The last decade was quite a successful one for Barcelona, even though their grip on European domination loosened in recent years. Between 2010 and 2020, the Catalans lifted six La Liga titles, won two UEFA Champions League trophies along with five Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana each.
During this period, Barcelona recruited a total of 40 players, three of whom cost them over €100 million each. Not all of these players that arrived at Camp Nou made lasting impacts, with quite a few proving to be major duds. Some, though, played integral roles in the club’s success over the last ten years and continue to do so even now.
And here, we take a look the top five signings that Barcelona made between 2010 and 2020.
Arriving from Premier League side Liverpool in 2010, for a transfer fee of €20 million, Mascherano would go onto become the midfield general for a number of years for Barcelona. The Argentine spent seven-and-a-half years at Camp Nou, winning everything with the club and establishing himself as a modern legend among the fans.
The Argentine, alongside Sergio Busquets, provided the platform in midfield on which Barcelona’s success early in the decade was built. Getting slower with age, Mascherano transformed his game to become a reliable centre-half towards the latter stages of his spell at Camp Nou.
Mascherano made 334 appearances for Barcelona during his stint in Spain and was a pivotal member of team under all the managers starting from Pep Guardiola to Luis Enrique. A leader on and off the field, what endeared the veteran to fans the most was the way he gave it his all when on the pitch.
It was a homecoming for Jordi Alba when he signed for Barcelona from Valencia in 2012, given that the defender had been a part of the Catalans’ youth academy before leaving in 2005. And the Spaniard has never looked back from that point, becoming one of the best full-backs in the game.
Alba, till date, has made 324 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 16 goals and assisting 59 more, playing an instrumental role in their trophy-laden spell over the last decade. The Spanish international forged an excellent partnership with club’s talisman Lionel Messi in his early days at Camp Nou and that partnership continues to thrive to this day.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Alba redefined the role of a full-back with his attacking capabilities. At 31, the Spaniard is still going strong and Barcelona will have a hard job to fill that slot if and when he decides to call time on his spell at Camp Nou.
One of the most high-profile transfers of the last decade, when Neymar, regarded as the crown jewel of Brazilian football at the time, arrived from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, there was frenzy among the fans. The Brazilian superstar was brought in to provide an added spark to the Catalans’ attack and eventually take over from Lionel Messi as the team’s talisman.
It did not take long for Neymar to become a fan favourite at Camp Nou, as he dazzled the supporters with his skills and flair, while scoring a bucket load of goals along the way. The Brazilian, along with Messi and Luis Suarez – more on him later – formed one of the deadliest and most feared attacking trios in the history of modern football, slaying defences, domestic and European alike, for fun.
But, the dream run would come to an end. The 28-year-old decided to leave Barca for PSG in a world record deal worth €222 million in 2017, as he wanted to emerge out of the shadows of Messi. Neymar made 186 appearances for the Catalans, scoring 105 and assisting 77 more, winning three league titles and the Champions League in 2014-15 – he finished as the top scorer in that edition of Europe’s premier competition.
Neymar, despite the way he left the club, is remembered fondly at Barcelona and a return has been mooted almost every transfer window since he departed. It seems to be only a matter of time before the Brazilian is back strutting his stuff out at Camp Nou.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Prior to signing for Barcelona in 2014, Marc-Andre ter Stegen had already carved out a reputation for himself as one of the most talented young goalkeepers at that time. However, the German had to play second-fiddle to Claudio Bravo in his first two seasons at Camp Nou.
But, once ter Stegen nailed down the starting spot between the sticks for himself in 2016-17, there has been no looking back whatsoever. The 27-year-old has just grown from strength to strength with each passing season, becoming a pivotal part of the Barcelona side, establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers across Europe along the way.
Ter Stegen has made 224 appearances for the Catalans till date, keeping 94 clean sheets in the process. The German international has been at his best in the 2019-20 season, saving Barcelona by the skin of their teeth in a number of matches. Signed for just €12 million, ter Stegen is proving to be an inspired piece of business by Barcelona.
One of the best-ever signings for Barcelona in their history, let alone the past decade.
The La Liga champions took a huge risk on Luis Suarez, signing him at a time when his career was mired in controversy. Indeed, when Barcelona decided to splash €80 million to recruit Suarez from Liverpool in 2014, the striker was facing a suspension till October after being found guilty of biting Giorgio Chiellini in the FIFA World Cup 2014 earlier in the summer.
But, the Uruguayan hasn’t let his team down, becoming one of the deadliest attackers during his time at Camp Nou, helping the team to great heights. Along with Messi and Neymar, Suarez formed a devastating attacking trident reaffirming Barcelona’s status as the superpowers of Europe.
Till date, the 33-year-old has amassed a tally of 191 goals in 270 matches for Barcelona. Age seems to have caught up with him in the past year or so, but Suarez had still managed 14 goals this season, before a knee injury cut short his campaign.
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ FAYEZ NURELDINE