Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Kevin-Prince Boateng. No, seriously.
This is not a joke. Barcelona have really signed the 31-year-old attacking midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng from Sassuolo. For what purpose? Who can honestly say. This is pure FC Banterlona, so who are the winners and losers of this transfer?
Winner: Kevin-Prince Boateng
I mean, this is obvious right? Boateng has travelled around Europe, playing in three of Europe’s top five leagues. He’s played for Spurs (not very well), Portsmouth, Milan and more recently: Las Palmas and Eintracht Frankfurt. He’s only ever spent more than two seasons at a club once: when he was with Milan. Otherwise, he’s a pure journeyman, moving from place to place and living off his ability alone.
He’s been brilliant, been injured, been a disciplinary headache, credibly stood up to racism, chosen to represent his fatherland Ghana over his country of birth Germany only to eventually turn his back on them, he’s won trophies (well, three)… he’s been through the mill this guy. Now at 31 he was just quietly going about his business in Italy, enjoying his 30’s. Now one of the best sides in the world has come calling.
Imagine being in his shoes and out of nowhere getting offered the chance to play with the best player on the planet? To have a chance to win La Liga, the Copa del Rey, maybe even the Champions League? This is a fairytale, proper dream come true stuff. He has to be a winner.
Loser: Barcelona’s transfer team
Even if Boateng works out, this is a bad look for Barcelona. The Blaugrana had a perfectly serviceable back-up striker on their books in Munir El Haddadi, but failure to negotiate a new contract led to him being sold for peanuts. Now they needed a replacement, and many options were mooted. Serial winners who thrive as back-ups like Alvaro Morata, left-field options like Carlos Vela who nevertheless have produced greatness in La Liga.
There was even a rumour linking them to Olivier Giroud which made all the sense in the world. Giroud is great off the bench and is so good at linking with attacking players that the likes of Leo Messi, Ousmane Dembélé and Coutinho would thrive playing off him. But no, that got shut down just as it was beginning to be mooted.
There was even the option of going for one of their summer targets early. Celta Vigo may not have wanted to sell Maxi Gomez now, but he has a release clause that could be paid – giving him six months extra adaptation time. But no, Barcelona didn’t make any of these savvy moves, they couldn’t make anything work so they ended up signing a player from a mid-table Serie A outfit in a deal that perplexed everyone. To be so devoid of options so quickly is a bad look for Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and their team.
“Why would Arsenal be winners?” you ask? Well besides the fact that some Champions League defeats and Cesc Fabregas have left Gunners fans tickled whenever Barcelona do something weird, there’s the simple fact that Arsenal are trying to sign Denis Suárez from the Blaugrana.
Now, Barcelona were happy to move Denis on. Ernesto Valverde, according to reports, just wanted to ensure that he got his back-up striker in before they did so that he wouldn’t be left a man short. Well now that Boateng has arrived, Denis can depart, paving the way for Arsenal to finally get their man.
Loser: La Masia
If you were a young player at their fabled youth centre La Masia then you couldn’t really be too upset if Barcelona had gone out and signed Maxi Gomez or Olivier Giroud, players of proven ability and/or gigantic physical presence. After all, experience and reliability are something you couldn’t have, so fair enough.
But for them to go out and get Kevin-Prince Boateng? On loan? That’s a slap in the face of La Masia and every player there. Does Ernesto Valverde have such little faith in the potential of these young players to adapt that he will go and sign a 31-year-old journeyman to sit on the bench and occasionally replace Luis Suárez? Is there no way youngster Abel Ruiz could have done that? Imagine the experience!
Winner: Leo Messi
Why is Messi a winner here? Well, for a player who has dominated every challenge the club game has to offer, who has repeatedly and spectacularly expressed his dominance over every single opponent placed before him – what’s left? Win with handicaps!
Last season Messi dragged Barcelona to a Liga and Copa domestic double despite having an enormously talent-deficient squad for most of the season thanks to Ousmane Dembélé’s injuries and Coutinho’s settling in period. His third best attacking team-mate for most of the campaign was Paulinho. Paulinho. Seriously.
So what’s better than a double with Paulinho? A treble with Kevin-Prince Boateng, of course! Every King needs a Prince, right? Messi has now been issued one of the most spectacular challenges that he will ever face. To win major honours with a 31-year-old journeyman attacking midfielder as a striker. If anyone can do it…
Winner: Social media
Kevin Prince Boateng is signing for Barcelona. pic.twitter.com/SJVXs8LPe1
— McLovin (@lkknntt) January 21, 2019
This one is obvious: memes. And jokes. And joke memes. The deal was announced earlier today and people are having a laugh, making graphics, and someone even found an old tweet from Boateng where he laughs at someone calling Sergio Busquets a diver and another where he professed that he preferred Real Madrid to Barcelona.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much potential hilarity in having a combustible figure with an excess of personality like Kevin-Prince Boateng under the daily and international spotlight that FC Barcelona deal with. Even if he’s a massive disaster on the field (or perhaps especially if he’s a massive disaster on the field) this is going to be very, very entertaining.