Manchester United vs Barcelona: Top 5 Players who played for both clubs
Manchester United welcome Barcelona to Old Trafford on Tuesday for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. The two clubs are enduring contrasting seasons so far and the Catalans are certainly the favorites to win this tie. Despite the recent differences in their fortunes, the two European powerhouses have been home to many world class footballers, few of whom have played for both clubs.
As such, today, we take a look at the top 5 players who have played for both Manchester United and Barcelona in their career.
#5 Henrik Larsson
The Swedish Footballer joined Barcelona in 2004 on a free transfer from Celtic. His first year at the Nou Camp was marred with injuries, which saw him appear just 12 times in the La Liga and 17 times in total in all competitions. However, he did manage to score 4 goals for the Catalans.
He won the La Liga and Barcelona decided to extend his contract for another year, despite his injury concerns. The following season, Larsson was in fine form. He made 28 appearances in the La Liga, scoring 10 goals and was a vital part of the Barcelona attack that also comprised of Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi. But his biggest contribution for the club arrived in the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Larsson started from the bench against Arsenal, but when he was introduced in the 61st minute, Barcelona were trailing 0-1. He went on to assists two goals, scored by Eto’o and Belletti, and helped Barcelona lift their first Champions League title in 14 years. Larsson, during his time at the Camp Nou, won 2 La Liga titles, one Supercopa de Espana and one UEFA Champions League.
The Swedish international was given an option to continue with Barcelona, but decided instead to return to his old club Helsingborg. It was from here that he joined Manchester United on loan, for a period starting from 1st January, till 12th March 2007. During his short stay, he managed to win over the club and the supporters.
The club was eager to extend his stay, but Larsson wanted to respect his promise to his old club and his family. Sir Alex famously went on record to say that he would have done anything to keep the Swedish player at the club.
Larsson played just 13 matches for United and scored 3 goals. In the Premier League, he had 7 appearances and 1 goal. When United won the Premier League trophy, the club requested for two extra medals for Larsson and Alan Smith, as both did not meet the minimum quota of 10 league appearances. The Premier League administration obliged and as such, Larsson has a Premier League medal to his name as well.