Barcelona’s 15 best signings of all time
As the Blaugrana look to strengthen for the 2017-18 season, Goal picks out the greatest transfers in the history of the Catalan club
Barcelona have signed some superstars in their history. Although many of the best players to have graced Camp Nou emerged through the youth system at La Masia, including Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, there have been some top transfers too.
The Blaugrana have won five European Cups, 24 league titles and 29 Copas del Rey among numerous other trophies in their 118 years and in that time they have been blessed with some of the world’s finest footballers.
Here, Goal takes a look at the very best signings in Barcelona’s history…
DANI ALVES | From Sevilla | €35m | 2008
Barcelona fans are still lamenting the departure of Dani Alves after the Brazilian spent eight successful seasons at the club between 2008 and 2016, helping the team to two trebles in that time.
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Alves joined Barca from Sevilla for €35m (around £30m) in the summer of 2008 and formed a fantastic understanding with Lionel Messi on the right side as he quickly became an important player in Pep Guardiola’s great team.
In his eight seasons at Camp Nou, Alves played 391 games for Barca and scored 21 goals, winning 23 trophies before a surprise move to Juventus last year.
JOHAN CRUYFF | From Ajax | €2m | 1973
It is fair to say that Johan Cruyff has had a bigger impact on Barcelona than anyone else over the past 50 years – as a player, as a coach and as an advisor later on.
Cruyff arrived for around €2m (£1.77m) in 1973 in what was a world record transfer fee at that time. Barca had originally wanted to bring in Gerd Muller, but turned to the Dutchman instead after difficulties in signing the German forward.
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And they did not regret it. Cruyff led Barca to a first Liga title in 14 years in an impressive debut season and also won the Copa del Rey in his five years at Camp Nou. He later returned as coach to win four league titles in a row and was instrumental in the appointments of Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola – as well as the development of La Masia.
SAMUEL ETO’O | From Mallorca | €24m | 2004
Samuel Eto’o joined Real Madrid as a youngster, but with opportunities few and far between for the teenager at the Santiago Bernabeu, he moved to Mallorca on loan and ultimately signed for the islanders permanently.
A stunning four-year spell alerted Barca’s attention and he moved to Camp Nou in a €24m deal (around £16m) after lengthy three-way negotiations involving Madrid (who wanted to buy him back).
The Cameroon striker scored 130 goals for the Catalan club in 199 appearances and netted in two Champions League finals for the Blaugrana – against Arsenal in 2006 and Manchester United in 2009 – before winning the trophy again at Inter.
LUIS FIGO | From Sporting CP | €3.5m | 1995
Many Barcelona fans probably do not have fond memories of Luis Figo after the Portuguese defected to join Real Madrid in a controversial transfer back in 2000.
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However, Figo was wonderful in his five seasons at Camp Nou, scoring 45 goals in 249 appearances for the Blaugrana, setting up numerous others and winning seven trophies following a cut-price €3.5m move from Sporting CP in 1995.
So impressive was his form at Barca that he won the Ballon d’Or in 2000, but by that time he had already moved to Madrid after Florentino Perez paid his release clause of €60m to shock the football world in July of that year.
RONALD KOEMAN | From PSV Eindhoven | €5m | 1989
Ronald Koeman’s name will forever be etched into Barcelona’s folklore after he hit the winner against Sampdoria in 1992 to hand the Catalan club their maiden European Cup.
The Dutch defender had moved from PSV in 1989 for what would be around €5m (£4.43m) in today’s money and became a key member of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team at Camp Nou.
Koeman spent six seasons in Spain, making 264 appearances for Barca and scoring 88 goals. The current Everton coach won 10 trophies in that spell, including four consecutive league titles, and still considers it the happiest time of his life.
LAZSLO KUBALA | From Hungaria | Free | 1951
A statue of Laszlo Kubala stands proudly outside Camp Nou, paying tribute to the Hungarian legend whose popularity forced Barcelona to build their stadium in the first place after their old ground at Les Corts became too small for all the fans wanting to watch the brilliant forward.
Kubala fled Hungary and was actually close to signing for Real Madrid, but Barca interrupted negotiations to talk the forward into a move to Catalunya instead in 1950, although an international ban meant he had to wait a year for his debut in La Liga.
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Four league titles followed in a glorious era for Barca as the club moved to Camp Nou and Kubala’s signing was also some revenge for Real Madrid’s capture of Alfredo Di Stefano from under their noses in 1954.
LUIS ENRIQUE | From Real Madrid | Free | 1996
Luis Enrique spent five years at Real Madrid between 1991 and 1996 after moving to the Santiago Bernaneu from his hometown club Sporting Gijon, but he played his finest football at Barcelona after leaving Los Blancos on a free transfer.
The Asturian midfielder scored just 18 goals for Madrid but netted that amount in his debut campaign at Camp Nou, where he stayed for eight seasons in total and won seven trophies.
In total, Luis Enrique scored 109 times in 300 appearances for Barca, playing in a number of different positions, and also enjoyed a successful spell as coach between 2014 and 2017 as he led the club to the treble and claimed a total of nine trophies for the Blaugrana.
