Barcelona’s 10 most expensive sales and how they fared after leaving

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Neymar in action for PSG against Real Madrid in the Champions League, Parc Des Princes, February 2022

Barcelona have been notoriously bad in the transfer market in recent years, wasting a serious amount of money on unsuitable and unfit players, to the extent that the club found itself in a serious debt crisis.

The situation got so bad that members of the current squad had to take paycuts, and Lionel Messi had to depart the club for free.

In spite of the poor running of the club, Barcelona have made some big sales over the years, as other European powerhouses paid top dollar for some of the club’s top assets, and the players that departed have had varying degrees of success.

Here’s how their 10 most lucrative departures got on at their new clubs.

10. Yerry Mina

A rare bit of good business for Barcelona, Mina was bought in January 2018 from Palmeiras in Brazil, and sold for £30million to Everton after just five appearances in six months.

The Colombian powerhouse defender has been hit and miss in his 88 appearances for the Toffees, but has managed seven goals in that time, and is a useful asset on set pieces.

Everton seemingly decided to buy him after he scored against England in the World Cup, and Barcelona struck lucky with that deal to make a large profit.

9. Nelson Semedo

There was a lot of hype around the Portugal defender when he traded Lisbon for Barcelona, joining from Benfica for around £25million and addons in July 2017, but he failed to hit the heights at the Nou Camp.

A pacey right-back, Semedo was often a liability at the back for the Blaugrana, and this peaked when he was ripped to shreds by Alfonso Davies when Barcelona were decimated 8-2 by Bayern Munich.

Part of his recovery from such a humiliation was to leave the club, and joined Wolves later that summer for around £30million plus add-ons, meaning that Barcelona made a profit and he had a fresh start.

Semedo has fared perfectly well in England, and is a regular fixture in a backline that has the second-best defensive record in the League.

There’s no forgetting this though. Ever.

8. Cesc Fabregas

Barcelona went through a world of effort to bring their former academy product back from Arsenal, and eventually landed him in 2011 for around £35million.

However, Fabregas failed to hit his previous form which had seen him grow into one of the best players in England, and despite Barcelona being his boyhood team, it was decided he would be sold in 2014.

A return to Arsenal seemed on the cards, but Arsene Wenger declined. Fabregas did return to London, but joined Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea for £32million, breaking thousands of Arsenal hearts by doing so.

The Spaniard was a hit in West London, winning two Premier League titles in four and a half years, and ended his Chelsea career with 22 goals and 57 assists in 198 games.

His debut went pretty well…

7. Jasper Cillessen

Technically a £35million sale, in reality a straight swap, Cillessen joined Valencia as Brazilian goalkeeper Neto came the other way in 2019.

The former Dutch number one keeper started well at Mestalla, but soon lost his place after a bad run of form, and is now a backup to Giorgi Mamardashvili and Jaume Domenech.

Neto meanwhile, is a fairly reliable backup for Marc-Andre Ter Stegen at Barcelona, but overall this was a strange deal done to balance the books. Clearly didn’t work.

6. Malcom

A highly rated, tricky winger at Bordeaux, the young Brazilian was sought after by a lot of European clubs, but chose to sign for Roma in 2018.

The deal was so close that there were Roma fans waiting at the airport for him to arrive, but he never came. Barcelona had hijacked the deal at the last second, and he moved to Spain instead.

However, despite going through such extraordinary lengths to sign him, Malcom lasted just six months at the club after his £39million move, and joined Zenit St Petersburg for a similar fee after just 24 appearances and four goals.

Two of his goals did come against Real Madrid and Inter Milan, in fairness, but he failed to do much else in his limited time there.

The now 24-year-old has done fairly well in Russia, scoring 10 goals in 60 games, but many wonder what could have been for a player with such skill.

5. Paulinho

Once a complete flop at Tottenham Hotspur, there was much surprise when Barcelona paid a whopping £40million to bring the Brazilian midfielder back to England from Guangzhou Evergrande in China.

Paulinho did surprisingly well at Barcelona, scoring nine goals in 49 games, before returning back to Guangzhou for the same fee they paid for him after just one year.

Not fishy at all…

READ: Nine Barcelona signings who only lasted one season: Paulinho, Hleb…

4. Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez was a fantastic young star at Udinese when Barcelona paid £25million for his services in 2011, but he failed to secure a proper starting role at the club.

Despite a number of great performances, including a stunning winner in El Clasico, Sanchez decided to leave the club when Luis Suarez arrived, joining Arsenal for around £40million in 2014.

The Chilean forward was sensational in his time at Arsenal, scoring 80 goals in three and a half years, before moving to Manchester United in one of the worst swap deals of all time, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan came the other way.

Alexis declined rapidly and was a complete disaster at Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in 45 appearances, before moving to Inter Milan.

Now 33, he looks back on his times at Barcelona and Arsenal with the most fondness and even admitted that he wanted to return to Arsenal within just days of his arrival at United.

“After the first training session I realised many things, I came home and asked my family and my manager if I could not break the contract and return to Arsenal, something did not fit me, but I had already signed,” Sanchez stated in an Instagram video in September 2020.

“Months passed and I kept feeling the same. We were not united as a team at that time.”

He is starting a mini-revival at Inter Milan, but he’ll never reach the levels he once showed in his heyday.

3. Luis Figo

One of the most shocking transfers ever, the Portuguese superstar was adored at Barcelona, but committed the ultimate sin: joining Real Madrid.

Figo became a Galactico for a world record fee of around £60million in 2000, and won a Ballon D’or, two La Liga titles and the Champions League, before joining Inter Milan in 2005. Safe to say he was worth the money.

Real Madrid's Luis Figo

READ: 11 of Luis Figo’s best moments: El Clasico, Euro 2000, Ballon d’Or…

2. Arthur Melo

In a deal not too dissimilar to the Jasper Cillessen swap deal, Arthur Melo joined Juventus for around £72million in 2020, as Miralem Pjanic went the other way.

Trading a highly-rated 24-year-old for a 31-year-old was initially strange, and became even weirder as Pjanic hardly featured for Barcelona.

Arthur hasn’t had the best time at Juventus since his move, and was strongly linked with a move to the Premier League in the January window, but nothing materialised.

A baffling sale for all involved.

1. Neymar

The biggest sale made in the history of football, and one that may not be topped in a while, Neymar joined PSG in 2017 after they activated his £198million release clause.

Barcelona were stunned to have lost a star like Neymar in such a manner, but despite receiving so much money for the Brazilian, they spent it pretty badly, trying and failing to replace his quality with Antoine Griezmann, Phillippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Neymar, meanwhile, has had his fair share of injuries in France, and now 30, is yet to win another Champions League title since leaving Barcelona.

Many say his best days came in Spain, but in a new look PSG side alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar will be eager to taste European glory once again.

He’s still ridiculously good, though, and his manager Mauricio Pochettino showered him with praise last year.

“It’s so easy with Neymar because you don’t need to do too much,” Pochettino told the Guardian in April 2021.

“From day one, he’s been very open to work. He’s very humble, he listens and always accepts all the instructions in a very good way.”

“Brazilian players have something special inside. They love to play football because it’s like a dance. They play like they are dancing.”

“Ronaldinho was my team-mate when I was a PSG player and now Neymar. They need to feel good, to feel happy to perform in the best way.”

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