Transfers are a significant aspect in a bid to strengthen a squad, especially now for Manchester City as they aspire to match their European competitors.
But transfers may not be the strongest suit of the Manchester City’s new manager Pep Guardiola. His reign at City has kicked off with the signings Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus as well as a big money move for John Stones – a centre back, but more on that later.
Great Managers have failed at times in this aspect and Pep Guardiola is no different. Although his failures in the transfer market are surprising when compared to his glittering trophy collections.
Guardiola has improved on this aspect during his time at Bayern Munich by signing established players (Douglas Costa, Arturo Vidal, Xabi Alonso, Mehdi Benatia, Robert Lewandowski etc.) over unearthing unknown talents (with Kingsley Coman being an exception).
Here are some top transfer failures Pep Guardiola has endured…
The centre-back arrived on a free transfer from Mainz 05, but Kirchhoff struggled to dislodge Boateng and Benatia from the starting line-up. Making only 12 outings for Bayern Munich, he was sent out on loan to Schalke and failed to create an impact during his time at the Veltins Arena.
Still unable to make a place for himself in the Bayern Munich squad, the Bavarian giants decided to make a meagre profit by selling the German to Sunderland for fee of around £750,000.
After a season-long loan spell at Napoli, Pepe Reina was signed for €3 million from Liverpool, seemingly as a back-up than a competition to Manuel Neuer. But Neuer’s consistent dominance between the sticks for club and country prevented Reina any chance to prove himself.
The Spaniard managed only three appearances for the club. In his final appearance, Reina was sent-off after just 13 minutes. The penalty kick conceded proved to be decisive as Bayern Munich perished to 1-0 defeat at home, courtesy of the resulting spot-kick goal.
The decision to bring in Reina was a decent one as he was a better alternative to the current back-up options at Bayern Munich. But selling him the very next year was a poor decision as the Spaniard was shipped off to Napoli on a permanent basis for €2 million.
The talented youngster was also tracked by Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at Manchester United, but was snapped up by Pep Guardiola for £2.25 million. Guardiola saved Ferguson, as it happens. So was this the favour that started the friendship between the two?
The Dutchman wasn’t much of a first team player for Barcelona and he was unable to displace anybody from the squad, therefore restricted to making appearances from the bench. After multiple injuries, the winger was sent out on loan to Schalke and Olympiacos but was deemed surplus to requirements on his return. Now, the Dutchman plies his trade at Stoke City.
After Guardiola’s Barcelona reign began, Martín Cáceres joined as a £12.38 million signing from Villareal. Although he didn’t make a single appearance for Villareal, his performances while out on loan at Recreativo were enough to persuade the coach to introduce the Uruguayan to Barcelona.
Injuries, poor performances and competition from more established players didn’t help his career much.
But he was a lucky man as he clinched the treble with the squad, after making just 23 appearances. A career marred by injuries, the Uruguayan is now a free agent after Juventus decided against renewing his contract.
Aleksandr Hleb was one of Pep Guardiola’s first signings after becoming the head coach of Barcelona. A popular figure at Arsenal, the winger was signed for £12.75 million.
The signing of Hleb was considered to be a masterpiece and was expected that Hleb would slot straight into the Barcelona team. But it turned out to be a nightmare for Hleb as he became a bench-warmer at the Nou Camp.
It was followed failed loan spells with Stuttgart, Birmingham City and Wolfsburg. Later, the Belarusian’s contract with Barcelona was cancelled by mutual consent during the January 2012 transfer window and he signed for Russian Premier League club Krylia Sovetov Samara.
The Ukrainian played for Shakhtar Donetsk before his transfer to Barcelona. Chygrynskiy was highly rated by Guardiola, eventually signing the player on a 5 year deal for a reported fee around €25 million.
A centre-back by trade, Chygrynskiy became the first Ukrainian to play for the Spanish giants making 14 appearances in his debut season. He fared poorly and was shipped back to Shakhtar Donetsk the very next year for a fee of €15 million, making Shakhtar a profit of €10 million.
Barcelona had secured Henrique’s services from Palmeiras for €8 million on a 5 year deal. The Brazilian centre back was hardly seen in a Barcelona jersey as he was loaned to various clubs in his tenure. Eventually, Barcelona cancelled Henrique’s contract prompting his release from the club and he too just like Chygrynskiy, returned to his former club Palmeiras.
It looks like transfers of centre backs haven’t been Pep’s strongest suit in the transfer market as Henrique is the fourth centre back in this list. But astonishingly, the worst debacles aren’t centre backs.
The Swede was bought from Inter Milan to join the club in exchange for Samuel Eto’o, plus a reported fee of £59 million (which turned out to be a masterstroke from Inter). If Eto’o was to be sold the star performer of Barcelona’s previous campaign would have surely fetched a minimum of £21 million on his own. So the debate should be whether the total value of the transfer eclipsed £80 million.
Ibrahimovic never got along with Guardiola during their time at Barcelona and the mercurial Swede never justified his value in the Catalonia before being loaned out to AC Milan with the club having the option to purchase him outright from Barcelona for €24 million at the end of the season.
Now we don’t know the answer to the debate but it surely means the transfer for the arrogant Swede was quite a debacle for Guardiola. It would be an interesting battle to watch with the Swede playing for Manchester City’s cross town-rivals, Manchester United.
The best of all debacles. The transfer for the Brazilian striker was worth €14 million plus a bonus up to €2 million depending on the number of matches played with the first team. Keirrison signed on a five-year contract. Just like his Brazilian colleague Henrique, he was loaned to various clubs across Europe.
Interestingly, the striker couldn’t make a single appearance in a Barcelona jersey (saved €2 million!) and saw his contract terminated and returned to Brazil. So if you own a Keirrison jersey, you’re sitting on a goldmine – it belongs in a museum!
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