year-old hasn’t been a disaster, and for a squad filler that signed for no fee he does a job, but he hasn’t flourished into a top-quality centre-back. Gerard Pique he ain’t.
10. Dani Alves
Fulfilled his role as a returning veteran for his brief second stint.
9. Luuk de Jong
Received plenty of stick and never looked a natural fit as the spearhead of a side playing tiki-taka, but scored some important goals and his physical presence occasionally came in handy as Xavi turned around Barcelona’s fortunes in 2021-22.
A successful enough loan.
8. Emerson Royal
A weird one. Emerson only made three appearances for the club and was sold to Tottenham the same summer in which he was permanently signed from Real Betis.
But they made a decent little profit in doing so. Harry Redknapp would’ve been proud of that kind of wheeler-dealing.
7. Franck Kessie
The Ivory Coast international playing a starring role in AC Milan’s Scudetto last term and left the San Siro when his contract expired.
It was quite the coup for Barcelona to secure Kessie on a free transfer, but he hasn’t found himself in Xavi’s favoured midfield and has played more of a squad role in his debut campaign, prompting rumours he could move on in the summer.
Still a handy player and scored an injury-time winner against Real Madrid. If nothing else, he’ll always have that – the goal that effectively wrapped up Barcelona’s title.
“I scored a Clasico goal in front of 95,000 people today. It’s not easy to explain what I feel. It’s amazing. I don’t think I believe it,” Kessie told BeIN Sports.
FRANCK KESSIÉ! 👏🇨🇮
It's a first LaLiga goal for the Ivorian and what a time to get it 🔵🔴
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) March 19, 2023
6. Memphis Depay
Brought in on a free transfer – are you sensing a theme here? – Depay finished as Barcelona’s joint top-scorer in his one and only full season at the club.
He fell down the pecking order in the 2022-23 season and was sold to Atletico Madrid for a small €4million profit. The Netherlands international didn’t set the world alight during his 18 months at the Camp Nou but he was reasonably successful.
Former Barcelona man Deco represents Raphinha and helped broker the deal to move the Brazil international away from Leeds United last summer.
Raphinha has been the most expensive of all Alemany’s signings at €55million and hasn’t always convinced. He’s faced some criticism, but his record of seven goals and six assists in 31 La Liga appearances isn’t bad – he’s played his part in Barcelona’s imminent league title and at the age of 26 retains some considerable resale value.
A return to the Premier League has been strongly rumoured – with Newcastle top of the queue – and Barcelona are likely to make a profit if they do move him on. Can’t argue with that.
4. Jules Kounde
Barcelona pulled a number of convoluted economic manoeuvres during the summer of 2022 to reshape Xavi’s squad and Kounde was among their marquee signings.
Signed for a fee in the region of €50million, Barcelona secured the services of a player that proved himself one of the best defenders in Spain – if not the world – whilst at Sevilla.
The France international has had to adapt to feature at right-back for the most part, as opposed to his preferred role in the centre of defence, which has arguably robbed us of seeing him at his very best.
But he’s knuckled down and done the job required competently – a key part of a backline well on track to break all kinds of records for fewest goals conceded.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang has been nothing short of a disaster at Chelsea, as underlined by his entirely anonymous return to former club Arsenal.
But the striker’s twilight years haven’t been entirely miserable. In fact, he was kind of brilliant during his half-season stint at Barcelona, notching 11 La Liga goals and ending up tied with Depay as their top scorer in 2021-22.
Not only did he do well, but Barcelona made a decent profit, having signed him as a free agent before offloading him to Stamford Bridge six months later for €12million. Alemany played a blinder there.
Is there a greater honour for a Barcelona player than to be booed off at the Bernabeu while winning 4-0? 😂
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) March 20, 2022
2. Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski could have broken Gerd Muller’s legendary Bundesliga goalscoring record had he stayed around at Bayern Munich, but he was keen to try a new challenge at Barcelona.
One of the most prolific strikers of his generation, the club’s biggest-name addition of the post-Messi era lived up to the hype in his early months with the club. His form has tailed off considerably since the World Cup, but his 13 goals in the first half of the season fired Barcelona well on their way to their first La Liga title in four years.
You can’t argue with that kind of short-term impact. But Barcelona can’t afford for Lewandowski to slow down just yet, given they paid a €50million fee for the 34-year-old’s services and he remains contracted until 2026.
1. Andreas Christensen
By no means the flashiest name or the signing that invited the most fanfare, Christensen arrived on a free transfer and has been nothing short of exceptional.
Xavi’s side are on track to end the 2022-23 campaign having conceded fewer goals than any side in any European season in history and the Denmark international – alongside Ronald Araujo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen – has played a major role in that.
Reports have suggested that the club might look to cash in on the defender amid their financial woes. They’d make a considerable profit were they to do so.