Guardiola’s 11 most expensive Barca sales & how they fared after leaving
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side are regarded as one of the best club sides of all time – but the manager still had to be ruthless with his squad.
Barca won three league titles and two Champions Leagues during Guardiola’s reign at the club but such success meant many players failed to meet his high standards.
We’ve looked at the 11 most expensive outgoings during Guardiola’s time at Barcelona to see how they fared after leaving Camp Nou.
Maxwell signed from Inter Milan in 2009 but failed to hold down a regular place in Guardiola’s starting line-up and was sold to PSG for a bargain £2.9million in 2012.
The defender made over 200 appearances and won 14 major trophies during his four and a half years in France before retiring in 2017 as the most decorated player in the game (a record he no longer holds).
He has remained with PSG post-retirement and now works as assistant sporting director to his Brazilian compatriot Leonardo.
Jeffren came through the youth ranks at Barcelona but was on the fringes of the first team and made just 33 appearances under Guardiola.
The forward was sold to Sporting Lisbon for £3.1million in 2011 but only spent two and a half years in Portugal before returning to the Spanish top flight with Real Valladolid.
Jeffren recently signed for Thai club Lamphun Warrior, his eighth club since leaving Barcelona.
9. Giovani dos Santos
Dos Santos was a highly rated prospect but found opportunities limited in a Barcelona team blessed with an abundance of attacking talent.
The Mexican was deemed surplus to requirements by Guardiola and was sold to Tottenham for £4.7million in 2008.
He failed to establish himself at White Hart Lane and even had a loan spell at Ipswich Town in the Championship before being sold to Real Mallorca.
After a year at Mallorca, he had spells at Villarreal and LA Galaxy, and the 32-year-old is said to be contemplating his retirement after leaving Mexican side Club America last year.
This Giovani Dos Santos goal from the 2011 Gold Cup needs to be talked about more often. pic.twitter.com/Z19X0vFE2x
— Ball Street (@BallStreet) June 28, 2019
8. Gianluca Zambrotta
The full-back was a regular at Barcelona but was sold to AC Milan for £7.1million in 2008 to make way for Dani Alves, who had just been signed from Sevilla.
Zambrotta made 102 appearances for Milan during his four years at the club, winning Serie A in 2011. After being released, he joined Swiss club Chiasso but retired in 2014 to focus on a coaching career.
Guardiola started a ruthless overhaul of the squad after taking over from Frank Rijkaard in 2008, and Deco was among the players culled, offloaded to Chelsea for £8million.
“Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk,” Alexander Hleb told V OKA TV in 2019. “That’s why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi.”
The midfielder may have been past his best at Stamford Bridge but still produced several moments of magic and helped the Blues win the Double in 2009-10.
Deco left the club at the end of that season and returned to Brazil with Fluminense before announcing his retirement in 2013.
10 years ago today, Deco pulled this out of the bag on his Chelsea debut! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/wMtmhGQo3x
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 17, 2018
Bojan was tipped to be the next big thing after scoring 900 goals for Barcelona’s youth teams and making his first-team debut at 17 in 2007.
The forward was compared with Lionel Messi but struggled to deal with the pressure and later admitted that he had anxiety problems during his time at the club.
“Anxiety affects everyone differently. I spoke to someone who felt like their heart was beating 1,000 times a minute,” Bojan told the Guardian in 2018.
“With me, it was a dizziness, feeling sick, constant, 24 hours a day. There was a pressure [in my head], powerful, never going away. I started to feel this powerful dizziness, overwhelmed, panicked.”
Bojan moved to Roma in 2011 for £10.5million in search of regular first-team action before returning to Barcelona two years later.
The 31-year-old was sold again in 2014 and is currently playing alongside Andres Iniesta for Japanese side Vissel Kobe.
5. Dmytro Chygrynskiy
Chygrynskiy’s performances for Shakhtar Donetsk had impressed Guardiola, and Barcelona spent £20million on the Ukrainian in 2009.
The defender is considered one of Guardiola’s worst-ever signings, making just 12 La Liga appearances in his only campaign with the club.
Chygrynskiy was sold back to Shakhtar Donetsk for £12.5million in 2010 and won a further two league titles with Shakhtar before leaving the club by mutual consent in 2015. Now 35, he’s still going at Super League Greece club Ionikos after five successful years with AEK Athens.
4. Samuel Eto’o
Eto’o wasn’t part of Guardiola’s plans at Barcelona, but the forward decided to fight for his future and refused to leave the Spanish club.
Despite scoring 36 goals in 2008-09, including the opener in the Champions League final, Eto’o was valued at £16.6million and was used as part of a swap deal to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“[As for Guardiola] I love him as a coach, but not as a person. I learned to play football with him. I interpreted him better than anyone,” Eto’o said in 2019.
The striker got his revenge though, knocking Barca out of the Champions League before winning the treble with Inter Milan in 2009-10.
Eto’o joined Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 and had spells with Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC before hanging up his boots in 2019. He now works as the president of the Cameroonian FA.
🎁🎂 @setoo9 🎂🎁
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 10, 2019
Ronaldinho was the main man at Barcelona before Lionel Messi broke through into the first team and was recognised as the best player in the world by winning the Ballon d’Or in 2005.
However, Guardiola didn’t care about reputations and the Brazilian was one of the first players to be shown the door amid worries about his attitude off the pitch.
The forward was sold to AC Milan for £16.7million and his first two seasons in Italy reaped 20 league goals, but he eventually lost his place in the team.
Ronaldinho was heavily criticised for his partying lifestyle and poor fitness levels in Milan and returned to Brazil with Flamengo in 2011 before retiring seven years later.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic was brought to Barcelona by Guardiola in 2009, but the pair didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye and their relationship completely deteriorated after a defeat to Inter Milan in 2010.
“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it,” Ibrahimovic wrote in his 2013 autobiography.
“I thought, ‘There is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’ I yelled, ‘You haven’t got any balls!’ and worse than that I added, ‘You can go to hell!’
“I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward.”
Ibrahimovic moved to AC Milan on loan and won the Serie A title in 2011 before joining on a permanent deal for £20million.
After successful spells at PSG, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, the 40-year-old now finds himself back at Milan. Still lifting leaguen titles into his fourth decade as a professional.
1. Yaya Toure
Toure didn’t have a great relationship with Guardiola and was sold to Manchester City for £24million in 2010 to help raise some much-needed funds.
“Whenever I asked him something, he always gave strange answers,” Toure told ONA FM in 2014.
“He pretty much ignored me until City’s offer came in. That’s why I eventually opted to leave. I didn’t speak to Guardiola for a year. If he had talked to me, I would have stayed at Barcelona. However, he had no faith in me.”
The Ivory Coast international became a talismanic presence in midfield for City but was awkwardly reunited with Guardiola at the Etihad in 2016.
Guardiola sold Toure for a second time two years later, and he was most recently playing for Qingdao Huanghai in the Chinese Super League. He retired in 2019.