Barcelona's £1BILLION black hole: The 32 bad transfer buys since 2014

Barcelona’s £1BILLION black hole: Despite splurging incredible sums on 32 transfers since 2014 – with Philippe Coutinho among the big-money flops – they have FAILED to improve… and here’s the full sorry list of bad buys

  • Barcelona enjoyed a great summer in 2014, buying the likes of Luis Suarez
  • Since Suarez’s arrival, 32 players have come in, totalling a remarkable £996.5m
  • The likes of Philippe Coutinho and Malcom flopped and the team is now worse
  • Barca have let serial winners like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Neymar all leave

Barcelona may well look back upon the halcyon days of 2014 and wish they could take back the six years of transfers they have since gone on to waste.   

That year saw the superb signings of Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Ivan Rakitic, with all three still part of the first team six years on.

While Suarez was a pricey £75million acquisition from Liverpool, Rakitic cost just £16m from Sevilla and Ter Stegen was even less at just shy of £11m from Monchengladbach.

Luis Suarez arrived at Barcelona in 2014 and has been a huge success at the Nou Camp

The likes of Neymar have left since, with Barca allowing plenty of serial winners to depart

Since then, the club have gone on to spend 10 times that collective amount to buy a whole host of players who have done very little for the club and their unwavering desire to win trophies.

In the 32 permanent deals that have come since – including the four players arriving this summer – Barcelona have spent nearly a billion pounds – £996.5m to be precise – but now have a worse team than the one that Suarez arrived into in July 2014.

Big names have left, the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Dani Alves, Neymar and Javier Mascherano, serial winners that cannot simply be replaced.

The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are among the mega-money arrivals through the door in Catalonia, but current boss Quique Setien finds himself in a difficult position with a squad that is arguably worse than that of their rivals Real Madrid. They trail Real Madrid by a point having played  one more game than their rivals and have just five matches left.

Above Setien, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu must take considerable blame for the incredible events that have seen the club haemorrhage money over the last six years.

In each of the seasons that have been played since Suarez’s arrival, the club have spent more than they’ve brought in in transfer fees, despite the huge exits of the likes of Neymar, Arthur and Alexis Sanchez.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at each season, to see just how the biggest club in the world have got it so wrong in the transfer market… 

Andres Iniesta (left) and Xavi (right) are hugely missed by both the team and the fans

Lionel Messi (right) arguably plays in a worse team now despite nearly £1billion being spent

2014-15

Arrivals*

Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – £75m

Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia) – £18m

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) – £17.1m

Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla) – £16.2m

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Borussia Monchengladbach) – £10.8m

Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad) – £10.8m

Douglas (Sao Paolo) – £3.6m 

Total: £151.5m 

Departures*

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – £38.3m

Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) – £29.7m

Cristian Tello (loan – Porto) – £2.7m

Bojan Krkic (Stoke) – £1.62m

Jonathan dos Santos (Villarreal) – £1.35m

Carles Puyol (retired)

Victor Valdes (released)

*All fees courtesy of Transfermarkt 

Total: £73.67m 

As previously mentioned, there were three great deals for Barca in the summer of 2014, with Suarez, Rakitic and Ter Stegen through the door. 

Even in the three purchases in the weeks that followed though, there were some dodgy decisions being made as they shelled out £18m for Jeremy Mathieu and £17.1m on Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen.

Carles Puyol’s retirement was a blow, while Victor Valdes was released, and Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas were two high-profile exits to the Premier League. 

Ivan Rakitic arrived from Sevilla in 2014 and is still playing regularly for the team now

Thomas Vermaelen, meanwhile, was a surprising arrival and it didn’t work out for him

Carles Puyol (right) left that summer to retire and Barcelona lost an important leader

2015-16 

Arrivals

Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid) – £30.6m

Aleix Vidal (Sevilla) – £15.3m 

Total: £45.9m 

Departures

Pedro (Chelsea) – £24.3m

Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) – £5.4m

Denis Suarez (Villarreal) – £3.6m

Xavi (Al Sadd) – Free

Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke) – Free 

Total: £33.3m 

It was a quieter season in terms of transfers, but even with just two through the door Barcelona managed to spend £46m and lose one of their best ever players for nothing.

Xavi departed to finish his career with Al Sadd, while Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal arrived. Turan is a free agent this summer after being frozen out of both Barca and his loan club Istanbul Basaksehir, while Vidal played just 30 times in LaLiga across three seasons before being shipped back to Sevilla.

Arda Turan’s (left) spell at Barcelona was forgettable and he was frozen out of the club

Xavi’s exit to Al Sadd hit Barcelona hard as another legendary figure departed for free

2016-17

Arrivals

Andre Gomes (Valencia) – £33.3m

Paco Alcacer (Valencia) – £27m

Samuel Umtiti (Lyon) – £22.5m

Lucas Digne (PSG) – £14.85m

Jasper Cillessen (Ajax) – £11.7m

Denis Suarez (Villarreal) – £2.93m

Total: £112.28m 

Departures

Claudio Bravo (Man City) – £16.2m

Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund) – £7.2m

Alen Halilovic (Hamburg) – £4.5m

Adriano (Besiktas) – £2.07m

Dani Alves (Juventus) – Free 

Alex Song (Rubin Kazan) – Free 

Sandro Ramirez (Malaga) – Free 

Martin Montoya (Valencia) – Free

Total: £29.97m 

Again, there was a big-name departure as Dani Alves left for Juventus on a free transfer. Another serial winner out the door, with Andre Gomes the biggest arrival of the summer. 

The now Everton man arrived from Valencia alongside Paco Alcacer and there were high hopes placed upon their shoulders, but neither could reach the heights expected of them.

