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Barcelona’s worst January signings – ranked

Barcelona are not all that accustomed to doing business in the January transfer window and, when they do, it’s usually pretty unspectacular.

Very little success has arrived from the Catalan giants’ winter business endeavours over the years, with anticlimactic mediocrity or worse coming from their pursuits (the below list begins with mediocrity and descends into much, much worse thereafter).

So, from those you might not remember to those who you will certainly instantly think of, 90min ranks La Blaugrana’s worst ever January signings below.

Martin Braithwaite

Martin Braithwaite was a gamble that was never going to come off / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

In fairness to Martin Braithwaite, he was a player they could rely on to give everything for the shirt. The issue was that his everything simply wasn’t enough. A forward who had previously failed to hit heights at Middlesbrough and Leganes, the Dane arrived at Barca for near-enough €20m in January 2020.

Despite going on to briefly provide an almost talismanic presence during some thoroughly bumpy patches for the club, it quickly became apparent that he was not of the club’s usual standard.

His tally of 29 La Liga appearances during the 2020/21 campaign and fair prominence in the side weren’t replicated the following season (through a mixture of severe injury and general disfavour) as he played just five times in total.

He was subsequently shipped out to Espanyol in the summer of 2022, having featured 58 times for Barcelona in two and a half years.

Kevin-Prince Boateng

A weird transfer / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Possibly even more bizarre than the signing of Braithwaite was the arrival of Kevin-Prince Boateng halfway through the 2018/19 campaign.

The former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder was brought in as a deputy to Luis Suarez following the departure of Munir to Sevilla. Well, his services were barely required as he went on to play just four times for the club, failing to score but managing one booking – he did become the first Ghanaian to represent the club, though.

In the end, it was the sort of strange business that epitomised the off-field turmoil that has come to define recent years at the Camp Nou – it must have been divine intervention for the club not to trigger the €8m option to buy as part of this particular loan deal.

Matheus Fernandes

Matheus Fernandes’ time at Barcelona was calamitous / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

From bizarre to brutal, the story of Matheus Fernandes at Barcelona was an all-encompassing catastrophe.

Arriving from Brazilian football as a highly-rated youngster, there was optimism around the midfielder’s €7m transfer to the Spanish giants. His Blaugrana career wouldn’t pan out the way anyone expected, however.

Following an immediate loan to Real Valladolid for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, he’d go on to play just 17 minutes for the club before being forced out a year and a half later. Rather than disciplinary or footballing reasons, the Brazilian was made to leave as Barcelona were scrambling around for funds to keep Lionel Messi at the club.

The complete and utter waste of millions of euros was compounded as the player later came out and condemned the mistreatment he’d been shown by the Catalan giants. A salty saga, to say the least.

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho’s best moment as a Barcelona player came when he was on loan at Bayern Munich… against Barcelona / Pool/GettyImages

Sagas don’t come much more ridiculous than Philippe Coutinho’s time at the Camp Nou.

The Brazilian became the most expensive player in Spanish history with the world’s third heftiest transfer fee of all-time as he joined from Liverpool in January 2018. It was a move that should have turned out into one of the signings of the century; his form at Anfield pointed exclusively to success in Spain.

Early signs suggested that would be the case, as Coutinho managed seven goals and six assists in the second half of the 2017/18 season. A wholly lacklustre and ferociously frustrating 2018/19 term, however, saw the midfielder loaned out to Bayern Munich for the following campaign.

If that wasn’t disastrous and emblematic of shoddy operations enough, though, Coutinho would go on to impress in the Bundesliga as well as bag a brace against La Blaugrana as the Bavarian outfit thrashed his parent club 8-2 on their way to winning the Champions League. Could things be turning for the Brazilian?

There was a glimmer of hope as he returned to Camp Nou but a measly and wholeheartedly unimpressive 24 La Liga outings over the next two years gradually put that slight light out.

Having arrived for over €140m, Coutinho left for around €20m four and a half years later – undoubtedly one of the worst January signings of all time.

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