Seven former Barcelona players we can’t believe are still playing in 2021
Barcelona have been through a lot of players over the past fifteen years. If we’re going to be blunt about it, they have to have been through a lot of players to rack up the debts that are currently devastating the club.
Some of those players have been well worth the money spent on transfer fees and wages, though, bringing unprecedented glory to Catalonia. Others… well, they’ve not been so good.
Still, some who have failed to meet expectations at the Camp Nou have gone on to forge long, successful careers elsewhere. And even a few of those who’ve succeeded in Blaugrana have gone on to enjoy Indian summers in far-flung lands.
Here, we’ve rounded up seven former Barcelona stars we can’t believe are still playing in 2021.
Song recently revealed his reasons for joining Barcelona on Instagram: “I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games. But I didn’t give a fuck – I knew that now I would become a millionaire.”
And that is exactly the sort of financial recklessness we were referring to in the first paragraph of the introduction.
Anyway, Song was right. He made minimal impact, starting 29 league games across two campaigns, whilst taking home the pay packet that he was well within his rights to say yes to.
After those two seasons, he spent two more on loan at West Ham, before moving permanently to Rubin Kazan. A short spell at Swiss side Sion followed, but that came to an end in 2020 when Song was one of nine players sacked for refusing to take a pay cut during the pandemic.
Still aged just 34, he is now turning out for Arta/Solar7 in the Djibouti Premier League.
Alves became a legend at Barca after moving there from Sevilla, and enjoyed more success with Juventus and PSG after the higher-ups at the Camp Nou decided not to renew his contract.
After PSG, he returned to Brazil to a hero’s welcome, but things have not gone very smoothly since…
When Guardiola’s Barca signed Chygynskiy from UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk for €25million in 2009, expectations were huge. He looked like a ready-made Barca player; comfortable on the ball and commanding at the back. He proved anything but.
The wild-haired Ukrainian struggled with injury and struggled for form, playing just 12 times in La Liga.
“When I signed for Barca I didn’t think I was going to play without any problems immediately, but nor did I know it was going to be so hard,” he told the Associated Press.
“Here, there’s more pressure from people and from the media, and the style of play is also very different to Ukraine. Desire is one thing; reality is another.”
After a season, he moved back to Shakhtar, where he stayed for five more injury-hit seasons, before two at Dnipro. A move to Greece revived his career though and after five years with AEK Athens, he signed with newly-promoted Super League side Ionokis in summer 2021.
Well, we all know Ibrahimovic is still playing. But it is unbelievable. He’s 40, for Pete’s sake. Forty years old and still playing for a Champions League club – one that he helped return to the Champions League, no less – and still scoring goals in Serie A.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 40 today. He he is pelting forward to score the 565th goal of his career just last month. pic.twitter.com/tErg9LSVjo
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) October 3, 2021
Much like Ibrahimovic, many are aware that Iniesta is still going at Japanese club Vissel Kobe, still rolling back the years with sumptuous free-kicks and cajoling his team into playing some wonderful football.
But it really is impressive that he’s chugging along so merrily and sometimes, when you hear about his latest brilliant pass or fantastic goal, it does take you by surprise.
Andres Iniesta? That Andres Iniesta? Yes, of course, that Andres Iniesta. The one that won four Champions Leagues, nine La Liga titles, six Copas del Rey and so many deserved plaudits with Barca. The one that tugged at our heartstrings with the beauty of his passing.
Interestingly, he’s recently been joined at Vissel Kobe by another former Barca man, Bojan Krkic.
The Venezuelan-born attacker came up through the ranks at La Masia and was a key part of the promotion-winning Barcelona B team that Pep Guardiola oversaw in his first gig as a head coach.
Guardiola rewarded Jeffren with a place in the first-team squad and he made 22 league appearances over three seasons from 2008.
But Jeffren could never cement his place in the side and moved on in 2011, subsequently sampling the delights of football in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Cyprus, Croatia and the UAE.
Jeffren is now playing for Lamphun Warriors who, at the time of writing, sit 11th in the Thai second tier.
Like Jeffren, Martinez came up through the youth teams at Barcelona, playing almost 100 times for Barcelona B between 2002 and 2007. But, like Jeffren, the goalkeeper couldn’t make the step up and only made three first-team appearances.
He has gone on to build a solid career for himself though, turning out in La Liga for Malaga, Rayo Vallecano, Almeria, Levante, Deportivo La Coruna and Osasuna.
Now 37, and after spending last season mostly warming the bench for Osasuna, he signed a one-year deal with Cypriot side AEK Larnaca this summer, joining up with fellow La Masia graduate Javier Espinosa.