Ranking every player to wear No.8 for Barcelona since 1995

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Andres Iniesta playing for Barcelona.

Dani Alves is the latest player to wear Barcelona‘s No.8 – but how have the previous incumbents of the shirt fared?

Eight players have worn the jersey since La Liga introduced fixed squad numbers for the 1995-96 season and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag.

We’ve ranked every player to wear the No.8 shirt for Barcelona since then, from worst to best.

8. Miralem Pjanic

Pjanic arrived at Barcelona in the summer of 2020 with some serious pedigree, having previously played for Juventus, Roma and Lyon.

But the Bosnia and Herzegovina international struggled with injuries and was frozen out by Ronaldo Koeman, starting just six La Liga games in 2020-21. 

He took to Instagram in May 2021 and wrote: “This season leaves me with a bitter taste and questions that still need answers.”

After being usurped by teenagers Gavi and Pedri, the 31-year-old then joined Turkish side Besiktas on a season-long loan deal in September 2021. 

7. Albert Celades

Having made 36 La Liga appearances under Louis van Gaal in Barcelona’s title-winning campaign of 1997-98, Celdades was then rewarded with the No.8 shirt.

While Van Gaal’s side did retain the title in 1998-99, the defensive midfielder played a far less prominent role and started just 11 La Liga games.

He was then allowed to leave Barcelona and spent a season at Celta Vigo before joining Real Madrid in 2000.

6. Hristo Stoichkov

After Barcelona replaced Johan Cruyff with Bobby Robson in May 1996, Stoichkov decided to return to the Blaugrana and was subsequently given their No.8 shirt.

During his first spell at the Nou Camp, the forward scored 108 goals in 214 appearances in all competitions and also picked up the 1994 Ballon d’Or award.

But the former Bulgaria international was past his best by 1996 and often found himself on Barcelona’s bench, sitting behind the likes of Ronaldo, Juan Antonio Pizzi and Giovanni in the pecking order.

“He’s gone, finished in many ways,” Robson said. “He can’t run so how can he play? He’s all right for half an hour, but long-term, he’s finished.”

Stoichkov scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions in 1996-97 and returned to Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia midway through the following season.

READ: A tribute to Hristo Stoichkov at Barcelona, the Boss of the Dream Team

5. Arthur

Once dubbed the new Xavi, Arthur came through the ranks at boyhood club Gremio before completing a €31million move to Barcelona in 2018. 

The Brazil international won La Liga in his debut season and displayed glimpses of real quality, but he did not show the levels of commitment expected of a top-level professional footballer.

After partying with Neymar in Paris and sometimes appearing overweight, he was shipped off to Juventus in 2020 in a deal that involved Pjanic going the other way.

4. Guillermo Amor

A product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, Amor made his first-team debut in 1988 and became a key part of the side that won four consecutive league titles.

He wore several different numbers during his first few years in the senior team before becoming the first Barcelona player to be officially assigned the No.8 shirt ahead of the 1995-96 season.

The midfielder scored nine goals in 40 appearances in all competitions but Barcelona endured an underwhelming campaign and went trophyless for the first time since 1986-87.

Amor lost the No.8 after just one season and left the Nou Camp two years later, having made over 400 appearances for the club.

3. Ludovic Giuly

Guilly joined Barcelona from Monaco in 2004 and immediately became part of a fearsome front three alongside Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o.

The winger scored a combined 20 goals in his first two seasons, helping the Catalan giants win back-to-back La Liga titles and a Champions League crown.

But he began to feature less and less following Lionel Messi’s emergence into the first team and joined Roma in a £2.2million deal in 2007.

READ: A tribute to Ludovic Giuly, the magic elf who couldn’t help but make an impact

2. Phillip Cocu

After joining Barcelona on a free transfer in 1998, Cocu initially wore the No.15 shirt before changing to the No.8 following Celades’ departure.

Unfortunately for the former Netherlands international, his time in the No.8 shirt coincided with the most barren period in Barcelona’s recent history.

But he was one of their standout performers during this turbulent spell and with a better team around him, the midfielder may well have helped them win more silverware.

Cocu finished his Barcelona career with 291 appearances to his name before returning to former club PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2004.

1. Andres Iniesta

When you think of Barcelona’s No.8 shirt, there’s only one player that springs to mind.

Iniesta had already made over 150 first-team appearances for Barcelona when he switched from No.24 to his preferred No.8 ahead of the 2007-08 season.

He then established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world, helping the club win seven La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues over the next 11 years.

The former Spain international joined Japanese side Vissel Kobe on a free transfer in 2018 and filling Iniesta’s shoes has proved to be an impossible task for Barcelona. 


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