After Alex Song admitted he joined Barcelona for the money, who are the other Premier League stars who flopped at the Nou Camp? From Marc Overmars to Philippe Coutinho, the Spanish giants have a history of bad buys from England's top-flight

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  • Alex Song recent revealed he joined Barcelona in order to ‘become a millionaire’
  • The midfielder was bought for £15m from Arsenal but failed to make an impact
  • Song is not the only player from the Premier League to fail to make the grade
  • Alex Hleb, Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit struggled after leaving Arsenal
  • Barca broke their transfer record to land Philippe Coutinho but he’s now on loan 

Alex Song flopped at Barcelona after joining the Spanish giants from Arsenal in August, 2012

Alex Song flopped at Barcelona after joining the Spanish giants from Arsenal in August, 2012

Alexander Hleb in action for Barcelona in 2008

Hleb runs with the ball for Arsenal in 2005

Alexander Hleb joined Barcelona from Arsenal for £11.8m but couldn’t nail down a starting spot

Marc Overmars in action for Barcelona in 2003

Arsenal sold Overmars for around £25m

Marc Overmars also left Arsenal for the Nou Camp but he failed to hit top form in Spain

Thomas Vermaelen barely featured for Barcelona after arriving in 2014

The defender is pictured in action for Arsenal in 2013

Thomas Vermaelen’s career was destroyed by injuries after he left the Gunners for Barcelona

Emmanuel Petit in action for Barcelona in pre-season of 2000, shortly after joining the club

The Frenchman celebrates scoring for Arsenal

Emmanuel Petit was a favourite at Arsenal but he was shipped out of Barcelona after just a year

Philippe Coutinho got just 18 months at Barcelona before being sent out on loan

The Brazilian was a huge hit at Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho became the most expensive player in Barca’s history when he left Liverpool

Alex Song’s revelation this week that he was never too bothered by failing at Barcelona because they paid him so much money was a reminder that the Catalan club have been burned buying Premier League players on more occasions than they would want to remember. 

Song, who spent four years as a Barca player but was shipped out on loan after two seasons, was quoted by Cameroonian website Lion Indomptable, saying: ‘I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games. But I didn’t give a f***. I knew that now I would become a millionaire.’ 

Here, Sportsmail take a closer look at five of their other famous flops – with four of them having come from the same English club.

ALEXANDER HLEB 

Barcelona paid Arsenal £11.8million for Hleb in 2008 and the talented Belarusian should have become an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s revolution. 

Instead, he never got to grips with the new coach’s demands in training and so rarely showed his ability in the team. 

Guardiola wanted his players turning up an hour before training started so they would be out on the training pitch and ready for the start of the session in good time. Hleb would often be the last to arrive. 

He fell foul of Guardiola’s system of fines as a consequence. He also never made any progress learning Spanish. 

One of the coach’s maxim’s was: Not alert in training – not going to be alert on the pitch, so there were few chances to shine. 

When he did get the opportunity, he overindulged on the ball, perhaps in an attempt to hide the way much of the team play practised in training had gone over his head. 

Guardiola got rid after just one season.

MARC OVERMARS 

Overmars joined Barcelona in 2000 for £25m but never came closing to justifying that outlay. 

He was brought in to replace Luis Figo but the former Arsenal winger fell short. 

No one doubted his ability or his application and there were moments of magic. But having cost so much, and with such big boots to fill, he had to be an almost instant and then consistent success, and dogged by injury, he wasn’t.

THOMAS VERMAELEN 

The elegant Belgian defender was perfect for the way Barcelona like to defend. 

He had pace to burn so that sitting as high up as the halfway line while his team attacked and then having to race back was never going to be a problem. 

He was good on the ball too so there would be no rushed long clearances so frowned on at the Nou Camp. And he was exceptional in the air which would help Barcelona strengthen an area where they were weak. 

There was only one problem: his terrible luck with injuries. 

Barcelona knew this before he arrived. He was injured when they signed him. It did not put them off. They spent £15m on him and then watched as he watched from the sidelines. 

He joined in 2014 and didn’t leave until 2019. The team won plenty of trophies while he was there and when he was fit enough to play he looked the part, but ultimately the gamble on him did not pay off.

EMMANUEL PETIT 

Petit came with Overmars in 2000 and fared even worse. 

He had looked so good at Arsenal alongside Patrick Vieira but it goes down as another early example of the Arsenal to Barcelona curse. He was gone within a season sold to Chelsea

Barcelona’s success rate with Arsenal would later pick up when they signed Giovanni van Bronckhorst and then Thierry Henry. Before things returned to normal with Hleb, Song and Vermaelen.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO 

Not all the underwhelming signings arrived from Arsenal. 

After a long drawn out saga, Barcelona broke their transfer record for Philippe Coutinho in January 2018. The deal, which was worth £145m with add-ons made, him the third most expensive player in history behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. 

It hasn’t all been bad. There have been goals and assists and his Copa del Rey final performance in 2018 was superb, but the riddle of fitting him into the team with Lionel Messi and an awkward relationship with supporters – they jeered him, he put his fingers to his ears in one sarcastic goal celebration in response – meant the club soon began to look for a way of getting their money back on him. 

On loan at Bayern Munich he has played well enough until injury, but Barcelona want around £90m for him and the German champions were never going to pay that. 

He could yet fit in under Quique Setien, but if not Barca will have to take at least a 50 per cent loss on the money they paid for him.



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