Ghana's No. 1

Philippe Coutinho and Marc Overmars among the Premier League stars who flopped at Barcelona

Published on: 23 May 2020

Alex Song's revelation this week that he was never too bothered by failing at Barcelona because they paid him so much money was a reminder that the Catalan club have been burned buying Premier League players on more occasions than they would want to remember.

Song, who spent four years as a Barca player but was shipped out on loan after two seasons, was quoted by Cameroonian website Lion Indomptable, saying: 'I met Barca's sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games. But I didn't give a f***. I knew that now I would become a millionaire.'

Here, Sportsmail take a closer look at five of their other famous flops – with four of them having come from the same English club.

ALEXANDER HLEB

Barcelona paid Arsenal £11.8million for Hleb in 2008 and the talented Belarusian should have become an integral part of Pep Guardiola's revolution.

Instead, he never got to grips with the new coach's demands in training and so rarely showed his ability in the team.

Guardiola wanted his players turning up an hour before training started so they would be out on the training pitch and ready for the start of the session in good time. Hleb would often be the last to arrive.

He fell foul of Guardiola's system of fines as a consequence. He also never made any progress learning Spanish.

One of the coach's maxim's was: Not alert in training – not going to be alert on the pitch, so there were few chances to shine.

When he did get the opportunity, he overindulged on the ball, perhaps in an attempt to hide the way much of the team play practised in training had gone over his head.

Guardiola got rid after just one season.

MARC OVERMARS

Overmars joined Barcelona in 2000 for £25m but never came closing to justifying that outlay.

He was brought in to replace Luis Figo but the former Arsenal winger fell short.

No one doubted his ability or his application and there were moments of magic. But having cost so much, and with such big boots to fill, he had to be an almost instant and then consistent success, and dogged by injury, he wasn't.

THOMAS VERMAELEN

The elegant Belgian defender was perfect for the way Barcelona like to defend.

He had pace to burn so that sitting as high up as the halfway line while his team attacked and then having to race back was never going to be a problem.

He was good on the ball too so there would be no rushed long clearances so frowned on at the Nou Camp. And he was exceptional in the air which would help Barcelona strengthen an area where they were weak.

There was only one problem: his terrible luck with injuries.

Barcelona knew this before he arrived. He was injured when they signed him. It did not put them off. They spent £15m on him and then watched as he watched from the sidelines.

He joined in 2014 and didn't leave until 2019. The team won plenty of trophies while he was there and when he was fit enough to play he looked the part, but ultimately the gamble on him did not pay off.

EMMANUEL PETIT

Petit came with Overmars in 2000 and fared even worse.

He had looked so good at Arsenal alongside Patrick Vieira but it goes down as another early example of the Arsenal to Barcelona curse. He was gone within a season sold to Chelsea.

Barcelona's success rate with Arsenal would later pick up when they signed Giovanni van Bronckhorst and then Thierry Henry. Before things returned to normal with Hleb, Song and Vermaelen.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO

Not all the underwhelming signings arrived from Arsenal.

After a long drawn out saga, Barcelona broke their transfer record for Philippe Coutinho in January 2018. The deal, which was worth £145m with add-ons made, him the third most expensive player in history behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

It hasn't all been bad. There have been goals and assists and his Copa del Rey final performance in 2018 was superb, but the riddle of fitting him into the team with Lionel Messi and an awkward relationship with supporters – they jeered him, he put his fingers to his ears in one sarcastic goal celebration in response – meant the club soon began to look for a way of getting their money back on him.

On loan at Bayern Munich he has played well enough until injury, but Barcelona want around £90m for him and the German champions were never going to pay that.

He could yet fit in under Quique Setien, but if not Barca will have to take at least a 50 per cent loss on the money they paid for him.

Source: m.allfootballapp.com

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