Ranking Barcelona’s past 10 summer transfer windows from worst to best
Let’s not beat around the bush: Barcelona are in an almighty economic pickle and a lot of that is down to their dealings in the transfer market over the past decade.
They have spent too much on fees and even more on wages, digging themselves into a financial hole from which they are now trying to escape.
But not all their recent dealings in the market have been disastrous, so it is worth looking at how each of the last 10 summers shape up when they are compared side by side. We have ranked each of Barca’s summer windows since 2012 from worst to best.
With creditors circling around Barcelona like (loan) sharks around a bleeding seal this summer, there was no money to go out and spend big.
Still, they managed to find some decent additions on free transfers, including Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, who both arrived from Manchester City, and Memphis Depay, who is already proving himself at Camp Nou.
None of that, however, makes up for a gaping hole that has been left in Catalan hearts. This summer will forever be remembered as the one in which Lionel Messi departed – and not only departed, but did so on a free to PSG.
Barca fans are still mourning and for good reason. Messi had long managed to drag Barcelona along, winning titles almost single-handedly with the dozens of goals he scored and assisted each season.
Oh, and just to make things worse, Barca had to sell a couple of others on the cheap who they’d rather have kept. Ilaix Moriba went to RB Leipzig for an initial €16million and Emerson went to Spurs for €25million. Disaster.
Selling a footballer for €222m can hardly be classed as terrible business, whoever that footballer is. But there is no doubt that Barca would have preferred Neymar to stay. His move to PSG, in hindsight, also marked something of a shift in the football world order.
The worst thing, though, was how Barca went out and invested that cash, including splashing €105million on Ousmane Dembele and €30million on Nelson Semedo.
The only thing to say in this window’s favour is: at least Barca didn’t get the Philippe Coutinho deal over the line until the following January.
Barcelona spent a combined €90million on Andre Gomes, Paco Alcacer and Samuel Umtiti in the summer of 2016. They also let Dani Alves go on a free.
With the sales of Gerard Deulofeu, Denis Suarez, Adama Traore and Pedro, Barcelona didn’t actually make a loss on transfers, but the money they spent, they spent very unwisely indeed.
Ladies and gentlemen, may we present you: Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan.
Vidal played just 30 league games over three years in Catalonia, while Turan was loaned out to Istanbul Basaksehir after two seasons and ended up getting a two-year-and-eight-month suspended prison sentence for firing a gun into the floor of an Istanbul hospital.
Despite those crap deals, Barcelona still won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Club World Cup as Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scored a combined 131 goals in the season.
This one was difficult to rank.
On the one hand, Barca managed to recoup the €30million they spent on Semedo and brought in Pedri for €5million, which may eventually go down as the bargain of the century.
On the other, they brought in Miralem Pjanic for €60million in a weird deal with Juventus that involved Arthur going the other way for a similarly inflated sum and let Luis Suarez go… for free… to rivals Atletico… who beat Barca to the title thanks for goals scored by Luis Suarez. D’oh.
Again, a balancing act. Barcelona received a total of €100million for Andre Gomes, Jasper Cillesen and Malcom, recouping more than they spent on the trio.
The Spanish giants also brought in Frenkie de Jong, who, with Pedri, could boss their midfield for a decade.
Then again, they spent €120million on Antoine Griezmann and look how that turned out.
The two Brazilians signed in the summer of 2018 – Arthur and Malcom – did not live up to their billing.
But in Clement Lenglet Barca recruited an integral part of the current squad who has already made over 130 appearances for the club and, in Arturo Vidal, they got a very competent, if not universally popular, midfielder on a free.
They also managed to turn an €18million profit on Yerry Mina after he’d played just six times for the club. More fool Everton.
That this summer comes third says a lot about the rest.
Seydou Keita and Henrique left, which is not all that exciting. Alex Song and Jordi Alba arrived. Song was a useful squad player for a couple of seasons, but this is really all about Alba.
The Spaniard has gone on to become a bona fide club legend, playing well over 350 games so far, winning five league titles, five Copas del Rey and a Champions League. No wonder he’s proving tough to replace.
The 2013-14 season itself was not good for Barca. They finished runners-up in La Liga and the Copa del Rey and went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.
But the arrival of Neymar was a huge statement, a turning point for the squad and, most importantly, a great big middle finger in the direction of Real Madrid, who had spent years and huge amounts of energy pursuing the Brazilian.
He might not have brought success immediately, but Neymar would prove an excellent purchase, especially when combined with the following summer’s business.
— Old Footy Clips (@OldFootyClips) July 28, 2017
Finally, that brings us to Barca’s finest window of the past decade. It was the first during the reign of president Josep Maria Bartomeu and it was absolutely no indication whatsoever of the chaos that would follow.
After Victor Valdes’ departure, in came Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo to compete for the No.1 spot, the former in particular proving a brilliant addition in the long-term. In midfield, Ivan Rakitic arrived from Sevilla to replace the outgoing Cesc Fabregas and the Croat slotted in perfectly.
The real jewel in the crown, though, was Luis Suarez. Alexis Sanchez’s €42million move to Arsenal helped raise the funds and, after some toing and froing with Liverpool, the Uruguayan was finally signed for €82million. Cheap? No. Worth every cent? Abso-bloody-lutely.
As well as his undying will to win, Suarez brought his shooting boots, going on to score 198 Barcelona goals and become the club’s third highest goalscorer of all time.
He also helped propel Barca to the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in his first campaign as part of the MSN attacking trio. Inspired stuff.