MIGUELI | From Cadiz | €72,000 | 1973
Barca bought Migueli from Segunda side Cadiz in 1973 and the defender spent 15 years at the Catalan club where he went on to make more appearances for the Blaugrana than any other player.
Nicknamed ‘Tarzan’ long before Carles Puyol, Migueli was a no-nonsense centre-back who also played 32 times for Spain and was a fixture for Barca throughout the late 1970s and most of the 1980s.
He has since been overtaken in appearances by Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Puyol, but is still considered one of the best defenders in Barca’s history and was signed for around €72,000 (£64,000) in today’s money.
NEYMAR | From Santos | €57m | 2013
Neymar’s future at Barcelona is uncertain amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain for his services this summer, but fans of the Catalan club will hope he stays at Camp Nou for many more years to come.
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The Brazilian moved from Santos in a controversial transfer in 2013. Barca claim they paid €57m (around £49m) for the forward, although that included a €40m payment in wages to the player’s parents and the total operation was later revealed to have cost €86.2m – and that does not include alleged unpaid taxes either.
Whatever he did cost, Neymar has been a spectacular success alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, netting over 100 goals and winning eight trophies in his four seasons at the club.
GERARD PIQUE | From Manchester United | €5m | 2008
Gerard Pique is a graduate of La Masia, but also one of the best signings in Barcelona’s history after his €5m (£4m) move from Manchester United in 2008.
The Catalan defender arrived in the same summer as Dani Alves (having previously left Camp Nou in search of first-team opportunities) and went on to partner Carles Puyol for several seasons in one of the club’s best-ever central defensive pairings.
Still only 30, Pique has won 25 trophies for Barca, as well as a World Cup and a European Championship with Spain, and wants to become president of the Catalan club when he has retired.
RIVALDO | From Deportivo La Coruna | €24m | 1997
Rivaldo spent five fantastic seasons at Barcelona between 1997 and 2002 after moving from Deportivo La Coruna for around €24m (£21m) and was a hugely popular player at Camp Nou, helping the club to back-to-back league titles in that time before leaving to join AC Milan.
The brilliant Brazilian, a World Cup winner in 2002, scored 100 goals for Barca and many of those were wonderful – including the famous overhead kick against Valencia that sealed Champions League qualification for the Blaugrana on the final day in 2001.
A Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999, Rivaldo played his finest football at Barca, but his relationship with coach Louis van Gaal was often prickly and the club fell into decline in his final seasons.
RONALDINHO | From Paris Saint-Germain | €30m | 2003
Ronaldinho’s arrival at Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain for €30m (£21m) changed the fortunes of the Catalan club after a four-year slump between 1999 and 2003.
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Barca agreed terms with David Beckham in an election promise by Joan Laporta, but knew the Manchester United midfielder would join Real Madrid and instead signed Ronaldinho.
The Brazilian lifted Barca on the pitch as he helped the Catalans win back-to-back Liga titles and also the Champions League in 2006. And despite losing his spark towards the end and leaving to join AC Milan in 2008, he will always be remembered as one of the club’s finest footballers after so many memorable moments in his five years at Camp Nou.
HRISTO STOICHKOV | From CSKA Sofia | €1.6m | 1990
Hristo Stoichkov signed for Barcelona in the summer of 1990 from CSKA Sofia for a fee in the region of €1.6m (£1.4m) and spent five superb seasons at Camp Nou before returning for a second spell between 1996 and 1998.
The Bulgarian great played a pivotal part in the club’s success under Johan Cruyff as the Dream Team claimed four Liga titles in a row between 1991 and 1994, as well as first-ever European Cup in 1992.
He was a creator and also a prolific finisher, scoring over 100 goals in his first spell at Camp Nou, although he was a little less successful second time around.
LUIS SUAREZ | From Liverpool | €81m | 2014
Luis Suarez is – officially, at least – the most expensive signing in Barcelona’s history at €81m (£65m), but the Uruguay striker would be worth much more than that in today’s transfer market.
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After initially sitting out for a couple of months due to his ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, Suarez starred for Barca in his debut season alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in a trident later described by Luis Enrique as “the greatest in football history”.
Suarez helped Barca win the treble in that season and has nine trophies in total since arriving from Liverpool. And he has netted an amazing 121 goals in just 147 games for the Catalan club – 59 of those in his prolific second season.
LUIS SUAREZ | From Deportivo La Coruna | €3,300 | 1954
Barcelona’s other Luis Suarez was another spectacular signing for the Catalan club and he remains the only Spanish player ever to win the Ballon d’Or.
The Galician forward was bought for a cut-price fee of around €3,300 (£2,900) in 1954 from Deportivo La Coruna in a deal that also included Uruguayan winger Dagoberto Moll.
Suarez won six trophies for Barca between 1955 and 1961 but was ultimately sold to Inter for a world record fee £142,000 (around €160,000) to help pay for the Camp Nou. He went on to win two European Cups for the Italian giants, having lost to Benfica in the final for Barca in 1961.