The 10 most expensive Barcelona transfers of all time and how they fared: Coutinho, Dembele, Neymar…

Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar playing for Barcelona. TEAMtalk montage.

While Barcelona are renowned for promoting their academy graduates, they have also made a lot of big-money signings. 

The Spanish side have been criticised for their heavy spending in the transfer window and they are currently in financial turmoil. 

We’ve taken a look at the 10 most expensive signings in Barcelona’s history and how those players subsequently fared after completing the move.

Note: we’ve only used the initial transfer fees and haven’t taken into account any potential add-ons.

10. Ferran Torres – €55m

Torres became Xavi’s first signing at Barcelona in January 2022, joining from Manchester City in a deal worth an initial €55million plus another €7million in add-ons.

The 23-year-old winger has shown glimpses of his undeniable talent but is yet to nail down a starting berth at Barcelona.

While Barcelona are reportedly open to offers for the Spain international, he plans to fight for his place in the team.

“I have a contract here, I’m going to stay,” Torres said in July 2023. “I don’t care what is said about me. I’m going to work like anyone else.

“I am the first self-critic, it was not a good season last year but I learned a lot. These ups and downs have helped me to be stronger now.”

9. Raphinha – €58m

In the summer of 2022, Barcelona fought off competition from Chelsea and Arsenal to sign Raphinha in a deal that could reach €65million.

The former Leeds United winger endured a slow start to life in Catalunya and initially struggled to usurp Ousmane Dembele.

But he rediscovered his best form in 2023 and finished his debut season with 22 goal contributions in all competitions and a La Liga winners’ medal.

8. Miralem Pjanic – €60m

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Barcelona agreed to pay Juventus €60million for a 30-year-old Pjanic in 2020.

Arthur Melo moved in the opposite direction for €72million and the deals were probably designed to help both sides work around Financial Fair Play.

Pjanic played 30 times during his one season at Barcelona, although more than half of those appearances were from the bench.

The midfielder spent 2021/22 on loan at Besiktas and then joined United Arab Emirates side Sharjah FC on a free transfer.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – €66m

Despite leading Barcelona to the treble in his first season, Pep Guardiola still decided to buy Ibrahimovic in the summer of 2009.

Barcelona paid Inter Milan €46million for the former Sweden international and also gave them Samuel Eto’o, who was valued at €20million.

While Eto’o won another treble with Inter, Ibrahimovic scored 22 goals in 46 appearances for Barcelona and famously fell out with Guardiola.

He returned to the San Siro in 2010, spending a season on loan at AC Milan before making the move permanent for €24million.

6. Frenkie de Jong – €75m

De Jong snubbed Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 before joining Barcelona in a deal worth an initial €75million and another €11million in bonuses.

He initially failed to live up to expectations and was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United throughout the summer of 2022.

But the Netherlands international remained at Barcelona and played an integral role in the club’s La Liga title-winning campaign in 2022/23.

“He’s been at an extraordinary level for months now,” Xavi said in March 2023. “He goes through the middle to receive, generates superiority. He loses few balls, breaks lines, he’s one of the best midfielders in the world.”

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong

5. Luis Suarez – €81.7m

After winning the Premier League Golden Boot in 2013/14, Suarez left Liverpool and signed for Barcelona in a €81.7million deal.

He missed the first few months of the 2014/15 season through suspension after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup but once he made his Barcelona debut, Suarez never looked back.

The striker formed a formidable partnership with Neymar and Lionel Messi and netted 198 goals in 283 appearances, putting him third on the club’s all-time goalscoring list.

His goals helped Barcelona win four La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys, the Champions League, a UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Club Cup.

4. Neymar – €86.2m

Barcelona fought off competition from Real Madrid and Chelsea to sign Neymar from Santos in the summer of 2013.

While Barcelona initially claimed they paid €57million to sign him from the Brazilian club, it later emerged the transfer fee was €86.2million.

The winger was still worth every penny as he registered 105 goals and 76 assists during four trophy-laden years at Camp Nou.

Barcelona then made a huge profit by selling him to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, which to date remains the highest-ever transfer fee paid for a footballer.

3. Ousmane Dembele – €105m

After selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, Barcelona identified Dembele as the ideal replacement and paid an initial €105million to secure his services.

The deal for the former Borussia Dortmund winger also included €42million in potential add-ons, taking the overall package to €147million.

He struggled for consistency at Camp Nou and was also plagued by a series of injury problems, which made him miss over 100 Barcelona games.

The 26-year-old started to turn things around under Xavi but then followed in Neymar’s footsteps and joined PSG in a €50million deal in 2023.

2. Antoine Griezmann – €120m

Having failed to sign Griezmann in 2018, Barcelona reignited their interest in the forward in 2019 and triggered the €120million release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract.

But he struggled to replicate his Atletico form at Camp Nou, registering just 35 goals and 17 assists in 102 appearances for Barcelona.

The France international returned to Diego Simeone’s side on an initial loan deal in 2021 and the move was later made permanent for just €20million.

“We all know what kind of player he is but I think that he does not fit in our system,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta told TV station Onze. “He always had the right attitude but he was not the player we needed.”

1. Philippe Coutinho – €120m + add-ons

Barcelona broke their transfer record to sign Coutinho in January 2018, paying Liverpool an initial €120million and another €40million in potential add-ons.

The attacking midfielder was seen as the heir to Andres Iniesta, but he failed to justify his enormous price tag and was ill-suited to Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation.

To make matters worse, he also scored two goals against Barcelona in an 8-2 thrashing whilst on loan at Bayern Munich in 2019/20.

After being deemed surplus to requirements, the Brazil international returned to the Premier League in 2022 and completed a €20million move to Aston Villa.

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