I don’t think too many people expected Alex Song to be a big part of the Barcelona plan for success this season, unless injuries took their toll on the first team. I’m not sure a lot of fans thought Luka Modric is some substantial upgrade to Real Madrid, or better than one of their midfielders. It didn’t stop Marca voters to choose them as the worst signings of the season so far.
Alex Song was the surprising signing of the summer. He wasn’t linked to any transfer moves, but all of a sudden, in a matter of days, Barcelona seemed really keen on getting the Cameroonian, who has established himself as a rising defensive midfielder, but is also useful in other defensive positions. He was purchased for £15 million and has mostly played when Barcelona were short of a centre back, so far playing a total of 17 times for the club.
Luka Modric has been used a bit more regularly, playing in 13 matches for Real Madrid in the La Liga, but his minute total bring him to just about eight full matches. While he can play as an attacking midfielder or in a more retreated role, there doesn’t seem to be a chance he can take over for either Mesut Ozil or Xabi Alonso, coming up just short or more than that when it comes to quality differences between him and the other players. Modric cost Real Madrid £33 million, quite expensive for a rotation player.
This isn’t the only bad or expensive signing Real Madrid have made in recent years. Nuri Sahin was purchased for €10 million in 2011 and has hardly been used since, currently spending his time on loan in Liverpool, where he isn’t doing too well either. Some would argue that bringing in Fabio Coentrao for €30 million wasn’t the wisest of choices as well. A year earlier Pedro Leon was also signed for €10 million from Getafe. He has played only six matches for Real since arriving. The biggest flop of all should be Kaka. Yes, he’s had his moments, but for €65 million, you should get more than the odd brilliance here and there.
It hasn’t been perfect for Barcelona as well. Alexis Sanchez isn’t a flop, but he’s going through a terrible second year at the club after a promising first one. He was signed for €26 million from Udinese, scoring 15 goals in 41 matches last season. This year? Only 1 goals in 19. Dmytro Chygrynskiy is one of the bigger enigmas. The Ukrainian full back was purchased from Shakhtar for €25 million in 2009 and ended up playing only 12 matches. At the end of the season, Barcelona sold him back for €15 million, helping Shakhtar making an impressive profit on what was basically a one year loan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasn’t the best piece of business as well. The Swedish striker was purchased for €42 million + Samuel Eto’o. He did provide some good numbers for Barcelona, scoring 16 league goals for the club. He was loaned to Milan and later sold to Italy for €24 million. That season another purchase that hasn’t really fulfilled its potential occurred, as Keirrison signed with the club for €14 million. Since? He’s mostly been loaned out to teams, currently to Coritiba in Brazil, still not playing a single time for Barcelona.