On his 31st birthday, Martin Braithwaite remains a Barcelona striker – something that many Middlesbrough never thought they would read four years ago.
The forward made 36 appearances for Boro, scoring eight times but never truly looking capable of spearheading the Championship side’s attack in their pursuit of a return to the Premier League. He also had a desire to play in Spain, and after one season under Tony Pulis, he was loaned out to Leganes – who then signed him permanently.
But despite scoring just six goals for the club in the 2019/20 campaign, Barca activated the release clause in Braithwaite’s contract of approximately £15million and he has remained at the club ever since. But the Denmark international is not the only player to have landed himself a mega move after flopping in England. Mirror Sport takes a look at eight others:
Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona)
Spanish defender Gerard Pique has won the La Liga eight times, the Champions League on three occasions and the 2010 World Cup amongst numerous other trophies. He has also earned a whole host of individual accolades.
But Pique did not look like he would achieve what he has whilst at Manchester United, where he came through the academy. He made 12 Premier League appearances for United over the course of four seasons before joining Barca, and the rest is history.
Memphis Depay (FC Barcelona)
Another player to make the United to Barca move is Memphis Depay, though he did get his career back on track at Lyon in between. The Dutchman joined the Red Devils in 2015 for £25m from PSV but then struggled in England.
He showed glimmers of potential at Old Trafford but fell quickly down the pecking order at the club, and a move to Lyon in the Ligue 1 somewhat saved his career. He spent four years there and made over 100 league appearances, becoming captain before moving to Barca last year.
Stefano Savic (Atletico Madrid)
Stefano Savic was in the headlines earlier this season for his antics against Manchester City, and he may have been trying to prove a point to his former side. The central defender spent two seasons with City but never tied down a spot in the starting eleven, he was then used in a deal to purchase Matija Nastasic from Fiorentina in 2012.
Savic spent a campaign with the Serie A side before signing a long term deal with Atletico, where the Montenegrin has become a key figure in defence. He has won the La Liga and Europa League with the club.
Jerome Boateng (Lyon)
Germany international Jerome Boateng was one of the best defenders in the world at Bayern Munich, but he never showed that quality at City. He joined the club in 2010 but only spent a season in the Premier League before being moved on to the European giants.
2021 DeFodi Images)
Although labelling Jadon Sancho a ‘flop’ for his time as a youngster with City, he never had the opportunity to showcase his talent at the Etihad Stadium. Luckily for him, the now-England international had caught the attention of Borussia Dortmund – and he lit up the Bundesliga after forcing a move.
After becoming one of the most exciting young talents in world football in Germany, Sancho will be hoping to make an impression at United next season. The winger struggled to make a significant impact under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, but Erik ten Hag’s appointment offers him a reason to be optimistic at Old Trafford.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Somehow, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting made such an impression at Stoke City with five goals in 30 appearances that he earned himself a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain in 2018. He spent two seasons at the club, then bizarrely joined Bayern Munich – where he is currently enjoying his football and featuring far more than many would expect!
Serge Gnabry has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League this summer, with former club Arsenal cited as an interested party. The Germany international will be hoping that if an agreement is reached, he can prove why he deserved more chances to shine previously.
The 26-year-old was given a sprinkling of opportunities with the Gunners, and a loan move to West Brom should have put him on the map. But he made just a single appearance under Pulis before being sold to Werder Bremen – where he excelled and earned himself a move to Bayern.
Mohamed Salah’s bounceback from an underwhelming spell at Chelsea is well-reported. Roma allowed the Egyptian to showcase his quality after being sold by the Blues, and Liverpool were quick to prise the winger away from the Serie A and help him become one of the best players in the world with the Merseyside outfit.
The forward is out of contract next summer and the Reds are keen for the player to extend his stay at Anfield, though negotiations have been ongoing for a while and an agreement is still yet to be reached. With Sadio Mane set to depart in the coming months, Jurgen Klopp’s attack could be completely changed by the start of the 2023/34 campaign.