5 players who Barcelona regret selling
Barcelona are a club that more often than not, gets it spectacularly right in the transfer market, moulding unpolished gems into footballing superstars with great regularity. However, when it comes to selling a player at the right time, the Blaugrana have made a few glaring errors.
These are players who could have helped the Catalans earn even more trophies in the recent past, and proved that Barcelona were wrong to part ways with them by enjoying stellar careers away from the Camp Nou.
In this segment, we take a look at five players Barcelona should never have sold.
5. Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure’s presence on this list is a bit of a reach, as Barcelona had some staggering success even after the Ivorian left the club. Toure’s quality was never in doubt, as the powerful midfielder was still an essential cog of Barca’s lineup in the four years he spent at the Camp Nou.
However, Pep Guardiola loved using Sergio Busquets in the defensive midfield role, and Toure left for Manchester City in the Premier League. The Ivorian simply exploded upon arrival, looking twice the player he was at Barcelona. He coupled his defensive instincts to charging bursts upfield to become arguably the most complete midfielder in the world at that time.
Another time and place, another universe, and Toure would have been hailed as a Barcelona legend. It was only Guardiola’s love for Busquets that forced Toure out, though the Catalans could surely have used his talents in mopping up every trophy they could lay their eyes on.
4. Michael Laudrup
Michael Laudrup joined Barcelona in 1989, when the Catalans were struggling, but with Johan Cruyff on the verge of creating a superb side. Together with the likes of Romario, Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov and Pep Guardiola, Laudrup quickly became part of a ‘Dream Team’ that won four consecutive La Liga titles.
Between 1991 and 1994, the Catalans played a style of football that is synonymous with the Barcelona of today. Naturally, there was widespread sadness when Laudrup announced he’d decided to leave, followed by outrage when his destination was announced as Real Madrid.
However, it lacked the venom of Luis Figo’s transfer. Laudrup allegedly fell out with Cruyff leading to the transfer and had the last laugh, winning La Liga with Madrid the next year, becoming the only player ever to win five consecutive La Liga titles with two clubs.
Laudrup later shed light on his controversial switch, adding that he wanted to take up a new challenge.
"People say I wanted to go to Real Madrid just to get revenge. I say revenge from what? I've had a perfect time; five fantastic years at Barcelona."
"I went to Madrid because they were so hungry to win, and they had four or five players who went to the World Cup. I said this would be perfect; new coach, new players, and hungry to win.”
3. Thiago Alcantara
“He is the only player I want. It'll be him or no one.” – When Pep Guardiola describes you in the following manner, you must be some player. Thiago Alcantara was some player, but he never got the chance he deserved with the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta ahead of him. Yet, the La Masia product stayed loyal, only for Cesc Fabregas to come and jeopardize his situation further.
Much to the chagrin of the watching Barcelona fanbase, Thiago was benched as Fabregas was somehow shoehorned into the Barca lineup, but it threw off the balance of the side. When Guardiola offered Thiago a chance to play with his mentor for Bayern Munich as his first-choice midfielder, the answer was dead simple.
The Spaniard flourished at Bayern, becoming their most vital cog in midfield as they racked up multiple league titles – while Barcelona were struggling to jettison Fabregas.
It's telling that most Barcelona fans look at Thiago wistfully, loving that he has fulfilled his massive potential, but forlorn in that he’s practicing his art at the Allianz Arena instead of the Camp Nou.
2. Ronaldo Nazario
Barcelona parted with a world record fee to entice Ronaldo to the Camp Nou. Still, they weren’t as willing to keep the Brazilian at the club a year later, despite Ronaldo plundering in 47 goals for the Catalans in 49 games of the 1996/97 season.
This was a player, who at 20 years of age, won the FIFA World Player of the Year, and Barcelona responded by haggling in the contract negotiations.
In perhaps their biggest transfer blunder of their history, Barcelona let Ronaldo leave for Inter Milan, where Ronaldo went on to cement his status as the world’s best player. The Brazilian mesmerized the fans with his supreme finishing, amazingly quick feet and moments of pure genius that left many gaping in awe.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or in 1997 and 2002 as well, which only underlined the mistake Barcelona made in letting him leave. That he returned to La Liga in Real Madrid’s white jersey just rubbed salt into their wounds, although Ronaldo wasn’t the same player by then.
1. Samuel Eto’o
When Pep Guardiola signed off on the deal that let Samuel Eto’o depart from the Camp Nou to be replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he was probably considering it a masterstroke. Eto’o had proved temperamentally problematic for the serene Guardiola, and the Barcelona manager was replacing him with the best striker in world football, at that time.
Well, as things turned out, Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved to be a colossal failure at Barcelona, while Eto’o went on to create history with Inter Milan. The Cameroonian followed his treble-winning season with Barcelona by winning the treble with Inter Milan (knocking out Barcelona along the way) the following season, becoming the only player in history to do so.
That €46 million Barcelona paid Inter Milan to sell them Samuel Eto’o is probably their costliest blunder. Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti opened up on the transfer, as he went on to refer to Eto'o as an extraordinary player.
“I'm not sure if the deal that brought Eto'o to the club was my best piece of transfer business ever, but I think it was a great piece of business for us."
"Eto'o is fantastic. I do not want to take anything away from Ibrahimovic, but for everyone, it was a great deal to get Eto'o. Samuel is truly extraordinary.”