Barcelona’s last 16 January signings – and what they’re doing now

Quick Reads
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the match between FC Barcelona and Osasuna at Camp Nou. 13th March 2022

Until this year, when they brought in four players in January, Barcelona had generally avoided doing much business in the winter transfer window. It’s not difficult to see why when you look at the record of their mid-season recruits.

A team as dominant as Barca were tend not to be desperate to bolster their squad at this point of the season, although that has changed somewhat in more recent seasons.

We’ve revisited their last 16 January signings to see how they fared and what they’re up to now.

Juan Pablo Sorin

Barring a short spell at Juventus as a teenager, Sorin had spent his entire playing career in South America prior to the 2002-03 season.

He spent the first half of that campaign on loan at Lazio before switching to Barcelona on another temporary deal.

After Barca flirted dangerously close to the relegation zone over the first half of the season, costing Louis van Gaal his job, Sorin helped steady the ship as the club finished sixth. However, he moved on to PSG the following season.

Since retiring in 2009, the former Argentina left-back has worked as a broadcaster.

Edgar Davids

Barcelona were again struggling at the midway point of 2003-04, with Frank Rijkaard under pressure and the team sitting 12th following a 3-0 defeat at Racing Santander at the start of January.

They eventually finished second, just five points behind champions Valencia, with Davids’ arrival on loan from Juventus credited as being the catalyst for their upturn.

Most significantly, the energy and bite Davids brought to midfield allowed Xavi and Ronaldinho to find their best form for Barcelona. The duo were crucial to the club winning La Liga the following season, by which point Davids had moved on to Inter.

The Dutchman’s most notable role in football in recent years was a bizarre spell as player-manager at Barnet, which ended with the club languishing in the Conference in 2014.

READ: Remembering Edgar Davids’ wonderful then weird stint at Barnet

Jose Pinto

A madhead goalkeeper signed as back-up initially on loan from Celta Vigo in January 2008, Pinto’s loan move was made permanent at the end of the season and he stayed as an able deputy until 2014.

After retiring, Pinto has been able to focus more on his work as a musician and hip-hop producer, releasing music on his own record label under the alter-ego Wahin, with one song used on one of the many dozens of Fast and Furious films.

Ibrahim Afellay

Injuries blighted Afellay’s career after joining Barcelona from PSV in January 2011, with the midfielder suffering a serious knee injury in September that reduced him to just four more appearances for the club.

After loan spells at Schalke and Olympiacos, the Holland international joined Stoke’s Stokealona contingent on a permanent deal only to suffer from more serious knee issues.

He announced his retirement at the start of last year… and was dissed in a Ryan Babel rap track in September 2021.

With stunning lyrical incision, Babel spat: “Heard in the corridors you’re broke, bro. You call things and don’t think about them anymore bro code. But I understand if your career comes to a dead end.”

We hope that sounds better in Dutch.

Anyway, if you were hoping this little anecdote might develop into an Oranje version of Stormzy v Wiley, then you’ll be (still) disappointed.

“I’ve only known him through the Dutch national team and he was always nice there,” Afellay said in response. “I don’t have anything bad to say about him really.”
Aleix Vidal

Technically signed in the summer of 2015, Vidal was not allowed to be registered by Barcelona until January 2016 while the club served a transfer ban.

After arriving in an initial €18million deal from Sevilla, the right-back failed to establish himself at Camp Nou before being sold back to his former club at a loss in the summer of 2018.

He’s now back in Barcelona – but with Espanyol.

Arda Turan

Another player signed in the summer of 2015 who had to sit on the sidelines for the first six months of the season, like Vidal, Barcelona probably needn’t have bothered with Turan.

The former Atletico Madrid midfielder cost Barca an initial €34million but joined Istanbul Basaksehir on a remarkable two-and-a-half-year/please-just-go-away loan deal in January 2018.

Basaksehir terminated Turan’s loan deal in January, with the highlights of his spell coming in the form of a 10-match ban for pushing an assistant referee and a suspended prison sentence for brawling with a pop star before firing a gun into the floor of a hospital.

