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Barcelona’s worst January signings – ranked

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Barcelona are not all that accustomed to doing business in the January transfer window and, when they do, it’s usually pretty unspectacular.

Very little success has arrived from the Catalan giants’ winter business endeavours over the years, with anticlimactic mediocrity or worse coming from their pursuits (the below list begins with mediocrity and descends into much, much worse thereafter).

So, from those you might not remember to those who you will certainly instantly think of, 90min ranks La Blaugrana’s worst ever January signings below.

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Martin Braithwaite

Martin Braithwaite was a gamble that was never going to come off / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

In fairness to Martin Braithwaite, he was a player they could rely on to give everything for the shirt. The issue was that his everything simply wasn’t enough. A forward who had previously failed to hit heights at Middlesbrough and Leganes, the Dane arrived at Barca for near-enough €20m in January 2020.

Despite going on to briefly provide an almost talismanic presence during some thoroughly bumpy patches for the club, it quickly became apparent that he was not of the club’s usual standard.

His tally of 29 La Liga appearances during the 2020/21 campaign and fair prominence in the side weren’t replicated the following season (through a mixture of severe injury and general disfavour) as he played just five times in total.

He was subsequently shipped out to Espanyol in the summer of 2022, having featured 58 times for Barcelona in two and a half years.

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Kevin-Prince Boateng

A weird transfer / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Possibly even more bizarre than the signing of Braithwaite was the arrival of Kevin-Prince Boateng halfway through the 2018/19 campaign.

The former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder was brought in as a deputy to Luis Suarez following the departure of Munir to Sevilla. Well, his services were barely required as he went on to play just four times for the club, failing to score but managing one booking – he did become the first Ghanaian to represent the club, though.

In the end, it was the sort of strange business that epitomised the off-field turmoil that has come to define recent years at the Camp Nou – it must have been divine intervention for the club not to trigger the €8m option to buy as part of this particular loan deal.

Matheus Fernandes

Matheus Fernandes’ time at Barcelona was calamitous / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

From bizarre to brutal, the story of Matheus Fernandes at Barcelona was an all-encompassing catastrophe.

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Arriving from Brazilian football as a highly-rated youngster, there was optimism around the midfielder’s €7m transfer to the Spanish giants. His Blaugrana career wouldn’t pan out the way anyone expected, however.

Following an immediate loan to Real Valladolid for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, he’d go on to play just 17 minutes for the club before being forced out a year and a half later. Rather than disciplinary or footballing reasons, the Brazilian was made to leave as Barcelona were scrambling around for funds to keep Lionel Messi at the club.

The complete and utter waste of millions of euros was compounded as the player later came out and condemned the mistreatment he’d been shown by the Catalan giants. A salty saga, to say the least.

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho’s best moment as a Barcelona player came when he was on loan at Bayern Munich… against Barcelona / Pool/GettyImages

Sagas don’t come much more ridiculous than Philippe Coutinho’s time at the Camp Nou.

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The Brazilian became the most expensive player in Spanish history with the world’s third heftiest transfer fee of all-time as he joined from Liverpool in January 2018. It was a move that should have turned out into one of the signings of the century; his form at Anfield pointed exclusively to success in Spain.

Early signs suggested that would be the case, as Coutinho managed seven goals and six assists in the second half of the 2017/18 season. A wholly lacklustre and ferociously frustrating 2018/19 term, however, saw the midfielder loaned out to Bayern Munich for the following campaign.

If that wasn’t disastrous and emblematic of shoddy operations enough, though, Coutinho would go on to impress in the Bundesliga as well as bag a brace against La Blaugrana as the Bavarian outfit thrashed his parent club 8-2 on their way to winning the Champions League. Could things be turning for the Brazilian?

There was a glimmer of hope as he returned to Camp Nou but a measly and wholeheartedly unimpressive 24 La Liga outings over the next two years gradually put that slight light out.

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Having arrived for over €140m, Coutinho left for around €20m four and a half years later – undoubtedly one of the worst January signings of all time.



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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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