Pep Guardiola has made some terrific signings like Gerard Pique, Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane at the clubs he has managed. However, thanks to his success, the other side of the spectrum has often been overlooked. So, take a look at his five worst signings.
5. NOLITO (Celta Vigo to Manchester City)
Nolito was one of Guardiola’s first signings as Manchester City manager. The Spaniard cost City £13.8 million from Celta Vigo for whom he scored 39 goals in 100 league games. He started well in the Premier League but found opportunities hard to come by after Leroy Sane broke into the starting XI.
The following season, City added Bernardo Silva to their roster and that signalled the end of the Spaniard’s career in England. He was sold to Sevilla for €9 million after making just nine starts for City. Nolito was happy to leave the club as he struggled with English and his family was unsettled in the country.
4. CLAUDIO BRAVO (Barcelona to Manchester City)
When Guardiola arrived at City, he opted to replace the club’s long-term servant Joe Hart in goal and signed a 33-year-old Claudio Bravo from Barcelona for £17 million. Bravo arrived at City after a couple of excellent seasons with Barcelona and also after winning back to back Copa America titles with Chile.
However, his first season in England was nothing short of a disaster. On his debut against Manchester United, he made an error leading to a goal but City still ended up on the winning side. This was the start of many high-profile errors from the Chilean.
Eventually, he was dropped to the bench by Guardiola in favour of Willy Caballero and Bravo ended the season with a save percentage of 54.1 which was the worst in the league. The following season, Guardiola signed Ederson Moraes as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper and Bravo was demoted to the bench.
3. DMYTRO CHYGRYNSKIY (Shakhtar Donetsk to Barcelona)
In August 2009, Guardiola signed Ukrainian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy from Shakhtar Donetsk for €25 million. He arrived at the club after helping Shakhtar win the UEFA Cup in 2008/09 and he became the first player from his country to play for Barcelona.
Chygrynskiy was signed because of his ball playing abilities and aerial dominance. However, he struggled to break into a side that already had Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Gabriel Milito and Rafael Marquez. He played only 14 games in all competitions for Barcelona and in 12 league games, he totalled 851 minutes. The Ukrainian was sold back to Shakhtar in the very next summer for €15 million.
2. KEIRRISON (Palmeiras to Barcelona)
Keirrison is not only one of Guardiola’s worst signings, but he might also be one of Barcelona’s worst signings ever. He signed for Barcelona in 2009 after impressing in his homeland with Coritiba and Palmeiras. However, immediately after joining the club, the striker was loaned out to Benfica so that he could adjust to football in Europe away from the limelight of Barcelona.
At Benfica, he started one match and played a total of 199 minutes without scoring before returning to Barcelona midway through the season only to go on another unsuccessful loan, this time to Fiorentina.
Keirrison had further disappointing loan spells in the subsequent seasons with Santos, Cruzeiro and Coritiba before his Barcelona contract was terminated in 2014 without him ever representing the club. He returned to Cortiba but has not found the form that earned him a move to Barcelona.
1. ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (Inter Milan to Barcelona)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is considered one of Guardiola’s worst signings despite the Swede scoring 21 goals in his only season under the Spanish manager.
Ibrahimovic signed for Barcelona in 2009 from Inter and he was expected to be Barcelona’s first-choice striker. However, during the course of the 2009/10 season, Guardiola opted to play Lionel Messi in a false-nine position and as a result, Ibrahimovic was left on the bench which didn’t go down well with the player.
The relationship between Guardiola and Ibrahimovic quickly turned sour and the player was allowed to leave after only one season. Ibrahimovic cost Barcelona around £59 million and it was baffling why Guardiola wanted a player of his stature at the club if he was going to be left on the bench often.
After leaving Barcelona, Ibrahimovic has hit out at Guardiola on numerous occasions. He has used several insults to describe the manager and called the current Manchester City manager a ‘spineless coward’ in his autobiography.