7 Worst Barcelona Transfers of All Time: From Dembele to Ibrahimovic

7 Worst Barcelona Transfers of All Time: From Dembele to Ibrahimovic

Edwin Kiplagat
updated at August 4, 2023 at 10:30 AM
In this article:
Ousmane Dembélé logo
Paris Saint Germain (PSG) logoFFrance logo
Philippe Coutinho logo
P. Coutinho
Al Duhail logoMBrazil logo
Antoine Griezmann logo
Atletico Madrid logoFFrance logo
Zlatan Ibrahimović logo
Z. Ibrahimović
AC Milan logoFSweden logo
  • Barcelona have signed some high-profile players who failed to live up to their price tag
  • Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann are perfect examples of players who failed at Barcelona
  • Sports Brief looks at some of Barcelona's worst signings as Dembele prepares to join PSG

Ousmane Dembele's transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain is edging closer. The French winger has not impressed since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

He is one of the players signed to replace Neymar Junior, who left Barcelona to join PSG for a world-record fee. Since then, Barcelona made plenty of questionable signings, which put them in a tight spot financially.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, Alexander Hleb, Martin Braithwaite
Some of these signings cost hundreds of millions of euros. Photos by Lluis Gene and Sam Hodde.
Source: Getty Images

Their golden child Lionel Messi left, and they couldn't get anything right in the transfer market. Even before their financial woes, Barcelona signed players who failed to impress.

Signings may fail for different reasons, namely: a player isn't as good as they thought, the player doesn't fit the style, personal issues, and the coach doesn't like the player. Sports Brief looks at some big-name players who flopped at Barcelona.

Barcelona's 7 worst signings

Alexander Hleb

Hleb was one of the first players signed by Pep Guardiola in his first summer as Barca's manager. He left Arsenal in 2008 despite being at his peak under Arsene Wenger. However, things didn't go well for the Belarusian. He arrived at a time when Guardiola was forming a potent team with the likes of Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets. Therefore, getting a starting spot was difficult.

The 42-year-old made only 36 appearances for the Spanish giants and had loan spells at Stuttgart, Birmingham City, and Wolfsburg before his contract was mutually terminated in 2012.

Miralem Pjanic

The Bosnian was a bizarre signing by Barcelona. He joined the club in 2020 from Juventus in a swap deal involving Arthur. The fee, in theory, was €60 million, while Arthur arrived for €72 million. Both players failed in their new clubs.

Pjanic was past it when he got to Barcelona. He made just 30 appearances before he was shipped to Besiktas in 2021 in a loan deal. Last summer, he joined Sharjah FC in the UAE Pro League on a free transfer, but he remains one of the club's worst-ever signings.

Martin Braithwaite

Braithwaite is another transfer that left many fans with plenty of questions than answers. In January, Barca failed to strengthen their attack. In February 2020, Dembele was ruled out for the rest of the season, a situation which forced Barcelona to request an emergency signing.

So they signed Braithwaite from Leganes for €18 million. Leganes went on to get relegated after failing to sign a replacement. He made just 58 appearances and left unceremoniously last summer to join Espanyol.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swede announced his retirement recently and will go down as one of the best players of his generation, but his transfer to Barcelona was not great. He left Inter Milan in 2009 in a deal that saw Samuel Eto'o go the other way. The Cameroonian came back to haunt them in the Champions League in the 2009/2010 season.

Ibrahimovic didn't have the best relationship with Guardiola, but he performed okay in his only season at Camp Nou. He bagged 22 goals in 46 appearances, per Transfermarkt.

Antoine Griezmann

The Frenchman joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019 for €120 million, but his time with the La Liga giants was a disaster. He returned to Atletico Madrid on loan in 2021. In October, the two clubs agreed on a permanent deal for the veteran forward, per Sky Sports. He scored 35 goals in 102 appearances for Barcelona and won only the Copa del Rey during his time at the Nou Camp.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho arrived in 2018, perhaps as a replacement for Neymar. Barcelona paid Liverpool €120 million plus €40 million in potential bonuses. It is one of Josep Bartomeu's worst-ever decisions as club president. He made 106 appearances for the club, but one of his biggest achievements was bizarrely scoring two goals against Barca in the famous 8-2 thrashing in the Champions League.

They finally offloaded him in January 2022 on loan to Aston Villa before permanently selling him to the English club.

Ousmane Dembele

Dembele is on the verge of joining PSG, and just like Coutinho, his time with Barcelona was a disaster. Injuries and discipline hampered his progress at Camp Nou. He is 26 and should be in the prime of his career, but it seems he'll just show glimpses of his brilliance before he gets injured again.

He could still become a world-class player, but his last few seasons suggest he is far from reaching those heights.

Other Barcelona flops: Malcom, Jeremy Mathieu, Lucas Digne, Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Gomes, Nelson Semedo, Christophe Dugarry, Alex Song, Andre Gomes

Barcelona offered Neymar on loan

Earlier, Sports Brief reported PSG's bid to sign Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona could cause the world’s most expensive footballer, Neymar Junior, to move in the other direction.

PSG are set to wrap up the deal for Dembele before the end of the week after agreeing to personal terms with the French winger and are reportedly ready to pay the Catalans €50 million for his release.

Barcelona have been offered their former player, Neymar, on loan by PSG as part of negotiations to convince the Catalans to part ways with Dembele.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.