Barcelona might be better known for La Masia than spending big on transfers, but the Catalonians have made a number of huge splashes in the market in recent years.
Some of these transfers have come against the backdrop of financial problems for the club that have only been eased by the activation of financial levers – selling a percentage of future revenues for liquid capital in the here and now.
Either way, Barcelona have spent big on several players during their illustrious history, although not every signing has worked out for the best.
FootballTransfers runs through the 10 most expensive signings in Barcelona history.
10. Ferran Torres – €55m (from Man City, 2022)
Ferran Torres became the first major signing of Xavi’s reign at Barcelona when the Blaugrana agreed to splash out €55m for the wide attacker.
Xavi specifically requested Ferran as he attempted to rebuild a Barcelona empire that was close to completely collapsing.
Torres had spent 18 months at Man City after arriving from Valencia in the summer of 2020, but jumped at the chance to return to his homeland. The Spaniard left Pep Guardiola’s side having netted 16 goals in 43 games for the club.
Ferran Torres has largely failed to live up to expectations at Barcelona so far, although he did win La Liga in 2023.
9. Raphinha – €58m (from Leeds, 2022)
Barcelona completed the signing of Raphinha from Leeds in the 2022 summer transfer window, despite struggling to fund a deal just weeks earlier.
The Brazil international winger had lit up the Premier League at Elland Road and the Blaugrana beat Chelsea to his signature.
The size of the deal came as something of a surprise, particularly since the Catalans had been in financial dire straits for months leading up to the conclusion of the transfer.
Raphinha helped Barca win La Liga in his first season in Spain, contributing seven goals and seven assists in the league. He has largely been a disappointment so far, though, given the price tag.
8. Miralem Pjanic – €60m (from Juventus, 2020)
The fact that Barcelona paid Juventus €60 million for a 30-year-old who had badly declined over the previous two seasons raised serious eyebrows.
In reality, Barca’s decision to sign Pjanic and sell Arthur Melo to Juventus at an equally inflated price of €80.6m was an accounting trick designed to help both debt-fuelled teams balance the books.
Pjanic struggled horribly in his first season at Barcelona, making just six La Liga starts and failing to score across all competitions. He spent the 2021-22 season on loan at Besiktas before joining Sharjah in the UAE on a permanent deal.
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – €69.5 (from Inter, 2009)
Financially, Barcelona’s signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of the worst deals of all time. Barca not only splashed out €69.5m for the Inter star, but they also handed over a world-class attacker in Samuel Eto’o too.
Although Zlatan’s goal record was good – 21 goals in 45 games on the way to winning La Liga and five trophies in one year – his time in Catalunya soon turned sour.
He fell out with Pep Guardiola, lost his place in the starting XI as Lionel Messi was converted into a ‘false nine’, and suffered the ignominy of seeing Eto’o and Inter beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.
After just one year at Barca he returned to San Siro – with AC Milan – for a cut-price €24m.
6. Luis Suarez – €81.7m (from Liverpool, 2014)
After dreaming of Barcelona for a number of years, Luis Suarez finally got the move he wanted when he left Liverpool for Camp Nou in 2014.
Despite signing on a five-year deal for a then club record €81.7m, Suarez was immediately banned from playing or even training with his new club until October after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.
However, over the course of six seasons at the Catalan club, Suarez scored a remarkable 195 goals and bagged a further 113 assists in 283 games, picking up no less than four league titles, four Copa del Rey trophies and the 2015 Champions League.
Alongside his superb individual talent, Suarez formed one third of Barca’s feared “MSN” attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the Uruguayan striker, and he became one of the best forwards in the world.
5. Frenkie de Jong – €86m (from Ajax, 2019)
After helping Ajax win a domestic double and march to the semi-finals of the Champions League, Frenkie de Jong was one of the most sought-after talents in world football in the summer of 2019.
After rejecting offers from Manchester United, PSG and Manchester City, the Dutch midfielder made the move to Barcelona for a deal worth €86m, with high hopes of taking his world status to the next level.
Although reports suggested the club were happy to offload him in 2022, De Jong stayed put and helped Barcelona win La Liga the following season for the first time in his Blaugrana career.
During five years at Barcelona, De Jong has not reached the sky-high levels that had been predicted of him.
4. Neymar – €88m (from Santos, 2013)
Although the manner of Neymar’s move to Barcelona from Santos eventually led to the club and vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu being charged with tax fraud, it’s safe to say the player’s transfer fee of €88m was repaid comfortably by the Brazilian’s on-field performances.
Neymar needed time to adapt to European football in his first season, but he was at his very best by the 2014-15 campaign as he scored 39 goals in 51 games as Barca claimed a continental treble.
In total, Neymar netted 105 goals and provided 76 assists in just 186 games for the Spanish giants, winning eight major titles before earning his club a remarkable profit with a €222m move to PSG in August 2017. That fee remains a word record.
3. Antoine Griezmann – €120m (from Atletico Madrid, 2019)
With Neymar a distant memory, Barcelona went big in their bid to sign a new forward in 2019 and decided Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann for was the man for the job, spending €120m on the Frenchman in 2019.
Atleti fans defaced the player’s plaque outside their stadium, but Griezmann was eventually confirmed as a Barca player in mid-July.
However, after a subpar time at Camp Nou, Griezmann returned to Atletico on a two-year loan in 2021, which was made permanent in October 2022.
2. Ousmane Dembele – €135m (from Borussia Dortmund, 2018)
Barcelona were held to ransom by Borussia Dortmund as they sought a replacement for Neymar.
Having just recouped the biggest transfer fee ever seen, they were forced to pay well over the odds for Ousmane Dembele, who had admittedly shown plenty of potential first with Rennes and then BVB.
A €135m deal was agreed, but Dembele’s time at Barcelona was dominated by injury problems and despite some moments of brilliance, he was ultimately a disappointment.
Dembele left Barca to join PSG for €50m in the summer of 2023.
1. Philippe Coutinho – €135m (from Liverpool, 2018)
After Dembele struggled to replace Neymar in his first six months at Barcelona, mostly due to injury, the Blaugrana threw money at the problem once more by purchasing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.
The Brazilian had been heavily linked with a move to Camp Nou just six months earlier and finally made the move for an outrageous fee of €135m.
The move turned out to be a disaster for all parties as Coutinho failed to make an impact on the team and even helped knock them out of the Champions League in 2020 whilst on loan at Bayern Munich.
In the summer of 2022, he made a loan deal to Aston Villa permanent for €20m.
The 10 most expensive Barcelona signings of all time
|1. Philippe Coutinho
|= Ousmane Dembele
|3. Antoine Griezmann
|5. Frenkie de Jong
|6. Luis Suarez
|7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
|8. Miralem Pjanic
|10. Ferran Torres
Source From: Football Transfer News Archive including Premier League & La Liga
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