Samuel Umtiti was one positive arrival, his £22.5m fee looking like a snip four years on, but overall it was another disappointing year. £112m was spent with just £30m recouped, and the team did not improve. 

Dani Alves was one of the next trophy-laden stars to depart, joining Juventus on a free transfer

Samuel Umtiti arrived at the club and is still a regular in the defence this season

2017-18

Arrivals

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – £145m

Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund) – £112.5m

Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande) – £36m

Nelson Semedo (Benfica) – £32.1m

Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) – £10.8m 

Yerry Mina (Palmeiras) – £10.62m

Marlon (Fluminense) – £4.5m  

Total: £351.5m

Departures

Neymar (PSG) – £199.8m

Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune) – £4.95m

Cristian Tello (Real Betis) – £3.6m

Gerard Deulofeu (loan – Watford) – £900k

Jordi Masip (Real Valladolid) – Free

Jeremy Mathieu (Sporting Lisbon) – Free

Total: £209.25m

Potentially the biggest summer in Barcelona’s history came in 2017 when Neymar left and Philippe Coutinho arrived from Liverpool. Incredibly, despite earning nearly £200m from the Neymar deal, Barca still managed to spend £142.3m more than they brought in.

Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele – the two £100m-plus signings that year – are both still on the books but have flopped massively, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them both elsewhere come the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

In the outgoing category were both Neymar and Javier Mascherano, two more big names with a whole host of trophies under their belts at the Nou Camp. A huge amount of money spent, but still the club went backwards. 

Philippe Coutinho has flopped since his big-money move from Liverpool to Barcelona

Neymar’s exit is still felt in Catalonia and he may well return for a second spell at some point

2018-19

Arrivals

Malcom (Bordeaux) – £36.9m

Clement Lenglet (Sevilla) – £32.3m

Arthur (Gremio) – £27.9m

Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) – £16.2m 

Total: £113.3m

Departures

Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande) – £38m

Yerry Mina (Everton) – £27.2m

Lucas Digne (Everton) – £18.1m

Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – £11.7m

Aleix Vidal (Sevilla) – £8.4m

Marlon (Sassuolo) – £5.4m

Munir Al-Haddadi (Sevilla) – £945k

Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe) – Free

Total: £109.75m

In 2018, Barcelona gambled massively on Bordeaux wonderkid Malcom, splashing out £37m to bring him to Spain. Clement Lenglet, Arthur and Arturo Vidal also came through the door as the club spent £113.3m on their four new arrivals.

In fairness, both Lenglet and Vidal still play regularly for Quique Setien’s side, while they have just made a significant amount on Arthur, selling him to Juventus for £75m. Malcom, though, only lasted a year before being shipped out to Russia.

In terms of departures, Barca got rid of a fair bit of dead wood, selling Paulinho after a year, while Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Marlon were among the other exits. 

Andres Iniesta also left, another legend out on a free, joining Vissel Kobe. He is perhaps the most missed of any player ever to leave Barcelona, along with Xavi. 

Arthur’s arrival at Barcelona turned out to be short-lived – he was sold to Juventus this week

Andres Iniesta was another legend out on a free as he joined Japanese side Vissel Kobe

2019-20

Arrivals

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) – £108m

Frenkie de Jong (Ajax) – £67.5m

Neto (Valencia) – £23.4m 

Martin Braithwaite (Leganes) – £16.2m

Junior Firpo (Real Betis) – £16.2m

Emerson (Atletico Mineiro) – £10.8m

Total: £242.1m

Departures

Malcom (Zenit St Petersburg) – £36m

Jasper Cillessen (Valencia) – £31.5m

Andre Gomes (Everton) – £22.5m

Paco Alcacer (Dortmund) – £18.9m

Denis Suarez (Celta Vigo) – £11.61m  

Marc Cardona (Osasuna) – £2.25m

Sergi Palencia (Saint-Etienne) – £1.8m

Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe) – Free

Douglas (Besiktas) – Free 

Total: £124.6m  

And so to the current campaign. Antoine Griezmann’s arrival ended one of the longest sagas in transfer window history, as he finally pulled on the red and blue of Barca two years after they first tried to sign him. Frenkie de Jong was another big name through the door.

Overall, £242.1m was spent across both transfer windows – plus the emergency signing of Martin Braithwaite from Leganes – while they made just half of that from outgoings despite nine players leaving permanently.

The jury is still out on Griezmann and De Jong, while £23.4m for back-up keeper Neto – who has made one LaLiga appearance – seems reckless to say the least. 

The jury is still out on Antoine Griezmann, but his move from Atletico Madrid hasn’t worked yet

Martin Braithwaite was an emergency signing from Leganes after an injury to Luis Suarez

2020-21

Arrivals

Miralem Pjanic (Juventus) – £54m

Trincao (Braga) – £27.9m

Matheus Fernandes (Palmeiras) – £6.3m

Pedri (Las Palmas) – £4.5m

Total: £92.7m

Departures

Arthur (Juventus) – £75.2m

Carles Perez (Roma) – £9.90m

Arda Turan (Released) – Free

Total: £85.1m 

Four players have already been signed up for next season, with nearly £100m spent before the window even opens. Pjanic comes from Juventus as part of the Arthur deal, with Barcelona buying a 30-year-old midfielder to replace the 23-year-old leaving the club.

Trincao, Matheus Fernandes and Pedri, meanwhile, may all turn out to be incredible signings for Setien – or whoever it may be in the Nou Camp hotseat by the time they arrive.

Overall, though, it’s fair to say that given the club’s track record, it would be little surprise to see them go the same way as plenty of others that have come before them.

Arthur signs his contract at Juventus after leaving Barcelona for Italy in a £75.2m deal

Las Palmas star Pedri (centre) is one of four players set to move to Barcelona this summer




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