Ranking the 26 Brazilians to sign for Barcelona since 1990

Quick Reads

Barcelona and Brazil have enjoyed a long-running relationship, with some of the best players in the modern era representing the club and country.

But in among their many successes there have been a fair few flops and some downright head-scratchers.

Here’s how we’ve ranked the 26 Brazilians to have signed for the club since 1990.

26. Keirrison

Signed for €14million in 2009, he never made a senior appearance for Barcelona. Six years and five loans later, he left on a free. That went well.

25. Henrique

Barcelona gazumped Ajax to sign Henrique for €8million from Palmeiras, but he was another to never actually play for the club, often loaned out before his contract was eventually cancelled. A slightly cheaper Keirrison.

24. Marlon Santos

Signed from Fluminense for €5million, three senior appearances in 2016-17, sold to Sassuolo for €6million. *insert Alan Partridge shrug here*

23. Douglas

Six years on, we’re still not sure how or why Douglas ended up at the club.

22. Fabio Rochemback

A cult hero at Middlesbrough. Not a cult hero at Barcelona.

21. Geovanni

A cult hero at Hull City. Not a cult hero at Barcelona.

READ: A celebration of Geovanni, Ronaldinho’s contemporary who lit up the Prem

20. Neto

Going from Valencia as Jasper Cillessen moved in the other direction in the summer of 2019, it’s difficult to imagine he’ll ever be more than a back-up to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

19. Malcom

There was much fanfare as Barca swooped ahead of Roma at the last minute to sign the highly-rated Bordeaux youngster, but a year on you were left wondering whether it was worth the trouble for him to sit on the periphery and get sold to Zenit Saint-Petersburg.

Still, he scored in a Copa del Rey win over Real Madrid.

18. Sonny Anderson

Ligue 1 Player of the Season for Monaco as they won the title in 1997, it never quite happened for Sonny Anderson at Barcelona. Perhaps judged a little unfairly because he could never replace the irreplaceable in Ronaldo.

17. Philippe Coutinho

Increasingly looks as though he can be filed alongside Andy Carroll as one of the poorest of panic buys as Barcelona desperately scrambled around to reinvest the world-record fee received for Neymar.

Not a complete disaster and rarely awful, but nor was he ever really impressive. His season-and-a-half coincided with two La Liga titles under Ernesto Valverde, but with Lionel Messi in top form and the Madrid clubs off the pace, they may well have won those without him.

Now loaned out to Bayern Munich, it looks increasingly improbable that they’ll ever recoup even half of the €160million spent on him.

READ: Careless Whispers: Even Rodgers knows Leicester can’t sign Coutinho

16. Maxwell

Actually outstayed his mate Ibrahimovic – they eventually linked back up 18 months later at PSG – Maxwell wasn’t the world’s best left-back but he did a job before Jordi Alba’s eventual arrival and played a fair bit in the league and Champions League double of 2010-11.

15. Rafinha

Unlike his brother Thiago with Spain, Rafinha opted to represent the same country as his World Cup-winning father Mazinho.

Unlucky with injuries, he’s shown flashes here and there, hinting at become a special player without ever managing to quite deliver consistently. Increasingly away from the club on loan, at the age of 27 it looks like his future may lie away from Catalunya.

14. Adriano

Adriano won a ludicrous amount of silverware in his six years between 2010 and 2016 without ever fully establishing himself as a first-teamer. His versatility saw him regularly plug gaps, however.

13. Thiago Motta

Motta was born and raised in Brazil, representing them at youth level and even in the CONCACAF Gold Cup before making the switch to Italy, qualifying thanks to his paternal grandfather.

He left Brazil and joined Barcelona as a 17-year-old, going on to develop his skills at La Masia and Barca B before making over 100 appearances for the senior team.

12. Giovanni

A decent playmaker in his day, and a match-winner on more than occasion against Real Madrid. 

Things later turned sour, as it did for many over the years, once Louis van Gaal took over.

“Van Gaal is the Hitler of the Brazilian players; he is arrogant, proud and has a problem,” said Giovanni, looking back years later. Ouch.