Having played a minor role in Istanbul Basaksehir’s Super Lig title win in 2020, he signed a two-year deal with Galatasaray before retiring last September.

Philippe Coutinho

A club-record signing, the Brazilian became a treble winner within a few months.

That sounds like value for money. He wasn’t.

He never really fit in to Barca’s 4-3-3 and Coutinho’s performances deteriorated badly. He was sent out on loan to Bayern Munich where he scored two goals off the bench against his parent club in a humiliating 8-2 thrashing in the Champions League.

Now at Aston Villa, he’s still struggling to find that old spark.

Yerry Mina

Despite playing just 377 minutes of first-team football in six months at the Camp Nou after joining from Palmeiras for €11.8million, three goals at the 2018 World Cup meant Barca could almost treble their money by selling the centre-back to Everton for €30million that summer.

He’s become a hugely important part of Everton’s backline and, most importantly, a world-class shithouse.

Jean-Clair Todibo

In January 2019, Barcelona agreed to sign Todibo on a free transfer upon the expiry of his Toulouse contract, only to pay a small fee to bring the transfer forward and sign the young defender in the winter window.

After making five first-team appearances, the 20-year-old was sent out on loan to Schalke with an option for the German club to make the deal permanent for €25million. They didn’t, and he subsequently spent a very unsuccessful spell at Benfica.

Another loan to Nice revitalised him, however, and since the move was made permanent in 2021 he has been one of the standout defenders in Ligue 1.

Jeison Murillo

A loan signing to provide some squad depth, Murillo made just four appearances before joining Sampdoria in the summer of 2019, also on loan. The Italian club then signed him permanently, but have since opted to loan him away. He’s now back in Serie A after two loan spells with Celta Vigo.

Kevin-Prince Boateng

One of the strangest signings of the 2019 January transfer window, Boateng unexpectedly joined Barcelona on loan from Sassuolo.

Four appearances and zero goals later, Barca opted against signing the former Portsmouth man on a permanent deal, and he instead swapped clubs in Serie A by moving to Fiorentina.

He’s now playing for Hertha Berlin after a spell turning out alongside Mario Balotelli for Silvio Berlusconi’s Monza.

Martin Braithwaite

Not technically a January signing, but we’ll sneak him in anyway.

Braithwaite joined Barca for €18million as an emergency signing in February 2020 owing to a long-term injury to Ousmane Dembele and, to us, seeing the ex-Middlesbrough man in Balugrana was never not weird.

Unloved, he was shunted across the city to Espanyol last year.

READ: Ranking Barcelona’s 16 weirdest signings so far this millennium

Dani Alves

Alves arrived in November 2021 with a great big slice of nostalgia packed in his suitcase but Barca weren’t allowed to register him until January.

He then rolled back the years with some fine performances and generally brightened the place up with his snazzy clobber and infectious grin before hot-footing it to Mexico and UNAM last summer.

Ferran Torres

At €55million, Torres didn’t come cheap from Manchester City. And in his early games, he missed a fair few presentable chances, leading to questions from the Camp Nou faithful.

But he’s since managed to get off the mark and certainly has the backing of his manager.

“It happened to Luis Suarez, who seemed to have no goals,” Xavi said in April 2022. “The Barca shirt weighs a few kilos more. But I am delighted to have him in the team and he will give me a lot of joy.

“If he is in the penalty area it is because he will score. He has scored goals all his life and he will have them.”

Adama Traore

A loan signing from Wolves, La Masia product Traore made a strong early impact but had to content himself with an increasingly bit-part role the more the season progressed.

Barca did not take up their option to make the deal permanent.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Again, this is technically a February signing, but it was still a mid-season addition, which is more than good enough for us.

And we need to mention Aubameyang because of what he did. Eleven goals and an assist in 15 starts since moving from Arsenal is an incredible impact.

So it was incredibly on-brand that Barca packed him off to Chelsea for a cut-price fee, while Aubameyang must be regretting his decision with every passing game as he warms the bench at Stamford Bridge.

READ NEXT: The story of the two La Masia players better than Lionel Messi at free-kicks

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Barcelona’s top 20 goalscorers in La Liga since 2000?