Are there really ‘better things’ than playing for Barcelona? Check it out as we give you the top 5 rejects who became a success story elsewhere.
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For many players around the world, it doesn’t get better than playing for FC Barcelona at the iconic Camp Nou.
Walking out into the passionate roar of the Cules supporters and seeing the famous mural ‘Més que un club’ is the dream.
But wearing the famous Blaugrana jersey doesn’t always mean success for every player. Some do well, while others crash for various reasons. It could be down to struggles for form or a contract dispute. Regardless, the end of the road is near for that footballer.
Leaving Camp Nou, though, doesn’t always spell the end of someone’s career as these five players can attest.
5. Mauro Icardi
While Icardi may have been born in the same city as Barca icon Lionel Messi, that was the most he had in common with his compatriot.
The striker joined FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy aged 15 but never once played for the senior team. He graduated up to the U-19 level before leaving for Sampdoria on an initial loan deal.
Icardi later stated that Barcelona’s style of play didn’t suit him, which left the striker with no regrets over his hasty exit.
Now 29, Icardi is starring in the Paris Saint-Germain attack alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe following goal-laden spells at Sampdoria and Inter Milan.
4. Thiago Alcantara
Thiago is a La Masia product who debuted for the first team at only 18 years old in 2009. He made a further 100 appearances and won eight trophies, including two La Liga titles and a Champions League.
Keen for greater opportunities, however, Thiago made a surprise €25 million transfer to Bayern Munich in 2013.
The former Spain international has since made over 200 appearances in all competitions for the Bavarians on route to seven Bundesliga crowns. He later swapped life in Munich for Anfield by joining Liverpool in 2020 for €22 million.
3. Juan Roman Riquelme
Hailed as one of the greatest Argentinian players of his generation, Riquelme was a ready-made fit for FC Barcelona when he joined in 2002. Or so we thought anyway…
The midfielder, renown for his playmaking talents, never found his A-game over at Camp Nou. Head coach Louis van Gaal, unfortunately, didn’t view him as his own signing. Therefore, he only used Riquelme sparingly in games and often had him out of position.
Ronaldinho’s arrival in 2003 then saw Barcelona ship Riquelme off to Villarreal on a two-year loan deal. Moving to the Ceramica stadium, however, reignited the Argentine’s career.
He inspired the Yellow Submarine to defy all odds in 2005/06 by reaching the Champions League semi-finals. A return to Boca Juniors followed in 2007, where Riquelme won a remarkable third Copa Libertadores title. He stayed there for seven years before finally retiring in 2015 after a brief spell with Argentinos Juniors.
2. Yaya Toure
Simply put, FC Barcelona never got the best out of Toure.
The four-time African Footballer of the Year struggled to make his mark at Camp Nou, which convinced Pep Guardiola to sell him to Manchester City in 2010. Little did anyone, though, the move changed Toure’s career.
The Ivorian thrived in his attacking midfield role in Manchester, with 79 goals and 50 assists in 316 appearances during an eight-year stay. He won three Premier League titles and memorably scored the winner in City’s 2011 FA Cup final victory.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
“You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat.”
This absurd quote from Zlatan’s autobiography pretty much sums up his frosty relationship with Pep Guardiola.
The Swedish striker joined FC Barcelona in 2009 from Inter Milan for €46 million, which saw Samuel Eto’o go the opposite direction as part of the deal.
Despite a strong start to life in Spain, things began to fall apart for Ibrahimovic in the second part of the 2009/10 season. After Barcelona lost to his former side Inter in the Champions League semi-finals, Ibra confronted Guardiola and allegedly told him that he is a “spineless coward” following two months of no communication between the pair.
Unsurprisingly, Zlatan didn’t last beyond the summer of 2010. But he still went on to better things by becoming the star man during trophy-laden stints with PSG, Manchester United, LA Galaxy, and AC Milan.