11. Paulinho

One of the strangest transfers of recent times, many questioned the club’s decision to bring Paulinho back from China after his disastrous spell with Tottenham.

But he didn’t look lost in their midfield, offering balance for one season before an eyebrow-raising move back to  Guangzhou Evergrande. He even scored nine goals in La Liga.

10. Arthur

Made an impression straight away, slotting into midfield and doing an adequate Xavi impression thanks to his passing and vision – €31million from Gremio is looking like a great bit of business.

9. Sylvinho

Blocked by Roberto Carlos for the national team, Sylvinho was nevertheless a dependable presence as a squad player during his five years he spent with Barcelona. A stint that included two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles.

8. Edmilson

One of five Brazilians in the squad for the 2006 Champions League final, Edmilson offered balance and brawn at the base of midfield, allowing Ronaldinho to offer exuberance further forward. A more than useful player to have during the Frank Rijkaard era.

7. Juliano Belletti

He himself would likely admit he didn’t have the natural ability of many of his compatriots at Barcelona over the years. But he’s the only one to have scored the winning goal in a Champions League final.

6. Rivaldo

He finished ahead of David Beckham to win the 1999 Ballon d’Or, in spite of Manchester United’s treble, which is a testament to the heights Rivaldo reached at the Camp Nou.

He also put in one of the all-time great individual performances to clinch Champions League qualification, scoring all three goals as Barcelona beat Valencia 3-2 on the final day of the 2000-01 season. He capped it off with a superb overhead kick in the 89th minute.

READ: Rivaldo: The story of a great player in a not so great Barcelona team

5. Neymar

Had all the potential to top this list, but his controversial departure to PSG soured things a little, a transfer that rivals his original move from Santos in terms of ill will, eyebrow-raising detail and ill will.

Still, he scored over 100 goals in just four seasons and helped deliver the club’s second treble in 2015, part of their irresistible front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

4. Romario

Not the first Brazilian to play for Barcelona, but the one that started the love affair following his move from PSV in 1993, helping to bolster their famous ‘Dream Team’.

He fell out with Johan Cruyff and left after just two seasons but was a game-changer before that, scoring 34 league goals in 46 appearances, winning La Liga and being named FIFA World Player of the Year.


READ: A celebration of Romario at Barcelona: Football, flights and f*cking

3. Ronaldo

Pre-injury problems, the young Ronaldo of PSV and his one-season stint at Barcelona was an absolute force of nature, playing at a level that arguably none before or since have matched – take it from Sid Lowe, who has lived and breathed Spanish football for the past 25 years.

Pipped to the title by Real Madrid, his year at the Camp Nou was spent leading the line for an otherwise flawed side managed by Bobby Robson.

Still, O Fenomeno lifted the Supercopa, Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup Winners Cup, with 47 goals from 49 appearances in all competitions – in an era long before Messi and Ronaldo skewed the scale.

2. Ronaldinho

One of the most beloved and popular players in history of the game thanks to the sheer joy and ingenuity with which he played, none can match his highlights reel. Even Real Madrid fans applauded him.

A pivotal figure in the title wins of 2005 and 2006, he deservedly won the Ballon d’Or in 2005 and helped deliver the Champions League a year later. But his infamous love of partying eventually took its toll and he started to wane before his departure after four seasons.

1. Dani Alves

He might never have quite hit the peaks of the dazzling forwards he’s ahead of, but he got as close as possible for a right-back, the best player in the world in that position for over a decade. He arrived from Sevilla as a fully-formed world-beater and just kept going.

It’s that longevity – as well as arriving at Barca as they became perhaps the best club side in history, plus his telepathic understanding with Messi – that puts him ahead of anyone else.

Eight seasons, six La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, four Copa del Rey, and plenty more Super Cups, Club World Cups, etc. Unbeatable.

More from Planet Football

A celebration of Romario at Barcelona: Football, flights and f*cking

A forensic analysis of the night Ronaldinho had Real fans on their feet

Rivaldo: The story of a great player in a not so great Barcelona team

Can you name every Barcelona manager since 2000?