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6 Barcelona stars who failed in the Premier League as United pursue De Jong

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Giovani de Santos failed terribly at Tottenham. Photo: Eurosport
  • The majority of players sold by Barcelona to the Premier League end up flopping faster than a goldfish on a kitchen counter
  • Man United is on a hunt to bring Dutch professional footballer Frenkie de Jong to Old Trafford from Barcelona
  • Giovani dos Santos made a series of high-profile blunders before being demoted to the bench midway through the season at White Hart Lane

On the surface, Frenkie de Jong appears to be an excellent signing for Manchester United.

The 25-year-old Dutchman is brimming with talent, and despite his underwhelming time at Barcelona, he has the potential to be one of the world’s best midfielders.

 In many ways, he’s a boiling pot of crude oil waiting to be extracted, and who better to do so than his former coach Erik ten Hag?

United is attempting to sign De Jong this summer. Still, before fans get too excited, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of players sold by Barcelona to the Premier League end up flopping faster than a goldfish on a kitchen counter.

 Here, Sportsleo looks back at six former Barcelona players who were unsuccessful in English football.

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique. Photo: AFP

Gerard Pique wasn’t given much of a chance at Manchester United before Pep Guardiola signed him in 2008.

After joining United from Barcelona’s illustrious La Masia academy in 2004, the long-limbed Spaniard expected big things.

Still, minutes were scarce with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic ahead of him in the pecking order.

Pique’s former club activated his £3.5 million release clause after only 23 appearances in four seasons, which feels like a steal 14 years and 30 major honours later.

Victor Valdes

Victor Valdes refused to play a reserve game which prompted Van Gaal to put him on a transfer list. Photo; Goal. com

Victor Valdes decided to try his luck in the Premier League in 2015, joining Manchester United as David De Gea’s runner up after 12 ridiculously successful seasons at the Nou Camp.

No one expected Valdes to compete for a starting spot, but he only made two senior appearances spoke volumes about how little value he appeared to bring to the squad.

After refusing to play in a reserve game, manager Louis van Gaal placed him on the transfer list at the end of the season, and he left for Standard Liege.

Six months later, he returned to the Premier League with Middlesbrough but retired halfway through his two-year contract, leaving a significant legacy in English football.

Claudio Bravo

Barcelona stars who failed in Premier League

Claudio Bravo. Photo: FC Barcelona

United isn’t the only Manchester club to have overpaid for a Barcelona goalkeeper.

Claudio Bravo was one of the first players to arrive at Manchester City when Pep Guardiola arrived, with the tiki-taka master looking for a keeper who could play with the ball at his feet.

However, while the Chilean was good at five-yard passes, he was mediocre at everything else.

Giovani dos Santos

Giovani dos Santos. Photo; Eurosport

 In 2003, two Barcelona youngsters were destined to take the world by storm: Lionel Messi and Giovani dos Santos.

Despite this, the Mexican speedster only made a handful of first-team appearances before joining Tottenham in a £9 million deal in 2008.

It excited Spurs fans, but it also raised their eyebrows. ‘How did we get such a high-rated player for such a low price?’ they wondered. It quickly became apparent.

He made a series of high-profile blunders before being demoted to the bench midway through the season.

He finished the season with the lowest save success rate in the Premier League, prompting City to desperately spend the money on Ederson.

Dos Santos had a lot of tricks, but there was little substance to his game aside from looks.

Three loan moves followed, including one to the mighty Ipswich Town, before he was eventually released on a free transfer in 2012, having made almost no influence on the first team.

Andre Gomes

Barcelona stars who failed in Premier League

Andre Gomes. Photo: MARCA

Andre Gomes had previously failed at Barcelona, but his move to Everton in 2018 seemed promising.

After all, Marco Silva, a fan of expansive football, had just been appointed manager, and the Toffees appeared to be on the rise after spending nearly £200 million the previous season.

However, in his four years on Merseyside, the only notable thing the Portugal international has done is break his leg against Tottenham.

Patrick Kluivert

Barcelona stars who failed in Premier League

Patrick Kluivert. Photo: FC Barcelona

When Newcastle signed Holland superstar Patrick Kluivert on a free transfer in 2004, they thought they’d struck gold.

The striker had been Barcelona’s top goalscorer for six seasons, and the 29-year-old arrived at St James’ Park ahead of what should have been his final season in Spain, although his final season in Spain wasn’t precisely world-beating.

Fans spent the summer salivating over a lethal Kluivert-Shearer strike partnership, but it never materialized, with the duo scoring only 13 league goals between them that season.

Frustrated by Kluivert’s performance, Magpies manager Graham Souness became convinced that the Champions League winner lacked the ‘hunger’ to succeed on Tyneside.

He, therefore, refused to extend his one-year contract, forcing him to leave for Valencia in 2005.


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